Big Ten

Indiana gets 2016 pledge from Devonte Green, younger brother of Danny Green

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Indiana picked up its fourth Class of 2016 commitment on Saturday as guard Devonte Green, the younger brother of San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green, pledged to the Hoosiers. The 6-foot-1 Green announced his decision to commit to Indiana on Saturday afternoon.

Regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, Green can play a bit of both guard spots and helps Indiana with additional perimeter flexibility for next season. Green joins four-star shooting guard Curtis Jones, four-star big man Da’Ron Davis and three-star guard Grant Gelon in Indiana’s 2016 class.

With the Hoosiers losing Yogi Ferrell and Nick Zeisloft next season — and with the team dealing with roster uncertainty with James Blackmon’s season-ending injury and Troy Williams potentially going pro — Green gives Indiana another insurance policy. The late-blooming Green hails from New York and attends Long Island Lutheran.

Indiana rallies past Notre Dame with 17-2 second half run

Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell (11), right, drives on Notre Dame guard Demetrius Jackson (11) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Following a Demetrius Jackson tip dunk with 6:32 remaining that gave Notre Dame a 71-63 lead, Indiana looked to be in serious trouble at the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis. They weren’t stringing together stops defensively, thus preventing them from making a dent in the Fighting Irish advantage despite knocking down shots on the other end.

But Indiana went to a zone defensively and received a much-needed spark from Troy Williams, sparking a 17-2 run that turned the eight-point deficit into an 80-73 victory.

The junior wing scored seven of Indiana’s final 17 points, finishing with 18 points and ten rebounds on the afternoon. Williams’ intensity, like that of his teammates, hasn’t always been present this season especially on the defensive end of the floor. But that changed down the stretch against Notre Dame, with Bonzie Colson (24 points, eight rebounds) and V.J. Beachem (18 points) both going quiet as a result. Notre Dame shot a respectable 45.5 percent in the second half, but a lot of that damage was done early in the stanza.

Mike Brey’s team led by as much as 16, but the Hoosiers managed to avoid the play that could have served as the knockout blow. Ultimately the Hoosiers would take advantage of Notre Dame’s missed opportunities, and their play in the final six-plus minutes should be something for Tom Crean’s team to build upon.

But the question that begs asking is a simple one: why can’t Indiana play that way on a consistent basis?

There’s no question that the talent is present, with Ferrell running the point and multiple players capable of scoring on the wings such as Williams, James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson. But there hasn’t been a consistent commitment to getting stops instead of simply relying on their offensive talents and the mindset that “we’ll just get the points back on the other end.”

If Indiana is to compete with the likes of Michigan State, Maryland and Purdue in Big Ten play, they have to play with greater consistency and commitment on defense. Colson and Zach Auguste were a big reason why Notre Dame scored 46 points in the paint, as Indiana continues to struggle with its interior defense and that may be a trend the Hoosiers simply have to deal with. The move to zone helped Indiana account for this issue, and unlike their failed comeback attempt against UNLV last month the Hoosiers finished the job this time around.

The last six-plus minutes showed, to a certain extent, what Indiana is capable of when fully engaged. But the fact that they don’t play that way consistently is why there’s been so much frustration with this group. Can Saturday’s win serve as the spark Indiana needs? That remains to be seen.

No. 1 Michigan State rebounds from slow start to beat Northeastern

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No. 1 Michigan State’s trip to Boston to take on Northeastern wasn’t expected to be an easy one, as the Huskies are an experienced and talented group that picked up a win at No. 15 Miami earlier this season. And that’s how things played out at the start, with Bill Coen’s team dominating the boards and controlling the tempo.

But after a sloppy first ten minutes Tom Izzo’s team played at the level one would expect of the nation’s best team, going on to win 78-58 in a game shown on NBCSN.

At one point in the first half Northeastern had more offensive rebounds (nine) than Michigan State had total rebounds (five), with Zach Stahl and Kwesi Akabah proving particularly difficult for the Spartans to keep off the glass. But once Michigan State’s front court managed to complete defensive possessions with a rebound the Spartans were able to get out in the open floor and increase the game’s tempo, turning a tight game into a comfortable victory by game’s end.

