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No. 4 Michigan State survives Iowa 96-93

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Once the calendar hits February, avoiding a bad loss can often be as important as earning a big win.

The fourth-ranked Spartans somehow survived their trip to Iowa City on Tuesday night — and if they can beat No. 3 Purdue on Saturday, their hopes for a Big Ten title will remain intact.

Miles Bridges had 25 points and a crucial steal with five seconds left and fourth-ranked Michigan State rallied past lowly Iowa 96-93 for its seventh straight win.

Nick Ward added 17 points and Joshua Langford had 15 for the tired Spartans (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten), playing their fifth game in 12 days. But they got a serious scare from the Hawkeyes in what was supposed to be a tune-up for Saturday’s huge home game against the Boilermakers.

“I hope y’all enjoyed the offensive fireworks, because I don’t think either team played any defense,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said of a game in which both teams shot over 50 percent. “These are the dog days.”

And Michigan State had a star in Bridges to make the big plays down the stretch.

After trailing by as much as eight, Bridges hit a pair of free throws to give Michigan State a 92-91 lead with 1:02 left. He hit two more from the line to make it a 3-point game.

Tyler Cook pulled Iowa within 94-93 — and Bridges missed both of his free throws after his big steal with his team ahead by 3. But Nicholas Baer could only muster up a half-court shot for the Hawkeyes, and it bounced harmlessly off the rim.

Cook scored 26 points for Iowa (12-14, 3-10), which was coming off a 24-point loss at Penn State.

And yet the team that its fans thought it might see all year suddenly showed up against the Spartans.

Moss then gave the Hawkeyes their first lead, 61-60, with 14:16 left. Jordan Bohannon pushed it to 68-64 on a transition 3, but Kenny Goines drilled a 3 with 2:10 left to put Michigan State back ahead 90-89.

“I’ll give you the best excuse I can give you. The five games in 12 days is really taking a toll on us,” Izzo said. “We were beat.”

Bohannon had 17 on five 3s despite missing Monday’s practice with an illness for Iowa, which clinched its first losing season in the Big Ten since 2011-12.

“He’s one tough dude,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said of Bohannon.

THE BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: What is it with the Hawkeyes that can give Michigan State such fits at times? Iowa beat the top-ranked Spartans by 13 in December of 2015 in Iowa City. Still, a road win in February can never be discounted — even if the Spartans continue to give their fans such stress. “We’re ways away from our ceiling,” Izzo said. “These guys are learning a lot. These guys are very, very young.”

Iowa: This was a major measure of progress for a program that has struggled mightily all year. “I’m really proud of their fight,” McCaffery said. A win would’ve been nice, but the Hawkeyes are building for 2018-19 anyway — and they got promising news on that front earlier Tuesday when commit Joe Wieskamp, a four-star recruit from nearby Muscatine, Iowa, broke the state record for points in his class.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Even with a win over Purdue, the Spartans could take a tumble next week. The Boilermakers led Iowa by 31 at halftime on the road in cruising to a blowout win.

THE NUMBERS

This was the highest scoring Iowa-Michigan State game since 1988, when the Hawkeyes won 103-87 in East Lansing. …Michigan State finished 24 of 29 from the line. …Iowa shot 9 of 20 on 3s, but was just 12 of 19 from the line. In a game in which fouls were plentiful, that stat really bit the Hawkeyes. …Michigan State was 24 of 40 inside the arc. …Iowa had four guys with four or more assists.

UP NEXT

Michigan State hosts the third-ranked Boilermakers. Purdue plays No. 14 Ohio State, which sits a game back in the Big Ten, on Wednesday.

Iowa plays at Ohio State on Saturday.

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More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

Wichita State’s Landry Shamet out sick against Tulane

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Wichita State guard Landry Shamet will miss the Shockers’ game against Tulane on Wednesday night as he sits out due to illness.

Dressed in street clothes for the AAC conference clash, Shamet has put up All-American-caliber numbers for Wichita State this season as he’s putting up 14.7 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Without Shamet in the lineup, it gives Samajae Haynes-Jones a potential shot at minutes as he’s fallen out of the rotation over the last several weeks. Wichita State is still heavily favored against Tulane at home on Wednesday but they have an important three-game stretch to close out the conference season. The Shockers have to go on the road to play SMU and UCF before closing out the conference slate with an important home game against Cincinnati.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III out for the fourth straight game with knee injury

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Duke star freshman big man Marvin Bagley III will miss his fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night as he continues to battle a knee injury.

