Michigan State’s balanced attack too much for Wisconsin

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INDIANAPOLIS – After a sluggish start that sent Tom Izzo into a tizzy, the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans recovered nicely, earning a 65-52 victory over the No. 14 Wisconsin Badgers.

Spotting the Badgers nine points in the first two minutes of the game, the Spartans went on a 20-4 run over a seven minute span – in which they went 10-10 from the field, securing  a double-digit halftime lead that they would never relinquish.

The run was sparked by three consecutive  Austin Thornton three-pointers, a senior whose proving to serve as an invaluable piece to this team.

“Bizarre game, but I thought we played well,” Izzo said after the game. “I never felt comfortable, but for about 30 minutes there I thought we played some of our basketball of the season.”

As the game got chippy in the middle of the second-half, the pace slowed down and the Badgers cut the lead to six, but never got closer than that. With 12:10 remaining, Tom Izzo called a timeout to set up a post-play for Draymond Green. It resulted in a basket and foul that, in hindsight, essentially sealed the game.

From there the Spartans forced Wisconsin into bad shots or no shots, going on an11-2 run and kept the Badgers at bay until the final buzzer sounded. It was Michigan State’s third win over the Badgers this season.

Leading the way for the Spartans was Mr. Everything Draymond Green, who finished with 14 points. But with five players scoring at least nine points, the Big Ten’s top seed displayed their balanced attack to get the victory.

When the Spartans are clicking, they’re turning tough defense into easy offense, and have proven to be able to play both in the half court, or in transition.

The priority is establishing an inside game in the half-court and working the ball out when needed, but today they didn’t shy away from forcing the issue in transition.

Keith Appling, who finished with 13-points, was superb in wisely selecting when to push the ball and when to call an offensive set.

The Three Headed Monster of Green, Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix seemed down a man today, as Payne seeemd out of sorts – drawing plenty of ire from Izzo and his assistants.

Regardless, the win was impressive, and places the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship game for the first time since 2000.

Former LSU coach Johnny Jones hired by Texas Southern

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Johnny Jones is in charge of a college basketball program once again.

The former North Texas and LSU head coach will be the next head coach at Texas Southern, replacing Mike Davis, who left to take over at Detroit.

“I’m really excited about it,” Jones told Fox 26 in Houston. “This is a terrific opportunity with a great university in a great city.”

Jones went 90-72 in five seasons in Baton Rouge, but finished his final year, the 2016-17 season, with just a 10-21 record. He’s best-known for failing to get to the NCAA tournament with a team that featured Ben Simmons.

Coach K: ‘I have no plans to retire’

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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the greatest college basketball coach this side of John Wooden, said on Monday that he has given on thought to the idea of when he will call it quits.

“I have no plans to retire,” Krzyzewski said on the College Hoops Today Podcast. “I feel better than I have in a long time. I feel healthier than I have in a long time. There’s no end in sight.”

The question of whether or not Coach K will be around all that much longer has been something that has lingered over the sport given the numerous health issues that he has dealt with in recent years. He’s undergone surgery six times in the last two years and, at 71 years old, is at an age where most everyone is hoping to retire while working one of the most strenuous and time-consuming jobs imaginable.

Put another way, no one would blame Krzyzewski if he wanted to hang it up.

But instead, he is arguably at the top of his game. He’s churned out elite recruiting classes in each of the last four seasons, he’s won two National Titles in the last eight seasons and he has three of the nation’s top five prospects enrolling for the 2018-19 season.

He’s not slowing down.

So why would he thinking about leaving the game?

VIDEO: Mixtape for Duke commit R.J. Barrett, potential 2019 No. 1 pick

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Last week, after the NBA draft officially concluded, we posted a mock draft for the lottery in 2019.

At the top of that list was R.J. Barrett, a Duke-commit and Canadian-native that has NBA scouts wowed and intrigued. This mixtape should give you a good feel for why.

Trae Jefferson to transfer out of Texas Southern

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Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.

The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.

While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.

Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.

Nevada’s Josh Hall transfers to Missouri State

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Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.

Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.

Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.

Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.