A.J. Hammons, Sam Thompson

Sam Thompson dunks because he can, and because he’s really good at it (VIDEO)

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We all know that Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas run the show in Columbus, OH. But the major concern with the Buckeyes heading in to the season was if they would be able to get increased production from their key contributors like LaQuinton Ross, Lenzelle Smith Jr., Shannon Scott, Amir Williams, Evan Ravenel and Sam Thompson. All six of them are talented enough to be significant contributors on a nightly basis for an elite team.

Through 15 games, the Buckeyes stand at 12-3, but have yet to find consistent production from their role players.

Sam Thompson has scored ten or more in four games this season, but failed to do so in all three of the Buckeyes losses. But while his scoring output remains somewhat inconsistent, there is something that Thompson does better than anyone on the team, and he does it on a frequent basis.

Sam Thompson can dunk. Really, REALLY well.

The kid has bounce. Hops. Springs. Bunnies. Gittup. Whatever you want to call it, the 6-foot-7 sophomore has it, and he loves to show it off.

The only problem is, when he shows off, somebody has to be on the receiving end. Last night, that poor bloke was Purdue’s A.J. Hammons.

The 7-foot freshman is averaging a respectable 1.6-bpg, but got caught up in the moment and made a rookie mistake. Unfortunately, when you make a rookie mistake trying to block one of the best leapers in the game, your rookie mistake gets synced on highlight reels for the rest of the season.

(Video Courtesy of The Big Ten Network)
Sorry A.J., but you brought this upon yourself. Well, no not really, Sam Thompson did. But you allowed it to happen.

You can find Troy Machir on Twitter at @TroyMachir

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.