Denzel Valentine accounted for 17 points, five rebounds and six assists, and by game’s end Michigan State finished with more second chance points than Northeastern (14-13). Add in 14 points off of 12 Northeastern turnovers, and Michigan State moved one win (12-0) closer to producing the best start in program history. Offensively the Spartans shot nearly 56 percent from the field and had three players reach double figures, with Bryn Forbes (12 points) and Tum Tum Nairn (11) joining Valentine.

Also of note for Michigan State was the return of forward Gavin Schilling, who missed the first 11 games due to injury. Schilling played just 11 minutes, producing four points and three rebounds, but he was the team’s best big man during their summer trip to Italy and his return gives the Spartans another option to call upon inside. That will be key for them moving forward, as he’ll join a rotation that includes fellow veteran Matt Costello and freshmen Deyonta Davis and Kenny Goins.

Michigan State’s first-shot defense was very good Saturday afternoon, as Northeastern shot just 37.3 percent from the field with David Walker scoring 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting. But the game didn’t change in their favor until the Spartans got back to cleaning up the defensive glass as they had in the 11 games prior, and that attention to detail will be key as Michigan State plays games of even greater magnitude later in the season.

Ohio State freshman Mickey Mitchell cleared to play by NCAA

Plano West's Mickey Mitchell, left, and  Houston Clear Lake's Orion Lewis (2), right, chase the ball during a UIL boys' 6A basketball state finals game, Saturday, March 14, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Ohio State freshman forward Mickey Mitchell has been declared eligible and will make his season debut on Saturday against Kentucky, according to a release from the school. The 6-foot-8 Mitchell is a consensus top-150 prospect in the Class of 2015 and should give the young and depleted Buckeyes a boost this season.

“Ohio State freshman forward Mickey Mitchell has been declared eligible by the NCAA Eligibility Center and will be available to play Saturday vs. Kentucky in New York,” Ohio State vice president and director of athletics Gene Smith said in the release. “The efforts of the NCAA staff to bring this to closure is greatly appreciated.”

A native of Texas, Mitchell is a very skilled passer and can run some point forward. This should help the struggling Buckeyes, who have seen inconsistent play from point guards JaQuan Lyle and A.J. Harris early this season. It’s hard to say how prepared Mitchell will be to impact the college game, but he was a decorated high school player and he’s been allowed to practice with Ohio State while waiting on the NCAA.

At the very least, he should help move the ball and provide some minutes.

WATCH LIVE: No. 1 Michigan State travels to Northeastern on NBCSN

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) brings the ball upcourt against Florida's Dorian Finney-Smith during the closing moments of the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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One of Saturday’s most interesting games will be featured on NBCSN and the NBC Sports Live Extra app in a 12:30 p.m. ET tip as Michigan State, the No. 1 team in the country, will head up to Beantown to take on Northeastern in a true road game. How often does that happen? The game is part of another cool event that Spartan AD Mark Hollis dreamed up, as Michigan State will be playing a triple-header in men’s hoops, women’s hoops and hockey against the Huskies.

The Spartans (11-0) are led by triple-double threat Denzel Valentine while Northeastern (7-3) will rely on the scoring capabilities of guard David Walker.

CLICK HERE to watch this game on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.

Forward Black now out indefinitely for Illinois

Illinois forward Leron Black (12) looks to pass while being guarded by Western Carolina forward Justin Browning (23) during an NCAA college basketball game in Champaign, Ill., Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. (AP Photo/Robin Scholz)
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Illinois forward Leron Black is now out indefinitely with a meniscus tear he suffered in early October.

Team spokesman Derrick Burson confirmed Black’s status Thursday.

Black had surgery on his right knee on Oct. 9 and has played limited minutes in just a handful of games since his return. He did not play in Illinois’ two most recent games.

The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Black was expected to start this season and offer inside scoring, rebounding and defense to a team that is short on all three.

Black is one of three would-be starters out long-term for Illinois (6-5). Point guard Tracy Abrams is out for the season, and coach John Groce has said he isn’t sure if center Mike Thorne Jr. will return.