Adreian Payne

Tom Izzo didn’t like the scuffle, but did it help Adreian Payne?

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Wednesday afternoon, news broke that two Michigan State players got into a physical altercation at the Nittany Lion Inn on the Penn State campus.

Neither Branden Dawson and Adreian Payne started that night due to their actions, but Payne did play a big role in Michigan State’s 81-72 win over Penn State.

Payne watched from the bench until the 16:37 mark of the second half. When the 6-foot-10 junior checked in, he dominated for a career-high 20 points, adding seven boards. Payne was aggressive on the offensive end, taking 10 free throw attempts (making seven of them), which is more free throw attempts than his previous three games combined.

Tom Izzo said he isn’t a fan of having his players get in to a scuffle, but he did acknowledge it may have provided a spark for his junior forward, according to Mike Griffith of

“Everybody grows up at a different point; sometimes controversy brings it out, and you gotta say, `I’m changing, or I’m not changing,’ ” said Izzo on Thursday. “For (Payne) it was a day he had to realize this is ridiculous. You can’t do dumb things and you have to listen to what other people say to you, comprehend it, and go to work.

“He stayed focused, you notice he didn’t get as tired, and he’d never played 17 out of 20 minutes in a half in his whole life.”

Could a fight with a roommate turn into a positive for Payne and the Spartans?

It’s a scary thought. The Big Ten is going to be a grind this season. There’s no doubt about that. Izzo and the Spartans are going to need to rely on guys like Payne and if he can provide this sort of production on a consistent basis, Michigan State will be right back in the mix atop the Big Ten.

If this could be the emergence of Payne, it’s coming at the right time. The Spartans’ next five games feature games against Ohio State (Saturday), road games against a hot Wisconsin team (Jan. 22) and No. 2 Indiana (Jan. 27), wrapping up with home games against No. 23 Illinois and No. 9 Minnesota.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.

Knee injury sidelines Illinois forward Leron Black

Josh Hart, Leron Black
Associated Press
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Illinois will be shorthanded in its front court for the time being, as during the team’s media day Thursday head coach John Groce announced that sophomore forward Leron Black is out due to injury.

Black will undergo surgery Friday to repair a meniscus tear in his knee, and he’s expected to miss anywhere from four to six weeks. A return after four weeks would have Black back on the court just before the Fighting Illini open their season November 13 against North Florida. Any longer and the Memphis native would wind up missing some game action.

Black averaged 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in just under 15 minutes of action per game as a freshman. He’s one of the players expected to contribute in the front court for the Fighting Illini, who lost their best interior defender and second-leading rebounder in Nnanna Egwu at the end of last season (guard Rayvonte Rice, who led the team in rebounding, is also gone).

In addition to Black and junior Maverick Morgan, Illinois adds redshirt freshman Michael Finke and grad student Mike Thorne Jr. (via Charlotte) to their front court rotation.