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.

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.