michigan state indiana

Indiana natives Harris and Dawson lead No. 5 Michigan State past Indiana

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Michigan State is winning games with different players carrying them at different times.

Depending on the game, it might be seniors Adreian Payne and Keith Appling that take control; or talented sophomore guard Gary Harris.

But on Saturday it two players that left Indiana for college that got the best of Tom Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers in their return home as Indiana natives Branden Dawson and Harris helped pace the No. 5 Spartans to a 73-56 win over Indiana in a Big Ten road win.

In restoring Indiana Hoosier basketball back to Sweet 16 appearances and a Big Ten title, Indiana head coach Tom Crean has done a great job keeping in-state talent home and building around local talent. But Crean and Indiana can’t keep every great player to come out of basketball-crazy Indiana home and on Saturday the Hoosiers fell victim to a great performance by two of its native sons that got away.

Despite a mediocre effort from Adreian Payne — who was limited to six points and saddled with foul trouble — the Spartans showed why they might be the best team in the country as Dawson and Harris stepped up in a big way on the road in front of a hostile crowd.

Booed during pre-game introductions, Harris scored 17 first-half points, but in the second half, it was the sophomore’s five-point play after being fouled on a made three-pointer — and an ensuing technical foul — that put Michigan State comfortably ahead for good with a 55-41 lead with 8:17 remaining.

The five-point play capped off a ridiculous nine-point run for Harris that started with a steal from Indiana guard Jonny Marlin that resulted in a thunderous dunk. Harris finished with 26 points for the contest.

Also stepping up was junior forward Branden Dawson. Dawson was a step above his usual mega glue guy role, going 6-for-7 from the field to finish with 13 points, while also going for three steals, two blocks and wrecking havoc on the defensive end.

Between Harris and Dawson, the two combined for eight steals and played with a tremendous amount of energy on both ends of the floor.

With senior point guard Keith Appling (14 points) also having a great second half, Michigan State was clearly the superior team in nearly every facet of the game against a young Indiana team.

The win on Saturday showed that even when Adreian Payne has an off-night — and he is prone to inconsistent play at times — Michigan State can still roll on all cylinders because so many different players can step up and make plays for them.

On a day where No. 1 Arizona and No. 2 Syracuse both received scares from inferior teams at home, Michigan State took care of business on the road with a comfortable win.

The Spartans are finally getting healthy and right now they look like the best team in the country.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: