AP Photo/Al Goldis

Bryn Forbes leads No. 2 Michigan State over Rutgers

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Bryn Forbes scored a career-high 33 points, hitting a conference record 11 3-pointers, and No. 2 Michigan State woke up in the second half to rout Rutgers 97-66 on Wednesday night, handing the Scarlet Knights their 17th straight loss.

Eron Harris added 15 points, Denzel Valentine 14 for Spartans (25-5, 12-5 Big Ten), who made 16 3-pointers in winning their fifth straight game and ninth in 10. Matt Costello had 10 points and matched his career-best with 15 rebounds.

Forbes’ 11th 3-pointer came on a fadeaway and it broke the single-game record of 10 set by John Diebler of Ohio State against Penn State in 2011.

If Michigan State beats Ohio State on Saturday in its regular-season finale it will earn a double bye in the conference’s upcoming tournament and the No. 2 seed.

Corey Sanders, who was returning from a four-game suspension, had 19 points for Rutgers (6-23, 0-17). The Scarlet Knights have now lost 32 consecutive conference games dating to last season.

Rutgers needs to beat Minnesota, the second worst team in the conference, to avoid a winless season in the league.

For a half, Rutgers had many wondering whether it was going to pull off the greatest upset in program history, topping the win against No. 4 Wisconsin last season.

The Scarlet Knights shot 67 percent from the field, making 16 of 24 shots, with Sanders leading the way with 15.

Only a 3-pointer by Forbes – of course – with 8.4 seconds left in the half gave Michigan State a 43-41 lead, and had many wondering what was going on with the Spartans.

They answered the question in the second half, outscoring Rutgers 20-3 in less than five minutes to take a 63-44 lead. Forbes, who was 11 of 16 from long range, hit three 3-pointers in the run and that was it.

If there was a lowlight in the half for Rutgers, it was Denzel Valentine dunking on a 5-on-none break with 5:55 to go.

Earlier in the half, Spartans coach Tom Izzo walked on the court and screamed at Valentine for something that miffed him.

TIP-INS

Michigan State: The Spartans tied a school record, hitting 17 three-pointers in a 96-62 win against Rutgers on Jan. 31. Coming into this game, they were leading the nation, making 43.3 percent from long range, with Forbes leading the nation individually at 50 percent.

Rutgers: After its hot shooting first half, the Scarlet Knights shot 8 of 28 in the second half in being outscored 54-25.

UP NEXT

Michigan State hosts Ohio State on Saturday.

Rutgers hosts Minnesota on Saturday.

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

Jok has a career-high 29 as No. 9 Iowa beats Rutgers

AP Photo/Mel Evans
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Peter Jok scored a career-high 29 points and No. 9 Iowa shook off pesky Rutgers in the second half in posting a harder-than-expected 90-76 victory on Thursday night.

Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons added 20 points apiece as the Hawkeyes (15-3, 6-0) won their eighth straight game and their 12th in a row in the Big Ten Conference, dating to last season.

Iowa used a zone defense late in the first half in a 16-7 run that gave it a 45-37 lead, and it opened the game up in the second half with its long-range shooting.

Mike Williams had 17 points to lead Rutgers (6-14, 0-7), which was coming off a 50-point loss to No. 22 Purdue on Monday, its worst home loss.

Jonathan Laurent, who was returning after missing four games with a concussion, added 14 points and Corey Sanders had 12 for the Scarlet Knights, who have lost their last 22 conference games, including tournament play.

Jok, who is the conference’s reigning player of the week, hit 10 of 19 from the field, and matched his season-high with five 3-pointers. He scored 10 of the Hawkeyes first 13 points and his last basket cut short Rutgers final rally.

His previous high was 24 points against Florida State earlier this season.

The Scarlet Knights put up a much better fight than against Purdue on Monday as they rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit and took a 30-29 lead on a basket by Williams with 4:26 to play.

Iowa soon switched to a zone and it opened a 45-37 lead as Clemmons scored six points and Jok and Uthoff added five in the 16-7 run.

The Hawkeyes were never threatened in the second half as Uthoff hit three 3-pointers in helping build a 19-point lead with 7:23 to play.

TIP-INS

Iowa: The Hawkeyes No. 9 ranking is the highest since Fran McCaffery took as the head coach in 2010, and the lowest since a No. 7 in November 2001. It also marks the first time Iowa has had its football and basketball teams ranked in the top 10 in the same season.