The 6-foot-11 freshman suffered a mild knee sprain in his right knee in Duke’s game against North Carolina on Feb. 8 as he’s missed the Blue Devils’ last three games — all wins. Bagley will miss Duke’s contest against Louisville on Wednesday as he’s also missed games against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Clemson.

Duke still has three regular-season games after Wednesday before the ACC tournament starts as Bagley still has plenty of time to heal and recover before the postseason begins.

Bagley is putting up 21.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for Duke this season as he’s a consensus top-five pick in most 2018 NBA mock drafts. Without Bagley in the lineup, Duke has continued to play well and win games as they’ve still had big man Wendell Carter to handle things on the interior.

 

Rick Pitino: ‘I had no knowledge’ of the violations that led to banner coming down

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Disgraced ex-Louisville head coach Rick Pitino spoke at a press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon and denied any knowledge of the violations that were committed by Andre McGee, any potential NCAA violations involving the recruitment of Brian Bowen and pushed for Louisville to file an injunction against the NCAA’s decision to remove the 2013 national title banner.

“I take full responsibility for everyone I hire,” Pitino said. “To say I’m disappointed with the NCAA ruling is a gross understatement.”

“I have apologized many times. I feel awful for what happened. I’ve run a clean program all my life. [Sitting where you are], I would agree with you. It looks bad. I’ve coached for 41 years. For 35, as a head coach, nothing has come up.”

Pitino went on to say that he “hired the wrong person” when he made the decision to bring McGee onto his staff. McGee is the one that was responsible for hosting the parties and bringing the strippers and sex workers to them.

“I had no knowledge of the reprehensible things that went on in that dormitory,” Pitino said. “Did a few of [my players] partake in parties they didn’t organize? Yes, they did. That had nothing to do with an extra benefit,” going on to add that attending these parties were not the reason that Louisville won the 2013 national title.

Pitino also denied any involvement in the recruit of Bowen, a five-star prospect that committed to Louisville in a deal that was supposed to get his family paid $100,000 from Adidas.

“In 40 years of coaching, I have never been involved, directly or indirectly, in any effort to pay any money or extend any improper benefit to any recruit or recruit’s family members or representatives,” he said.

Pitino said that he has not had any discussions about coaching again or looking for a job this spring, but he did say that he does “miss it.” He also urged the new University of Louisville administration to fight this decision in court, to file an injunction and do what they can to keep Louisville from having to sacrifice a national title banner.

No other Division I basketball program has ever had a national title vacated.

“The NCAA,” Pitino said, “cannot rewrite history by taking a banner down.

John Wall is heading back to school to get a business degree

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John Wall, the former Kentucky star that helped launch Coach Cal’s one-and-done movement in Lexington, is planning on using a piece of that $207 million contract extension that he signed last July for summer school.

“I’m going back to school this summer to get my business degree,” Wall told the Washington Post this week. “That’s what I’m focusing on. I promised my dad that.”

Wall’s dad died when he was eight years old, and anyone that knows his story knows that it hasn’t been the easiest path for Wall to get from that moment to this moment.

So good for John.

Seriously.

I do believe that it is important to educate yourself, even if that education is something as simple as learning how to run a business on your own.

But I also think that, in the larger context of basketball and, specifically, the one-and-done rule, this is important to note. Wall left school as a 19-year old, made a whole bunch of guaranteed money on his rookie deal, got more guaranteed money on his first contract extension and now is working under a contract that will pay him nine figures with a crooked number in front. Throw in endorsement deals, and by the time Wall hangs up his sneakers, he could end up banking close to half a billion dollars.

That’s more than enough money to be able to pay for three years worth of classes at Kentucky to finish his undergrad degree, get a master’s and become a PhD. For Wall, that financial hit would be like the financial hit you or I take for adding chips and guac at Chipotle. (But not queso. We pretend their queso doesn’t exist.)

My point is this: The time a person has to educate themselves never ends. The time that Wall, or any professional athlete, has to profit off of their ability does, and much sooner than most think.

So the next time you decide to criticize a player for leaving school early to chase their professional dreams or because they’re just looking to get paid or because they don’t care about education, just think about this.

USC guard to leave school, turn pro

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It appears that De’Anthony Melton’s college career has come to an end.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard for the USC Trojans announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving school. Melton, a sophomore, was caught up in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball and has not played in a game this season.

“I have reached a crossroads wherein I have decided to focus on honing my strengths and improving upon my weakness for competition at the next level,” Melton said in a statement.

And athletic wing with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, Melton averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 boards, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals as a freshman. He is considered a potential first round pick.