John Dawson, Ryan Arcidiacono

No. 4 Villanova holds off Marquette in overtime after controversial regulation finish

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Entering Saturday’s Big East clash between No. 4 Villanova and Marquette at the Bradley Center, the two conference foes had played their last eight games with a margin of victory within four points in each contest. So, you knew this game was going to be close.

But nobody could have predicted the insane regulation finish that occurred on Saturday.

Despite trailing the entire game, Marquette (11-9, 3-4) mounted a furious comeback in the second half to force overtime, but Villanova (17-2, 6-1) settled down in the overtime on its way to a 94-85 win on Saturday.

Villanova led 73-67 with 49 seconds left before Marquette guard Todd Mayo scored 10 points in 30 seconds — with the help of some Villanova missed free throws and Ryan Arcidiacono’s foul on Mayo’s three-point attempt —  to help the Golden Eagles tie the game at 77-all with five seconds remaining.

Then Villanova guard Tony Chennault (seven points) appeared to make the game-winning layup at the rim for the Wildcats after going coast-to-coast with under five seconds left, but the basket was waved off after the referees called a charge on Chennault as the guard ran into Marquette forward Steve Taylor under the hoop as Taylor attempted to take a charge.

Replays clearly showed that Taylor’s foot was in the restricted area and Villanova and head coach Jay Wright were livid with the call heading into the extra frame.

But credit Villanova for coming out and playing with fire and energy in overtime. With the Bradley Center at fever pitch following the improbable Marquette comeback, the Wildcats took the air out of the arena by building a quick five-point lead and never looking back.

Villanova had balanced scoring on the day as James Bell finished with 30 points and Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard each finished with 20 points. JayVaughn Pinkston added 12 points as well for the Wildcats.

The play of Arcidiacono — in particular — was huge for Villanova as the sophomore point guard also had 11 assists, and zero turnovers, and instantly stabilized the Wildcat offense during overtime.

Marquette needs to do a better job of mixing up its primary scoring options. Devante Gardner had a huge 29-point, 13-rebound effort, but he was the only Golden Eagle to score in overtime and Mayo (18 points) was the only Golden Eagle to score during the comeback in the final 40 seconds. If Gardner and Mayo can do a better job of alternating shots and also adding in Jamil Wilson (16 points, nine rebounds, seven assists), they’ll be a dangerous team in the Big East with how scrappy they play.

Villanova has to be happy with a road win with how close this series has been the last few years. Marquette is in the midst of a tough stretch, but the Bradley Center is never an easy place to win.

As good as they’ve been, No. 3 Michigan State has yet to play their best

Bryn Forbes, Ryan Fazekas
Associated Press
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Sunday night’s Wooden Legacy title game matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence was billed as a matchup of the nation’s two best players, and rightfully so. Michigan State senior Denzel Valentine (17 points, six rebounds, five assists), who already has two triple-doubles to his credit this season, and Providence redshirt junior Kris Dunn (21 points, five rebounds, seven assists) have more than lived up to the preseason expectations and more of the same was expected in Anaheim.

And while both had their moments, it was Michigan State’s supporting cast that made the difference in their 77-64 victory. The scary thing for future opponents on Michigan State’s schedule is that Tom Izzo’s team is nowhere near being a finished product.

With Valentine dealing with first-half foul trouble Bryn Forbes stepped up, scoring 13 of his 18 points to help the Spartans take a two-point lead into the half. As for the 11-0 run that Michigan State produced to take control of the game late, a host of players stepped forward in regards to scoring, rebounding and defending.

Freshmen Deyonta Davis and Matt McQuaid combined to score nine points over the final 5:32, with transfer guard Eron Harris adding six of his 12 points during that stretch. The Spartans outscored the Friars, who aren’t as deep, 22-7 during that stretch to close out the game, hunting for quality shots and hitting the offensive glass while making things difficult for Providence on the other end of the floor.

The end result was a final margin that does not indicate just how close the game was. While Providence seemed to run out of steam Michigan State received contributions from multiple players, which is undoubtedly a good sign for this group moving forward.

The Spartans will return the currently injured Gavin Schilling later this season, giving them another big man alongside Davis, Matt Costello and Colby Wollenman. He was a player they missed Sunday night, as he can defend opposing big men both in the post and on the perimeter. His absence was a main reason Michigan State didn’t have an answer for Providence’s Ben Bentil (20 points, seven rebounds) defensively.

The key for this group is going to end up being role definition, which is especially true in the case of Harris. A transfer from West Virginia, Harris came to East Lansing with the reputation of being a big time scorer. He’s struggled through the first two weeks of the season, but he got on a roll on Sunday night, finishing with 12 points, three boards and three assists. He showed he’s capable of doing a variety of things on the perimeter, and fitting into a “Swiss army knife” kind of role would make Michigan State that much more dangerous.

There’s no denying that Michigan State has been one of the nation’s best teams thus far.

But there’s also no denying that the Spartans have yet to hit their ceiling, which is definitely a positive moving forward.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady returns home with team

AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.
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Wichita State forward Anton Grady was released from a hospital in Orlando on Sunday afternoon in time to return home with his Shocker teammates.

Grady suffered a spinal corn concussion on Friday when he collided head-first with an Alabama defender, snapping his head sharply to the side. He lay on the court motionless for 10 minutes after the injury and was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

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“I want to send out a big thank you to Shocker Nation and all of my friends and family for of the love and encouragement that I have received the past few days,” Grady said in a statement on Sunday morning. “I’ve been reading your tweets and posts and appreciate every last one of them. I have a lot of work to do to get back on the court, but with the help of such a great support system, I’m ready for the challenge.”

By Friday night, Grady had feeling in all of his extremities, but he has a long road of rehab ahead of him.