Trent Lockett, Otto Porter

Late Afternoon Snacks: Marquette nips Hoyas; Lehigh meets VCU

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Game of the Day

Marquette 49, No. 15 Georgetown 48: It was a grind, as a Georgetown game so often can be, but Marquette got two crucial late free throws out of big man Davante Gardner (12 points, 7 rebounds) on their way to a slo-mo upset of G’Town in Milwaukee. Vander Blue also scored 12, and Trent Lockett had a 9 point, 10 rebound game to help secure the win. It was a big win for a team that fell out of the national eye after a loss at unranked Green Bay on December 19th. Markel Starks led the Hoyas with 18 points and seven assists. Better yet, everybody shot at the right basket throughout the game.

Meaningful Results

No. 11 Illinois 74, No. 8 Ohio State 55: The Illini opened Big Ten play on a low note, dropping a 68-61 decision to the completely unheralded Boilermakers of Purdue. As bounce-back efforts go, this was a good one. Brandon Paul scored 19 and Nnanna Egwu had a 16 point, 8 rebound day to pace Illinois, and impenetrable team defense held the Buckeyes to 33% shooting mark from the floor. DeShaun Thomas managed 24 points on 9-21 shooting, but his frontcourt mates Sam Thompson and Amir Williams combined to hit just 1 of 8.

No. 1 Duke 80, Wake Forest 62: Poor Travis McKie had a great game for Wake Forest (22 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and a block), but he faced a team of killers today. Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly each had 22 points, Mason Plumlee and Rasheed Sulaimon also scored in double figures, and Quinn Cook facilitated the rout with 14 assists.

No. 25 Kansas State 73, No. 22 Oklahoma State 67: The two biggest contenders to end Kansas’ streak of Big 12 titles met in an early test match, and MACGRUDER! put the Wildcats on his back. 28 points later, his team had a big early home win in the Octagon of Doom. Marcus Smart and Markel Brown combined for 44 points for the visitors, but LeBryan Nash was held largely in check, notching just six points.

Rutgers 67, No. 24 Pitt 64: Whoever’s driving the Pitt bandwagon might not even need a Class C driver’s license. As soon as a few of us were ready to climb aboard, the Panthers fell to 0-2 in the Big East. Scarlet Knight sophomore Eli Carter had his 12th-straight game in double figures, dropping 23 on the visitors.

Games of the Night

Lehigh at VCU, 6:00 PM, NBC Sports

Murray State at Southeast Missouri State, 6:00 PM, ESPNu

No. 10 Gonzaga at Santa Clara, 8:00 PM ET, ROOT

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

[RELATED: Can WSU still make tourney?]

“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.