Keith Appling

Michigan State blows double-digit lead, prevails in overtime over Ohio State


Michigan State and Ohio State sure know how to make us forget about college football.

The two clashed in an epic overtime Big Ten battle, as the No. 5 Michigan State blew a double-digit second half lead, but left the Breslin Center with a 72-68 overtime win over No. 3 Ohio State on Tuesday night to hand the Buckeyes their first loss of the season.

Sam Thompson hit two free throws, followed by one from Adreian Payne to make it 60-59 Ohio State to begin overtime. Then it began to rain threes. Kenny Kaminski and Payne sandwiched a Marc Loving free throw with two Michigan State 3-pointers to give Sparty a 65-61 lead. Again, Ohio State wasn’t going anywhere with an Aaron Craft layup and a Thompson 3-pointer from the wing, tying the score at 66-all.

Keith Appling responded with a pull-up three on the next possession with under 30 seconds to play, giving Michigan State a 69-66 lead, which the Spartans kept for good.

Ohio State fell behind by as many as 17 in the second half, but with less than 10 minutes to go, Thad Matta extended his defense, which forced problems for the Michigan State offense. As the Spartans made mistakes and missed shots — one field goal in the final eight minutes — the Buckeyes went on a 20-3 run to close out regulation and had a chance to win it at the buzzer with a transition layup after Shannon Scott picked off a pass.

The Spartans second half letdown that almost caused them the game.That near collapse had something to do with the opponent. Ohio State doesn’t give up. Seriously. We saw that in the win against Notre Dame and we saw that fight again on Tuesday night. How many guys will make plays like Aaron Craft did toward the end the game?

It was a disappointing way to end regulation, but Tuesday night the Spartans showed glimpses — like in other games — of what they can be when they are healthy. Gary Harris went off on Indiana, looking like the player we’ve waited to see, and added 13 more points on Tuesday night. Payne (18 points, six rebounds) fought through a foot injury while Appling (20 points, seven assists, six rebounds) dealt cramping. Yet both drilled huge 3-pointers in overtime. Not to mention Tom Izzo was without Travis Trice.

We still have a long way to go until March, which is the next time these two teams meet. The Spartans and Buckeyes end conference play on March 9 in Columbus

Big South moving 2016 conference tournament

Cliff Ellis
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The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.

The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.

It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.

Virginia Tech could redshirt sophomore guard

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Virginia Tech is trying to decide what to do with injury sophomore guard Ahmed Hill, who had surgery this summer to deal with a tear in his patella tendon in his left knee.

The 6-foot-5 Hill has still not been released to work out with the team, but he is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule in his rehab. But the injury is still nagging enough that Hill might not be healthy enough to really contritbute this season. Head coach Buzz Williams is deciding soon whether he wants to redshirt Hill or not.

Hill started a team-high 30 games for the Hokies last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

“I don’t have a decision on (Hill),” Williams said to reporters on Monday. “I will make the final decision. I’ll let (him) and his mom be a part of it, but I want to make a decision using the wisdom of doing this for a long period of time. If you let a kid make the decision, they always want to play.

“Right now, I don’t feel comfortable that I would want to play him. It’s just too early to be able to have much more of an answer than that.”

It’s still a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech, but they do get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who is a talented guard who can score. The Hokies were hoping to have Hill and Allen as complimentary perimeter scorers, but now the plans might have to be altered. Williams went on to say that he would like to make a decision on Hill’s status by Halloween.