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Late Night Snacks: Traevon Jackson propels Wisconsin past No. 9 Michigan State

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GAME OF THE DAY: Wisconsin 60, No. 9 Michigan State 58

Wisconsin entered Sunday’s game in need of a second consecutive victory in order to keep the momentum gained from their win at Illinois on Tuesday night. They did that thanks to Traevon Jackson, whose jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Madison. Wisconsin had four players finish in double figures, with freshman Nigel Hayes scoring 14 points off the bench to lead the way. As for Michigan State, Adreian Payne scored 24 points and Travis Trice added 13, nearly resulting in the Spartans winning in spite of a 3-for-20 afternoon from Gary Harris.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) St. John’s 70, No. 12 Creighton 65

The Red Storm may have begun Big East play with five consecutive losses, but by no means was their season over. Steve Lavin’s Red Storm have now won six of their last seven games, and the late-game defending of Doug McDermott (25 points) by Jakarr Sampson was critical on Sunday night. McDermott failed to score at all in the final 8:40 of the game, and his teammates were unable to make the plays needed to leave Madison Square Garden with the win. D’Angelo Harrison led the Red Storm, who are looking to fight their way into the NCAA tournament picture, with 19 points.

2) No. 1 Syracuse 57, Clemson 44

The Orange limited Clemson to 34% shooting from the field in winning their 23rd consecutive game, moving to 10-0 in the ACC. This is the first such start to conference play in school history for Syracuse, with C.J. Fair scoring 19 points to lead the way offensively. Next up: a game at No. 25 Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, but it remains to be seen if they’ll have center Baye Moussa Keita for that one. Keita left Sunday’s game after spraining his right knee in the first half.

3) No. 2 Arizona 76, Oregon State 54 

After squeaking out a two-point win on Thursday night against Oregon, the Wildcats took care of Oregon State in Tucson. Arizona shot 50% from the field, and defensively Nick Johnson and company limited Roberto Nelson to ten points on 3-for-12 shooting. Arizona will play its next three games on the road, beginning with a trip north to battle rival Arizona State on Valentine’s Day.

STARRED

1) A.J. English (Iona) 

English accounted for 32 points (10-for-17 FG), six assists and five rebounds in the Gaels’ 101-91 win at Canisius.

2) Xavier Johnson (Colorado)

Johnson scored 27 points (10-for-14 FG) and grabbed ten rebounds in the Buffaloes’ 91-65 beating of Washington. For the weekend Johnson averaged 23.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

3) TaShawn Thomas (Houston) 

Thomas tallied 25 points (10-for-12 FG), nine rebounds and six blocked shots in the Cougars’ 88-74 win over Temple.

STRUGGLED

1) Gary Harris (Michigan State)

Harris scored just six points on 3-for-20 shooting in the Spartans’ 60-58 loss at Wisconsin.

2) UCF starters not named Isaiah Sykes

While Sykes shot 6-for-13 from the field in the Knights’ 75-55 loss to No. 22 UConn, his fellow starters combined to shoot 1-for-15 from the field.

3) C.J. Wilcox (Washington) 

Wilcox shot 2-for-10 from the field (0-for-7 3PT), scoring eight points in the Huskies’ 91-65 loss at Colorado. Wilcox is averaging 19.8 points per game this season.

NOTABLES

  • Iona took a two-game lead in the MAAC with a 101-91 win at Canisius. A.J. English scored 32 points to lead the way for the Gaels.
  • Manhattan also completed the difficult sweep of the Buffalo schools, with Rhamel Brown’s block as time expired preserving a 78-77 win at Niagara. Brown finished the game with 22 points and six blocked shots.
  • Holy Cross beat Bucknell 66-50, picking up its seventh win in the last eight games. Justin Burrell led the Crusaders with 19 points and four rebounds.
  • Jerrold Brooks scored 19 points and Michael Craig 14 to lead Southern Miss to an 81-64 win over Charlotte, keeping pace with UTEP atop Conference USA as a result. A point of concern for the Golden Eagles: senior guard Neil Watson leaving the game in the first half with a sprained ankle.
  • Indiana State rebounded from its loss to No. 4 Wichita State with a 60-56 win over Drake. Khristian Smith scored 19 points off the bench for the Sycamores, who are 9-3 in Missouri Valley play.
  • Chaz Williams scored 21 points and dished out seven assists to lead UMass to a 73-68 win at Rhode Island.
  • Quincy Diggs’ jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining gave Akron a 65-63 win at Bowling Green. The win keeps Akron a game ahead of Ohio and Buffalo in the MAC East standings.
  • DeAndre Daniels made his return to the court for No. 22 UConn after missing the last two games, scoring 14 points in the Huskies’ 75-55 win at UCF. Lasan Kromah and Shabazz Napier tallied 17 points and seven rebounds apiece.

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.