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VIDEO: Miles Bridges throws down between-the-legs dunk

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When Miles Bridges made the decision to sign with Michigan State, the Spartans knew that they were getting one of the top prospects in the stacked Class of 2016. And as Bridges has shown during the summer, he’s going to bring some serious excitement to the Breslin Center this winter.

Thursday night at the Moneyball summer league Bridges threw down a between-the-legs dunk…in game action. Bridges had a clear lane with no one between he and the basket, and he took advantage of the situation to give the fans in attendance a show.

Not expecting Bridges to try this during a game this winter (imagine Tom Izzo’s reaction if he did), so getting the opportunity to see this skilled wing do so during the summer is adequate.

College names surface in reports regarding Lakers coaching vacancy

Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has a word with guard Rodney Purvis (44) during an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP)
Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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With some NBA head coaching jobs opening up, it’s that time of year when the names of prominent college basketball head coaches get mentioned for such opportunities. Of course we’ve all become used to the annual rumors involving Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who has yet to move away from one of the top jobs in the sport.

His name is one that has come up in recent reports surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers’ opening, with Connecticut’s Kevin Ollie and Villanova’s Jay Wright among those being mentioned by various outlets as well.

Ollie, who led his alma mater to a national title in his second season at the helm, was mentioned in reports by both Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.

Ollie told ESPN’s Andy Katz on Monday that he has had no contact with the Lakers. He said he will always listen if called but it would take “something very special” to pull him away from UConn.

Ollie’s contract, which was signed after he led the Huskies to the national title in 2014, has a clause that would allow him to terminate his contract without penalty “on or after the one-year anniversary” of the departure of either athletic director Warde Manuel or UConn president Susan Herbst. Manuel left UConn in January to take over as athletic director at Michigan (his first official day was March 14), so a departure now would not meet the one-year requirement.

The buyout to leave for an NBA job would be $4 million until May 31, with the buyout amount dropping to $1 million after that date.

The latter report also named Wright, Calipari, Tom Izzo and Roy Williams as names the Lakers could consider for their opening. Wright led Villanova to its second national title earlier this month, and his Wildcats have won the last three Big East regular season titles.

NBA franchises have been more willing to look at successful college coaches in recent years, with Fred Hoiberg and Billy Donovan making the jump to the pros last season. Hoiberg took over in Chicago, but things didn’t go as planned for the Bulls as they missed out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 season. As for Donovan, he’s running the show in Oklahoma City where the Thunder are up three games to one on the Mavericks.

Both coaches took jobs with (at first glance) the talent needed to be successful, which is a far cry from the jobs Calipari and Rick Pitino took with the Nets and Celtics respectively during the mid-1990’s. Does the Lakers job fit that mold? Having won a total of 38 games in their last two seasons, not to mention needing to fill the hole left by the retirement of Kobe Bryant, one can argue that this would not be an optimal job for a college coach to take.

But with the Lakers being a franchise that’s won 16 titles, the appeal of leading such a storied franchise can’t be denied even with the recent struggles.

Valentine leads No. 2 Michigan St. past Ohio St. 81-54

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) reacts on the bench during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio State in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Big Ten player of the year Denzel Valentine scored 19 points and Eron Harris added 13 to help No. 2 Michigan State blow out Ohio State 81-54 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday night.

The Spartans (27-5) have won 11 of 12 and will face either Nebraska or No. 18 Maryland in Saturday’s semifinal.

JaQuan Lyle had 10 points to lead the Buckeyes (20-13), who have lost three of five and must wait until Sunday to see if they’ll get in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State thought one more impressive win could be enough.

But Valentine refused to let it happen against the Spartans. He scored 10 points in an early 13-3 run, made a 3-pointer during an 8-0 run to start the second half and finished with nine rebounds and eight assists.

Michigan State led by as much as 28 in the second half. The Buckeyes couldn’t get closer than 14 after that.

Valentine may have gotten a triple double – if coach Tom Izzo hadn’t pulled him from the game with 5:28 to play so he could get some extra rest before the weekend.

The short-handed Buckeyes just couldn’t stay with the deeper Spartans and it was evident from start to finish.

Michigan State jumped to a 17-7 lead in the first 6 1/2 minutes and still led 33-26 at halftime.

The early run in the second half gave the Spartans a 41-26 lead. Bryn Forbes’ 3-pointer with 13:07 left extended the lead to 20 and the Spartans continued pulling away late.

SHUT OUT

While it was a rough night by every measure for the Buckeyes, their most obvious problem was the inability to make 3s. Ohio State missed its first 12 shots from beyond the arc and didn’t end the drought until Lyle made one with 74 seconds to play. Ohio State finished 1 of 13, while the Spartans were 8 of 23.

TIP-INS

Buckeyes: Have lost five straight in the Michigan State series. … Ohio State has played five games against teams that reached last year’s Final Four and is now 1-4, losing three times to Michigan State in 17 days, once to Wisconsin. The lone win came against Kentucky in December. … The Buckeyes lost for only the fourth time in their last 19 Big Ten tourney games.

Spartans: Are one win away from playing for their third consecutive Big Ten tourney title in Indianapolis. … Matt Costello had no blocks and remains tied with Adreian Payne for second on Michigan State’s career list with 141. Branden Dawson has the school record, 142. … The Spartans improved to 91-35 in March games since 1998-99.

UP NEXT

Buckeyes: Will await postseason fate.

Spartans: Face either No. 18 Maryland or Nebraska in Saturday’s second semifinal.

VIDEO: Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes hits Big Ten record 11 three-pointers

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The odds were certainly stacked against Rutgers Wednesday night, as they were facing a team in No. 2 Michigan State that arrived in Piscataway having won eight of its last nine games. Michigan State moved to 9-1 over their last ten with a 97-66 win, blowing out the Scarlet Knights in the second half after leading by just two at the half.

