Illinois v Michigan State

For the first time in months, No. 22 Michigan State and Keith Appling look healthy


Keith Appling scored all 12 of his points in the second half, including eight points in a 12-4 surge that sparked a massive second half run as the No. 22 Spartans knocked off No. 24 Iowa, 86-76.

Those eight points from Appling came in a flurry, and the hope is that they will change the course of Michigan State’s season. It started with a free throw. Appling had been struggling with a wrist injury — and some shaky confidence — in recent weeks, and after a scoreless first half and a missed front end, Appling hit the second of two free throws which finally seemed to give him some confidence.

He made a layup off of a turnover on the next possession, following that up with a driving, reverse layup that showed the kind of explosiveness and aggressiveness we’ve been waiting to see out of him. Three possessions later, he buried a three in rhythm, and it was all downhill from there as the Spartans outscored Iowa 36-18 over a 12 minute stretch.

Appling would add another three and a lob to Dawson after driving through Iowa’s entire defense.

I know that it was only 20 minutes of basketball, but Appling’s second half was the best basketball that he’s played in a long time. He looked confident and he was attacking the basket, and the Spartans were a different team when he did. Their energy level was way up, they got out in transition, they locked up Iowa defensively. For the first time since January, Michigan State looked like the Michigan State we’ve been waiting for.

Here’s the question: was this just a blip on the radar? Was this the emotion of Senior Night boiling over? Was this just a by-product of the fact that Iowa hasn’t been able to keep a sofa cushion out of the paint for a month?

Or was this a sign of things to come?

We’ve said it all season long. If Michigan State gets healthy, they will be one of, if not the favorite to win the national title.

In the second half on Thursday night, they finally looked healthy.

Henry Ellenson wins Marquette Madness dunk contest

Steve Wojciechowski
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Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson won the Marquette Madness slam dunk contest on Friday night with a between the legs dunk.

The 6-foot-10 Ellenson, the top recruit in Steve Wojciechowski’s freshmen class, defeated sophomore Sandy Cohen, fellow freshman Sacar Anim and Wally Ellenson, his older brother.

Ellenson joins the Golden Eagles as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2015.

Bill Self signs $10,000 check for KU student


Late Night in the Phog is typically a night to remember for Kansas fans. For Kansas student Jerrod Martin Castro, Friday night’s event is one he won’t forget.

Castro, a sophomore, was selected as a contestant for a $10,000 giveaway. The only thing standing in the way of a big payday was a half-court shot. Brennan Bechard, the Kansas director of basketball operations, attempted the long-distance shot and hit nothing but net.

Kansas head coach Bill Self signed a $10,000 check on the spot.