Denzel Valentine

Shorthanded Michigan State steals a 71-69 overtime win over Iowa

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Michigan State, No. 7 team in the nation, was without Braden Dawson and Adreian Payne for the second straight game (sixth straight without Payne). Unlike, Saturday’s loss to in-state rival Michigan, the shorthanded Spartans stole one from No. 15 Iowa with a 71-69 road victory in overtime on Tuesday night.

Despite missing its top two rebounders, the Spartans matched the Hawkeyes on the glass with 38 boards each. There was a significant difference in free throw attempts with Iowa visiting the line 43 times (69.8 percent) to Michigan State’s 20 attempts (55 percent). Knocking down free throws became big for Iowa. For almost the final 10 minutes of regulation, all of Iowa’s points came from the line. That stretched into overtime until Roy Devyn Marble’s lay-in cut the lead to 71-69.

One of the best offenses in the nation shot 1-for-13 from the field in almost 15 minutes, which spanned the end of regulation and into overtime. Two missed Keith Appling free throws left the door open but Mike Gessell’s layup, as time expired, was no good.

Appling scored 12 points, and Gary Harris ended with nine; both of them logging 40 or more minutes. Appling made a big 3-pointer to put Michigan State up 64-63 in overtime. But several role players stepped up, and make critical plays when Michigan State needed them.

Denzel Valentine scored 12 points while Travis Trice added 10 off the bench, including three 3-pointers. The biggest 3-pointer came from Russell Byrd, who played 18 minutes on Tuesday night — he had played 22 minutes in the month of January entering the game. The junior, who has struggled with injuries in his time in East Lansing, drilled a corner three to put Michigan State up six.

The frontline was manned by Matt Costello, registered 11 points and 12 rebounds.

It was reported on Tuesday afternoon that Payne could return as early as Feb. 6 against Penn State. Even without Payne (and Dawson), Michigan State gutted out an overtime win against a talented, and deep Iowa team. Makes you wonder what this team is capable of in March with its full arsenal.

Michigan State travels to New York City to take on Georgetown in a non-conference clash at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon. Iowa is back in action later on Saturday at Illinois.

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: