A.J. Hammons, Derrick Nix

Michigan State moves into sole possession of 1st in the B1G race

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We did it again.

We forgot about Tom Izzo and Michigan State.

The consensus this season has been that the Big Ten is a race that’s going to come down to Indiana and Michigan. But here we are a week into February and it’s the Spartans that are sitting all alone in first place after their 78-65 win over Purdue in Mackey Arena on Saturday afternoon.

Perhaps what’s more impressive is that the Spartans seemingly get better each and every time they take the floor. Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix are playing the best basketball of their respective careers of late. Branden Dawson and Keith Appling are slowly but surely living up to the hype that they had coming out of high school. The team is as typically tough and physical as you would expect out of a Tom Izzo coached team.

And they are doing all this despite being beat-up. Travis Trice is dealing with broken noses and concussions. Gary Harris can’t seem to get rid of his back spasms. Appling’s shoulder isn’t 100%.

Yet there they are.

Perhaps the most important note to make is that the Spartans control their destiny as much as any team in the conference. They still have two games to play against Michigan and will host Indiana later this month. Those three games could end up determining the Big Ten race.

Are you going to bet against Izzo again?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 13 Iowa State suspends Jameel McKay indefinitely

Iowa State forward Georges Niang, forward Jameel McKay, forward Abdel Nader and guard Deonte Burton celebrate after center Stuart Nezlek scored late in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Coppin State, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 104-84 (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)
AP Photo/Justin Hayworth
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Already lacking depth, No. 13 Iowa State will be short a key contributor Saturday when they take on Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

Friday night it was announced that senior forward Jameel McKay has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Steve Prohm and did not make the trip with the team. McKay, who’s been dealing with knee issues recently, is averaging 12.4 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds per game on the season.

Over the last six games he’s averaging 7.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest, shooting 60.6 percent from the field.

McKay has been asked to man the middle for a team lacking in both size and depth, with Georges Niang shifting over to the five when McKay needs a break for either rest or foul trouble reasons. Without McKay even more responsibility falls upon the shoulders of Niang, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton in the front court.

The Cyclones are looking to end a two-game losing streak, and even with Oklahoma State’s struggles accomplishing that gets tougher with McKay out of the lineup.

News of McKay’s suspension was first reported by the Ames Tribune.

UNLV dismisses guard Daquan Cook from team

Illinois v UNLV
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LAS VEGAS (AP) UNLV junior guard Daquan Cook has been dismissed from the team.

Interim coach Todd Simon made the announcement on Friday, though no reason was given.

Cook was suspended for 13 games by previous coach Dave Rice in November after being arrested and charged with DUI.

Cook appeared in two games this season after being reinstated, scoring three points in four minutes. He missed the 2014-15 season after tearing his right ACL and played 28 games as a sophomore.