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No. 5 Michigan holds off Northwestern for 62-60 win

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EVANSTON, Ill. — Ignas Brazdeikis scored 13 of his 23 points in the second half and Jordan Poole made two big plays in the last 2 1/2 minutes to help No. 5 Michigan hold off Northwestern for a 62-60 victory Tuesday night.

Poole finished with 15 points as the Wolverines (9-0, 2-0 Big Ten) added to their best start since they opened the 2012-13 season with 16 straight victories. Zavier Simpson scored 10 points, and Jon Teske had eight points and 10 rebounds.

The game was tied at 58 when Poole fed Teske for a dunk with 2:30 left. After Ryan Taylor made a jumper for Northwestern, Poole drove inside for another dunk that made it 62-60 with 1:53 left.

Michigan had a shot-clock violation with 14 seconds to go, giving Northwestern one last chance. Taylor was long on a desperation 3-pointer as time expired.

Dererk Pardon led the Wildcats (6-3, 0-2) with 20 points on 9-for-10 shooting. Vic Law shook off a slow start and finished with 19.

It was a second straight tough defeat for Northwestern, including a 68-66 loss at Indiana on Saturday.

Michigan appeared to be in control after opening the second half with a 9-0 run to make it 45-30 with 17:19 left. But Northwestern came roaring back.

Pardon’s driving layup sparked a 15-2 spurt for the Wildcats. A.J. Turner’s three-point play sliced Michigan’s lead to 47-45 with 13:16 remaining, sending a charge through the crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena and prompting the Wolverines to take a timeout.

Brazdeikis helped Michigan settle down, converting a layup to make it 51-45 with 11:30 left. The freshman, who exited for a brief moment in the first half due to a back issue, went 9 for 18 from the field.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: The Wolverines had some defensive issues in the second half but helped themselves with a 33-26 rebounding advantage for the game.

Northwestern: Law sparked the Wildcats in the second half, scoring 11 points.

UP NEXT

Michigan stays home for the next month, beginning Saturday against South Carolina. The Wolverines’ next road game is Jan. 10 at Illinois.

Northwestern hosts DePaul on Saturday and doesn’t play another Big Ten game until Jan. 2 at Michigan State.

Monday’s Things to Know: Michigan State knocks off Iowa; Wisconsin rallies to win

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Monday night’s college basketball action didn’t have a ton of enticing options. But the Big Ten continued its early conference play while some ranked teams also battled unranked opponents in plenty of buy games.

1. No. 10 Michigan State blows out No. 18 Iowa

The only matchup between ranked opponents on Monday featured this Big Ten matchup in East Lansing. Despite the Spartans facing some recent question marks, and Iowa looking like a really solid team with some early wins over Oregon and UConn, this game wasn’t particularly close as Michigan State earned the blowout win.

The interior play for the Spartans was a huge plus as Nick Ward, Kenny Goins and Xavier Tillman all came close to getting double-doubles. I have three takeaways on this one here.

2. No. 12 Wisconsin rallies to knock off Rutgers

Big Ten play also continued on Monday as the Badgers hosted a game in Madison. The Scarlet Knights held the halftime lead in this one before Ethan Happ and Wisconsin pulled away in the second half of a 69-64 win.

Happ had 20 points, four rebounds and three assists as the Badgers had to grind out the conference win. D’Mitrik Trice chipped in 14 points, as he added a dagger jumper with under a minute left to help seal the win.

While Wisconsin is supposed to win these home games against Big Ten bottom feeders, it was good positive to see the Badgers handle some adversity early in the season. Last season, there’s a chance Wisconsin would have folded in that situation. But they’re a year older and more experienced to close out tight conference games.

Rutgers is better than last year, but they’re still a team any reasonable Big Ten contender needs to take care of at home to stay in the league title race.

3. Pitt gets upset by Niagara

With not many games going on, it meant there weren’t a lot of notable results on Monday. So Pitt losing at home to Niagara is something to make light of.

Nobody is expecting the young Panthers and first-year head coach Jeff Capel to make any kind of significant noise in the ACC this season. But losing a Niagara team playing without leading scorer and rebounder Marvin Prochet is not great. The Purple Eagles were 2-4 on the season entering this game as they weren’t expected to be a major contender in the MAAC.

Rough stretches were expected for a Pitt team playing a lot of freshmen and newcomers. But now they’ll need to figure things out quickly before heading to West Virginia for a road game next.

Happ scores 20, rallies No. 12 Badgers past Rutgers 69-64

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MADISON, Wis. — Ethan Happ scored 20 points and D’Mitrik Trice added 14 as No. 12 Wisconsin rallied to beat Rutgers 69-64 on Monday night.