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights picked up their board game just days after Purdue outrebounded them 69-23. Iowa only held a 38-33 advantage with Adam Woodbury leading the way with 11. D.J. Foreman had nine for Rutgers.

UP NEXT

Iowa hosts No. 22 Purdue on Saturday.

Rutgers visits Michigan on Wednesday.

Online:

AP college basketball website: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

VIDEO: Monmouth Bench Mob reenacts ‘Star Wars’ scene in win at Rutgers

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The Monmouth Bench Mob has been one of the biggest stories in college basketball to this point in the season, as the Hawks’ deep reserves get highly creative in celebrating the successes of their teammates. And Sunday was no different, as King Rice’s team held off Rutgers 73-67 for their fifth win over a team from a high-major conference this season (all either on the road or on a neutral court).

The Bench Mob celebrated big plays throughout the game, from “playing” baseball after one three-pointer to getting on the floor and hitting the bench press after a teammate finished a basket while being fouled (there was also the reenactment of Santa with his reindeer and the dance from “Thriller”).

But their top celebration Sunday afternoon was their reenactment of a scene from “Star Wars,” a good move given the fact that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” hit theaters this weekend. The “Star Wars” celebration can be seen in the link above.

As for Santa and his reindeer, that celebration is below.

Videos courtesy of Big Ten Network

Three-star 2015 forward Leroy Butts commits to Rhode Island

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Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley started his 2015 recruiting class on Sunday morning with a verbal commitment from Elev8 Sports Academy (Florida) forward Leroy Butts.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN was the first report this news. It was quickly confirmed by Butts’ grassroots team, D.C. Premier.

The 6-foot-7 Butts had visited the Kingston, Rhode Island campus this weekend. In November 2013, he committed to Rutgers. At the time he held offers from Cincinnati and DePaul. Last week, he decommitted from Rutgers.

Former Rutgers assistant David Cox helped Butts choose the Scarlet Knights. Cox accepted a spot on Hurley’s coaching staff in May. Cox has roots in the Maryland/D.C. area. The Landover native previously served as an assistant coach at Georgetown. He began his coaching career with the D.C. Assault AAU program, which renamed itself D.C. Premier this year.

Butts, the three-star recruit, according to Rivals, is the first commit in Rhode Island’s Class of 2015. The Rams frontline will need to replace the production of Gilvydas Biruta, a Rutgers transfer, who has one year of eligibility remaining.

On the summer circuit, Butts is averaging 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for D.C. Premier in the Under Armour Association. The Washington D.C.-based program is currently third in the East Conference standings with an 8-2 record.

Kadeem Jack, DI’s most underappreciated junior?

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It hasn’t been a successful first season for Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan. Wins against Canisius and Temple have been off-set by a 4-10 conference record (10-17 overall), and the Scarlet Knights haven’t been able to post consecutive victories since the New Year. However, the team’s struggles shouldn’t detract from the play of Kadeem Jack, the team’s sole bright spot and arguably the nation’s most underappreciated junior.

To recap how the forward ended up in Piscataway: Jack wasn’t highly-regarded on the recruiting trail until the summer before his senior year at Rice High School, when high-majors like Arizona and North Carolina began to recruit the 6-foot-9 Jack. Rather than venture far from his NYC-based home, Jack committed to Rutgers. A redshirt his first season, Jack was a solid role player the next two years, and while he remained a Scarlet Knight following the firing of Mike Rice (and Jordan’s subsequent hiring), his outbursts this season was very much unexpected.

What’s accounted for Jack’s surprising play? Being more efficient at the rim. Athleticism has never plagued Jack — the forward can play above the rim — but Jack often couldn’t finish around the bucket. As a sophomore, 53 percent of Jack’s shots were in the paint, but he only converted 52 percent of those attempts. His percentage of takes has decreased (to 40 percent), but Jack is now connecting on a whopping 69 percent of those shots (per Hoop-Math.com). The result of this aggressiveness is more free throw attempts: a trip to the line for Jack used to incite heart palpitations for the Rutgers’ faithful, but Jack — whose taken 125 free throws in 2014, as compared 54 a season ago — is nearly converting 70 percent of his free throws. Jack is the Scarlet Knights’ most efficient offensive player, one whom Jordan has noted will have to carry the team if RU is going to make a push in the AAC tournament. As well as Jack has already played this year, a recent shift in Rutgers’ lineup could enable Jack to score more frequently — Jordan has said he would like to play Jack at center, noting the advantages (specifically, speed) he has versus opposing 5s. During the recent loss to Memphis, Jack started the second half at center and scored 18 points in the final twenty minutes.