Tim Hardaway, Jr.

Tim Hardaway, Jr., No. 3 Michigan outlast No. 10 Ohio State in overtime thriller

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Michigan junior Tim Hardaway, Jr. has spent much of the 2012-13 season proving that he has become more than just a three-point shooter in his third year in with the Wolverines.

But on Tuesday night, he leaned on that three-point shot again and led No. 3 Michigan to a grueling 76-74 overtime win against No. 10 Ohio State at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Over a two-minute stretch in the middle of the second half, Hardaway, Jr. hit threes on three straight possessions, pulling Michigan from five points down to two points up, 52-50, with 10:16 to play.

He hit another two threes in the half, finishing with 23 points on 7-of-14 from the floor, including 6-of-9 from distance.

The focus Tuesday, too, was the point guard matchup between Michigan’s Trey Burke and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft.

In no place was that better exemplified than on three straight possessions in overtime when Craft stripped Burke with 0:26 to play, only to be stripped by Burke on the fastbreak in the other direction.

Ohio State retained possession, but a jumpshot by Craft was blocked by Burke and grabbed by Michigan to preserve a 75-74 lead. Craft then fouled Glenn Robinson III, giving the Wolverines a chance to go up by three with free throws. Robinson III hit one of two free throws, allowing Ohio State one more possession.

Craft drove the length of the floor with Burke on his hip, going in for the layup before being blocked by Hardaway, Jr. Craft and the Ohio State bench were looking for a foul after what appeared to be a lot of contact around the rim, but there was no call as time expired, giving Michigan the victory.

Craft finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and three steals, while Burke had 16 points and eight assists.

In the first half, Michigan’s hot shooting got the Wolverines out to a 13-4 start, thanks to aggressiveness in attacking the basket and three-pointers from Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

Robinson III showed he could bounce back after an Indiana game where he looked to be more out of sorts than at any other point in the season. He finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

Ohio State then tightened up on defense with the help of Craft. That defensive effort allowed the Buckeyes to get out in transition.

Eight Buckeyes scored in the first half, led by Deshaun Thomas’ seven points. Though Ohio State spread the ball around, Thomas still had a similar percentage of the Buckeyes’ overall scoring with his team-high 17 points on the night.

The problem was, though, Thomas did not score and was not the focus of an offense that struggled to score just one basket in overtime. Craft was 1-of-4 from the floor in the extra period with a turnover.

To OSU’s credit, though, Thomas is typically counted on for the bulk of the scoring. Tuesday night, LaQuinton Ross had one of the best games of his career with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. also scored in double figures.

Mitch McGary brought the interior toughness that Michigan needed, tallying 10 of his 14 points in the first half and adding six rebounds.

The Wolverines then began to find the hot-shooting Hardaway, Jr., though they struggled to get stops on the defensive end. He hit another two three-pointers to keep it close, but Ohio State exploited Michigan’s lack of size inside.

The Buckeyes worked the ball inside to Amir Williams on consecutive possessions, resulting in a layup and dunk to pull Ohio State ahead, 64-60, with 5:12 to play.

After trading baskets down the stretch, Lenzelle Smith, Jr. hit a jumper with a hand in his face to tie the game at 72-72 with 0:29 to play, ultimately forcing overtime.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.