A.J. Hammons, Derrick Nix

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


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.

Henry Ellenson wins Marquette Madness dunk contest

Steve Wojciechowski
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Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson won the Marquette Madness slam dunk contest on Friday night with a between the legs dunk.

The 6-foot-10 Ellenson, the top recruit in Steve Wojciechowski’s freshmen class, defeated sophomore Sandy Cohen, fellow freshman Sacar Anim and Wally Ellenson, his older brother.

Ellenson joins the Golden Eagles as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2015.

Bill Self signs $10,000 check for KU student


Late Night in the Phog is typically a night to remember for Kansas fans. For Kansas student Jerrod Martin Castro, Friday night’s event is one he won’t forget.

Castro, a sophomore, was selected as a contestant for a $10,000 giveaway. The only thing standing in the way of a big payday was a half-court shot. Brennan Bechard, the Kansas director of basketball operations, attempted the long-distance shot and hit nothing but net.

Kansas head coach Bill Self signed a $10,000 check on the spot.