And in the win, Michigan State guard Bryn Forbes set a Big Ten record with 11 made three-pointers. Forbes, who scored all 33 of his points on three-pointers, shot 11-for-16 from beyond the arc against a defense that at times appeared to forget that he’s one of the best perimeter shooters in the country.

After shooting 42.7 percent from three last season, Forbes is knocking down those shots at a 50 percent clip for Tom Izzo and Wednesday night he did his damage in 27 minutes of action. And over Michigan State’s last five games, all wins, Forbes shot 61.4 percent (27-for-44) from distance.

Video credit: Big Ten Network

No. 6 Michigan State beats Penn State 88-57 after slow start

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine drives against Nebraska during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Tom Izzo has been telling his players when they’re not making shots that defense and rebounding can win games, especially in the NCAA Tournament.

No. 6 Michigan State showed that against Penn State on Sunday.

Denzel Valentine started slow and finished strong with 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists to help the sixth-ranked Spartans beat the Nittany Lions 88-57.

Valentine missed his first six shots as Michigan State was off to a 3-of-15 shooting start.

“Our defense and rebounding kept us in the game and that’s the way we have to win as we move forward,” Izzo said. “It makes me feel like they’re listening.”

The Spartans (24-5, 11-5 Big Ten) have won four straight and eight of nine, outscoring teams by 21-plus points in those victories and losing only to then-No. 18 Purdue by one point in overtime on the road during the stretch.

“I think we’ve got a chance to make a run,” Izzo said.

Penn State had been on a relatively successful run recently.

The Nittany Lions (15-14, 6-10) had won three straight and four of five, including victories over then-No. 4 Iowa and then-No. 22 Indiana.

“We were hopeful to put up a fight at least,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “And, we didn’t do that.”

Chambers did his part by being feisty.

He was ejected with 4:53 left in the first half when he was called for two technical fouls within the same rant. Chambers had to be held back by his coaching staff, two assistants at one point, as he tried to charge toward officials more than once before leaving the court. After Chambers was ejected, he started to gather his team for some parting thoughts before he tried to go back at the officials.

“We’re trying to buck the system of being the brunt of everybody’s jokes,” Chambers said. “So we’re going to fight, players are going to fight.”

After the Spartans’ miss-filled start, they connected on 14 of 18 shots.

“We played hard with energy and effort,” Valentine said.

Despite making just 37 percent in the second half, they easily maintained their comfortable cushion.

“Michigan State is playing at an incredible level,” Chambers said.

Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis and Bryn Forbes scored 15 points each and Matt Costello had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Shep Garner had 22 points and Devin Foster scored 11 for the Nittany Lions during a game in which their respect for Chambers grew.

“I love it when Coach comes out and battles for us,” Garner said. “That’s what he does. He puts his neck on the line.”

TIP INS

Penn State: Brandon Taylor entered the game as the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. He fouled out with 7:20 left in the game with as many fouls as he had combined points (2) and rebounds (3). The 6-foot-6 senior forward, who shared Big Ten player of the week honors on Monday, was averaging 16.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. Taylor had scored in double digits the previous 16 games, including 24- and 18-point outputs against the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes. … While Chambers was kept away from the court in the second half, one of his assistants was called for a technical foul.

Michigan State: Valentine, a national player of the year candidate, has a chance to become the first player in at least three decades to average 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. He entered the game averaging nearly 20 points, seven-plus rebounds and more than seven assists per game. The NCAA began keeping assists as an official statistic during the 1983-84 season.

UP NEXT

Penn State hosts Northwestern on Thursday.

Michigan State plays at Rutgers on Wednesday.

Online:

http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage

Valentine-led No. 8 Michigan State beats Wisconsin 69-57

Denzel Valentine
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Denzel Valentine had 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a 69-57 victory over Wisconsin on Thursday night.

The Spartans (22-5, 9-5 Big Ten) went from eighth place in the conference into a four-way tie for fourth with their sixth win in seven games.

Michigan State’s Bryn Forbes scored 17 points and Eron Harris had 10.

The Badgers (16-10, 8-5) had won seven straight games dating to their victory Jan. 17, at home against Michigan State.

Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ scored 18 points and Bronson Koenig had 12 with a scoring surge late in the game. Nigel Hayes was held to a season-low five points, 12 below his team-high scoring average, for the Badgers.

The Valentine-led Spartans took control early and never gave up the lead. Valentine had three assists and two points 3:13 into the game, helping Michigan State take a 10-3 lead. He assisted on or scored every basket for the Spartans when they built a 23-10 lead. The senior guard had nine points and seven assists in 17 minutes, helping Michigan State to a 32-23 halftime lead.

The Spartans started the second half strong, building a 13-point lead on Matt Costello’s dunk off an assist from Valentine. They didn’t have much trouble keeping a comfortable cushion against a team that was coming off a 13-point victory on the road against then-No. 2 Maryland, one of three ranked teams it beat during the seven-game winning streak.

TIP-INS

Wisconsin: Koenig extended his streak with a 3-pointer to 37 games, but didn’t do much else for the Badgers until late in the game when it was out of reach. … Happ had a strong showing after the freshman was held to single digits in three of the previous four games, including scoring a total of six points combined in the previous two.

Michigan State: The Spartans hosted Wisconsin in their only game during an eight-day stretch that will give coach Tom Izzo a chance to fine tune his team toward the end of the regular season. … Michigan State matched its lowest scoring total since Jan. 2 when it scored 69 points in a win at Minnesota.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin hosts Illinois on Sunday.

Michigan State is at Ohio State on Tuesday.

Online:

http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage and follow his work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/larry-lage