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Branden Dawson to return to Michigan State for senior season

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Branden Dawson will return to Michigan State for his senior year, the school announced on Tuesday evening.

The Spartans will graduate point guard Keith Appling and center Adreian Payne this spring, and on Monday, sophomore guard Gary Harris declared for the 2014 NBA Draft. Having Dawson back for another season is big news for Tom Izzo.

“I was always pretty sure that I wanted to return for my senior season, but Coach Izzo said he would do what he does for all his players and gather some information,” Dawson said in a statement. “As he started making calls, my mom came up and we met with Coach. The three of us decided that as far as my basketball career, both present and future, and the chance to finish my degree, including possibly needing to take just one class during my final semester, that my initial decision was the correct one. I’m vowing to improve my consistency and am looking forward to a great final season. 

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

This past season, the 6-foot-6 guard/forward averaged 11.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He missed nine games due to a broken hand. In the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Dawson dropped 26 points and grabbed nine boards in a win over Harvard, followed by a 24-point, 10-rebound effort against No. 1 seed Virginia to propel Michigan State into the Elite 8.

“This last year, I made some big improvements in my game as I’ve worked on my shooting and ball handling. I know that with another offseason of hard work that I can make even more improvement and become more consistent,” he added. “After not being able to work on my game between my freshman and sophomore seasons due to an injury, I saw what a difference a summer can make last year. I’m ready to put in another summer of work and excited to see the results. I think I played some of the best basketball of my career over the last month, and I can’t wait to do that every game next season.”

Dawson is projected as an early second round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft according to DraftExpress.com

How did Gary Clark catch that alley-oop?

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 24:  Gary Clark #11 of the Cincinnati Bearcats shoots the ball against the Tulane Green Wave at Fifth Third Arena on January 24, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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No. 15 Cincinnati pounced on Memphis from the start, taking a 51-32 lead into halftime.

Then, Gary Clark decided to add insult to injury to start the second half. Seriously, how did he catch that?

Mick Cronin’s team is much better offensively than in previous seasons. I’m sure fans in the Fifth Third Arena can get used to seeing more plays like this.

Cassius Winston ends half with half-court 3-pointer

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans talks with Cassius Winston #5 in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Michigan State freshman guard Cassius Winston had just one field goal in the first half. And it was a half-court buzzer-beater as the Spartans capped a sizable run to take a 49-31 lead over Nebraska going into the break.

The Spartans ended the half on a 21-5 run.

Winston provided a serious boost off the bench during that stanza. Moments earlier, he helped the Breslin Center erupt when he lobbed a pass off the backboard to teammate Miles Bridges.

Michigan State opened the day projected as one of the final at-large bids in the NCAA Tournament. The margin for error is thing and it appears the Spartans are playing with a sense of urgency.

 

CBT Podcast: Mark Titus recaps Wednesday’s games

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 22: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks lays the ball up against JD Miller #15 and Jaylen Fisher #0 of the TCU Horned Frogs in the first half at Allen Fieldhouse on February 22, 2017 in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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Wednesday’s slate of games had several wild results.

Former Ohio State walk-on turned blogger turned author Mark Titus, who is currently writing for The Ringer, joined Rob Dauster on the latest episode of the CBT Podcast to go over last night’s games. The two also discussed who is the best team in the nation at the moment, as well Frank Mason III’s rap single from several years ago #BIFM

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and Audioboom

Roy Williams apologizes to Rick Pitino, hopes that never happens at UNC again

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates after his 800th career victory with a 85-68 win over the Syracuse Orange at the Dean Smith Center on January 16, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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North Carolina’s Roy Williams called fellow Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino to apologize for a fan’s behavior during Wednesday night’s game in Chapel Hill.

While leaving the floor at halftime, Pitino had to be restrained by members of the Louisville coaching staff and he and a UNC fan exchanged words as he made his way to the locker rom. There’s video of Pitino pointing and shouting at a fan, who reportedly said, “Pitino, you suck!”

“I don’t like that,” Williams said, according to the Charlotte Observer. “I mean we’re in North Carolina. We don’t have to be like everybody else. We can raise Cain. You can boo, but you don’t have to say the stuff that we as coaches have to put up with.”

“I hope that never happens at North Carolina ever again.”

No. 8 North Carolina defeated No. 7 Louisville, 74-63.

Bubble Banter: It’s a quiet night on the bubble

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Miles Bridges #22 reacts after being taken out of the game by head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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STILL TO PLAY

Georgia at Alabama (RPI: 68, KenPom: 61, next four teams), 7:00 p.m.

Nebraska at Michigan State (RPI: 43, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed), 7:00 p.m.

Towson at UNC Wilmington (RPI: 41, KenPom: 57, No. 12 seed), 7:00 p.m.