Nate Austin, Kelly Olynyk

No. 10 Gonzaga shows no signs of Butler ‘hangover’ in 83-63 win over BYU

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Given the way in which No. 10 Gonzaga lost at Butler on Saturday night, with a turnover leading to Roosevelt Jones’ game-winner as time expired, it would have been easy for many teams to suffer a hangover of sorts.

That wasn’t an issue for Mark Few’s Bulldogs however, as the Bulldogs went on a 23-6 run in the first half on their way to a decisive 83-63 win over BYU in Spokane. Instead of simply going through the motions Gonzaga removed any doubt as to what the outcome would be before the game even reached halftime.

The play of big men Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk was just one reason why Gonzaga was so effective on both ends of the floor. Harris finished with 25 points and ten rebounds and Olynyk led all scorers with 26 points to go along with nine rebounds and five assists.

How good was Olynyk? He didn’t miss a single shot, going 9-of-9 from the field and 8-of-8 from the foul line, and adding more evidence to the argument that he’s the favorite for WCC Player of the Year honors.

As a team the Bulldogs (18-2, 5-0 WCC) shot 56.9% from the field, doing a good job of finding quality looks from the field despite turning the ball over 19 times (the first time Gonzaga’s turned the ball over more than 16 times in a game this season). However Gonzaga’s emphatic victory wasn’t solely about what they were able to do offensively.

BYU sophomore guard Tyler Haws entered Thursday’s game as the leading scorer in the WCC and slowing him down was clearly something Gonzaga had to do in order to ensure victory. Haws finished the night having scored just one point on 0-of-9 shooting from the field, and when your leading scorer shoots that poorly it’s almost impossible to beat Gonzaga at The Kennel.

Overall BYU shot just 35.6% from the field, and after seven straight games of allowing opponents to shoot 40% or better from the field Gonzaga showed a renewed sense of urgency on the defensive end of the floor. That effort is something the Bulldogs can build upon, beginning with San Francisco on Saturday night.

Brandon Davies and Josh Sharp scored 14 points apiece for the Cougars (15-6, 5-2), who find themselves still in search of a victory that will bolster their NCAA tournament resume. As for Gonzaga, it was back to business as they continue on their quest to return to the top of the WCC.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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.