Roy Devyn Marble, Lenzelle Smith

Tuesday’s Pregame Shootaround: Big Ten battle, Kentucky in the Bayou

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 7 Michigan State at No. 15 Iowa, 7:00 p.m.

Two weeks ago, Iowa was the trendy pick to win the Big Ten. Then the Hawkeyes lost to Michigan and ceded that title to the Wolverines. In fact, while Iowa may be one of the most talented teams in the country, they are still without a defining win this season. Xavier, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Minnesota. These are all good wins. They aren’t elite wins. Beating Michigan State, even if they are injury-ravaged, would be.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 11 Kentucky at LSU, 9:00 p.m.

This should have been one of the best games of the season in the SEC, but LSU simply has not been as good as we all expected this season. They have an NBA-caliber front line and a good enough back court, but the pieces just don’t quite fit right now. They do, however, matchup well with Kentucky. Johnny O’Bryant is big enough to get physical with Willie Cauley-Stein and the Tigers have enough size that they won’t need to sell out defensively to matchup with Julius Randle.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: New Mexico at Utah State, 11:05 p.m.

Utah State is one of the toughest places in the country to place, taking San Diego State to overtime on Saturday night. New Mexico may be forced to play without Alex Kirk, and even if he does play, he may not be at 100%. The good news for the Lobos? Hugh Greenwood seems to finally be hitting his stride this season.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO WATCH:

1) Notre Dame hasn’t been the same team since Jerian Grant saw his season come to an end in December. They’re sitting at 2-5 in the ACC, and they host one of the hottest teams in the country in Virginia. The ‘Hoos have won six of their last seven since getting dropped by 35 points at Tennessee.

2) Interesting matchup in Omaha as No. 20 Creighton will do battle with St. John’s. The Johnnies have the kind of size and athleticism at the forward spot to give Doug McDermott trouble.

3) No. 4 Wichita State will have their undefeated record on the line tonight as they host Loyola (IL).

4) Missouri will head to Arkansas in a key game for a pair of teams that looks like they could end up sitting on the bubble come Selection Sunday.

5) Baylor has gotten off to a horrid, 1-5 start in Big 12 play. They’ll have a chance to turn that around tonight as they host West Virginia. The Bears will have plenty of chances to put together enough wins to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament. They have the talent, too. Can West Virginia be the cure to their woes?

Iowa cruises past No. 25 Iowa State

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20:  Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Iowa picked up a major win on Thursday night, defeating in-state rival No. 25 Iowa State, 78-64, in a contest the Hawkeyes thoroughly dominated.

Let’s put it this way: the Hawkeyes have played four top-100 teams, according to kenpom. In those games, all losses by the way, their defense has surrendered 91 points to Seton Hall, 74 points to a Virginia team that plays at the slowest tempo in the country, 100 points to Memphis and 92 points to Notre Dame.

On Saturday, on the same floor Iowa demolished the Cyclones, its defense allowed 98 points in a loss to Nebraska Omaha.

This is exactly the sort of win Fran McCaffery and Co. needed to right the ship as we inch closer and closer to conference play.

When the Cyclones went to their bench in the first half, Nick Baer sparked a 10-0 run which helped set the tone for the remainder of the half. Iowa State went without a field goal for more than six minutes during that span.

Iowa kept Iowa State from getting out and running, holding the Cyclones to zero fast break points through the first 20 minutes and limiting them to only 36 percent from the floor as a team. Iowa, on the other hand, shot 47 percent, including 59 percent in the first half, which led to a 15-point halftime lead.

Peter Jok torched Iowa State to the tune of 23 points (4-of-7 from distance).

Monte Morris was held in check with 10 points, while Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas shot a combined 4-of-13 from three (they each hit a three with less than three minutes to play and the outcome all but decided).

Iowa State’s offense is becoming a bigger concern. Just like against Gonzaga, the Cyclones dug a first-half hole they could shoot out their way of. And like last week’s overtime loss to Cincinnati, they struggled from beyond the arc.

Iowa landed a marquee win it needed, while its rival headed home with questions to answer after losing three of four.

 

Alabama wing sidelined due to weight loss

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Avery Johnson of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at HP Field House on November 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Alabama junior wing Nick King will not be with the team for Sunday evening’s matchup against No. 24 Oregon in Eugene.

According to Rainer Sabin of the AL.com, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said King undergoing a series of tests after losing more than 10 pounds in less than a week and a half.

Johnson told reporters that he is “very concerned” and estimates that as of now King will be sidelined for “a week or two.”

King, who played his first two seasons at Memphis, has appeared in all seven games for the Crimson Tide, averaging 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game.

Damonte Dodd out with MCL sprain

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 13: Melo Trimble #2 and Damonte Dodd #35 of the Maryland Terrapins react to a call as Alex Illikainen #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on in the second half at Xfinity Center on February 13, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. Wisconsin won 70-57.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Maryland could be without the services of starting center Damonte Dodd for the remainder of the non-conference slate, the team announced on Wednesday.

Dodd suffered a MCL sprain in his left knee during practice earlier this week. The injury caused him to miss Wednesday’s 76-56 win over Howard. He will not be available for matchups with St. Peter’s and Jacksonville State. The Terrapins then close out the non-conference slate at Charlotte on Dec. 20 before opening up Big Ten play a week later.

Dodd has started in six of seven games he’s appeared in this season. He’s averaging 5.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Michael Cekovsky started in place of Dodd on Wednesday night. Ivan Bender, who returned to the lineup against Howard after missing the previous contest, should also see an increase in minutes with Dodd sidelined.

Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.

Washington State coach begins game on opponent’s bench

Ernie Kent
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In September, during the Coaches vs. Cancer Gala in Spokane, Washington, there was a live auction, which included the chance to be Idaho’s honorary coach for a regular season during the 2016-17 season.

Washington State head coach Ernie Kent’s $2,000 bid more than tripled the next highest bid, according to the Spokesman Review.

On Wednesday night, during Washington State’s game against the Vandals, Kent sat next to his counterpart on the Idaho bench.

Kent returned to his side of the court following the game’s first possession.

Behind 16 points from Ike Iiroegbu, the Cougars defeated the Vandals, 61-48.