Denzel Valentine, Gavin Schilling, Jonathan Holmes

Banged-up No. 5 Michigan State outlasts Texas behind tremendous effort from Adreian Payne

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Even though No. 5 Michigan State has a number of players dealing with injuries during the early part of this season, it didn’t stop them from earning a big 92-78 road win over Texas on Saturday.

Despite battling plantar fasciitis, senior forward Adreian Payne played one of the best games of this college basketball season as he put up 33 points and nine rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting from the field and 11-for-12 from the free throw line. Payne scored on both blocks over both shoulders, knocked in two three-pointers, worked the high post and generally looked unguardable for much of the game and the entire second half.

Michigan State is clearly banged up and in a game in which Keith Appling struggled to four points and two assists and Gary Harris (19 points) didn’t get going until the second half, Payne stepped up and carried the Spartans in the second half and either scored or got fouled nearly every time he touched the ball.

Appling (hip pointer), Harris (ankle), and backup point guard Travis Trice (foot blisters) all played through injuries for Michigan State — as starting forward Matt Costello continues to miss time due to mononucleosis — but Payne’s All-American performance kept Texas at bay.

The Longhorns actually led 38-36 at the half but the Spartans ramped up the defense in the second half, as they held Texas without a field goal for over five minutes with 11 minutes remaining as the Longhorns inexperience showed and Michigan State began to pull away.

The Spartans’ defense also did a great job disrupting the driving lanes of Isaiah Taylor, Demarcus Holland and Jevan Felix and limited those three to a combined 11-for-35 from the field while also closing out on Texas’ perimeter shooters and limiting them to 35 percent from behind the three-point line.

Another big key for Michigan State was controlling the glass. Texas was the No. 7 rebounding team in the country entering the game, but in the true spirit of Tom Izzo, the Spartans beat the Longhorns on the glass 43-33 as Payne, Branden Dawson (10 rebounds) and Denzel Valentine (11 rebounds) all pounded the glass throughout the game.

For the Spartans to pull off this road win with a depleted group is an impressive early-season win when you consider how good Texas had been playing coming off of their win earlier this week at North Carolina. While Texas didn’t get their second victory over a ranked opponent on the week, their young guards can learn a valuable lesson in how quickly a game can get away when good shots aren’t taken.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.