No. 3 Michigan State has been banged up all season long.
Gary Harris has missed time with an ankle injury. Matt Costello and Travis Trice have been sick enough that they had to sit out games. Keith Appling has dealt with nagging injuries that were painful enough to visually affect him during games but not bad enough to keep him out of the lineup.
That’s all in the past. Now? The Spartans are without Adreian Payne, who missed his fifth straight game on Saturday with a sprained right foot, and Branden Dawson, who missed his first game as he tries to get his broken hand healed.
That’s a lot to overcome when you’re going up against the hottest team in the country, and for the first time since November, those injuries finally cost the Spartans. No. 21 Michigan went into the Breslin Center and picked up their ninth straight win, beating Michigan State 80-75 on the strength of a combined 55 points and 11 assists from Nik Stauskas, Caris LeVert and Derrick Walton.
It was the third straight game that the Wolverines have beaten a top ten opponent. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time that happened was in 1987.
Think about that for a second.
For all the injuries and illnesses that the Spartans have had to deal with this season, this was the first time since November that it has actually cost them. And for that to happen, the Spartans had to face a team putting together a win streak the likes of which we haven’t seen in 27 years while they’re down two starters.
Michigan has taken over the top spot in the Big Ten standings, and deservedly so.
But as long as the Spartans can get healthy, they have done nothing to convince us that they are anything other than a national title favorite.
Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.
Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.
So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.
He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.
Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.
What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.
To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.
A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.
Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He was just 58 years old.
Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.
Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.
UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.
The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.
Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.
But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.
The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.
This isn’t a bad way to start.
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) East Tennessee State has dismissed guard Shemar Johnson from its basketball team.
Buccaneers coach Steve Forbes said Monday that Johnson was no longer part of the team. Forbes said in a statement that “being a Buc is a special opportunity and at ETSU we provide our student-athletes with a tremendous experience. With that privilege comes accountability and Shemar failed to meet the expectations I have to be a player in our program.”
Forbes added that “I wish him the best now and in the future.”
Johnson, a 6-foot-6 guard from Columbus, Mississippi, was a redshirt freshman who hadn’t yet played a game for ETSU.