Wisconsin plays role of slump-buster for Michigan State’s Keith Appling

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He’s ba-ack.

Keith Appling scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half as No. 10 Michigan State smothered No. 22 Wisconsin on Thursday night, opening up the second half with an 16-2 run over the first eight minutes to take a 21 point lead en route to a 58-43 win over the Badgers.

The Spartans needed a game like this after losing three in a row, and not just because they finally got a win. They needed Appling to break out of the dreadful slump he had been in for three-and-a-half games. Appling scored 18 points in those three losses. He had eight assists and nine turnovers during that stretch. He shot 5-23 from the floor and snapped a stretch of 17 straight missed threes by going 1-7 on Thursday.

Moving forward, that is what matters.

Because it doesn’t really matter that Michigan State’s win means they still have a shot at winning a share of the Big Ten regular season title, or that this win means that they will get one of those top four seeds in the Big Ten tournament as long as they don’t do something dumb like lose to Northwestern at home.

What matters is that Appling snapped out of his funk. At the end of the day, he’s the most important player for the Spartans because a) he’s streaky and inconsistent; b) when he’s playing well, he’s really good at being the kind of dynamic playmaker that the Spartans need; and c) no one else on the Spartans can do what he can do at that spot.

They can’t win in March without Appling.

So regardless of what the score was tonight, the takeaway from Thursday is that Appling got it going offensively.

Finally.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.

 

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.