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

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.