Nate Reuvers finished with 10 points, and Happ, who scored 12 second-half points, shot 10 of 17 from the field as Wisconsin (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten) closed out the win by hitting five of its last six shots.

Eugene Omoruyi scored 17 points and had eight rebounds for the Scarlet Knights (7-2, 0-2), who lost to a ranked opponent for the second straight game. Geo Baker and Peter Kiss added 15 and 12 points, respectively, for Rutgers, which shot 13 of 32 in the second half.

Khalil Iverson energized Wisconsin in the second half with a jumper, a steal and layup on consecutive possessions as the Badgers closed within a point, 31-30, with 19:18 remaining.

Reuvers, a 6-foot-10 sophomore forward, hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 18:05 left that gave Wisconsin its first lead of the game at 35-33.

The Scarlet Knights shot 53.8 percent from the field in the first, with Carter contributing 9 points on 4-of-7 shooting as Rutgers built a 31-26 halftime lead.

Caleb McConnell made a layup with 2:28 left in the first half to give Rutgers a nine-point lead at 24-15.

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are good inside and from the perimeter. Sophomore Peter Kiss has a nice scoring touch and isn’t afraid to roam the perimeter to find a good shot.

Shaq Carter is confident under the basket — scoring nine first-half points in the paint.

Leading scorer Geo Baker, who averages 14.5 points per game, has good sense of his mid-range shooting ability.

Wisconsin: The Badgers overcame a second-half deficit for the third straight game.

The Badgers’ sluggish start against Rutgers included no first-half assists and 1-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin plays intrastate rival Marquette on Saturday at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

Rutgers returns home to host Fordham in a non-conference game Saturday.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Three Takeaways from No. 10 Michigan State’s win over No. 18 Iowa

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The Big Ten’s early portion of the conference schedule continued on Monday night as Michigan State hosted Iowa in the evening’s most competitive contest. Although the Hawkeyes have looked like a potentially resurgent bunch this season as the No. 18 team in the country, it was No. 10 Michigan State who dominated this one with a 90-68 win.

Here are three takeaways from this one.

1. Michigan State can still beat solid competition with an off-night from Joshua Langford

When the Spartans want to be in the conversation with the best teams in America, it is usually because junior guard Joshua Langford is playing at a high level. Earlier this season, Langford was our CBT Player of the Week after a dominant stretch against Texas.

Then Langford wasn’t the same against Louisville when Michigan State suffered an upset road loss last week. So monitoring which version of Langford might show up against a top-20 team like Iowa was something to keep an eye on.

Thankfully for Michigan State, Langford wasn’t at his best (14 points, 5-for-13 shooting) but the Spartans still had a blowout win over a likely NCAA tournament team. Relying on physicality, toughness and rugged interior play, Michigan State did a great job of playing through junior big man Nick Ward (26 points, nine rebounds, 10-for-10 shooting) and sophomore reserve big man Xavier Tillman (14 points, eight rebounds) while senior forward Kenny Goins (19 points, 14 rebounds) had a monster outing doing more cleanup work.

The combination of Ward, Goins and Tillman were able to do whatever they wanted thanks to their physicality and a solid effort from junior point guard Cassius Winston (eight points, 12 assists) and his dribble penetration. Michigan State is still going to need Langford to play at a high level if they want to make a Final Four run later this season. But at least they can take comfort in knowing that they can win in other ways if other parts step up.

2. Iowa’s concerns about defense and toughness are back

Iowa’s defense and ability to play tough were the major question marks for them entering this season. Everyone knew the Hawkeyes would be able to put up points. But could Fran McCaffery’s team step up and get more stops to compete with the Big Ten’s best?

Based on Monday night’s results in East Lansing, things aren’t looking very good at the moment for Iowa’s interior defense. While the Hawkeyes deserve some credit for early-season wins over Oregon and UConn in New York, it’s clear that a familiar Big Ten opponent like Michigan State still felt they could exploit the Hawkeyes severely on the interior.

Iowa looked completely helpless trying to stop bruising big men like Ward and Tillman. Goins had more energy than anyone on the glass. The physicality of Michigan State in general seemed to bother the Hawkeyes quite a bit. Iowa only shot 31 percent (21-for-64) from the field as they struggled to get a consistent go-to scorer until the game was well out of reach. Big men like Tyler Cook (15 points) and Luka Garza (seven points, 1-for-10 shooting) were outplayed by their Michigan State counterparts.

Now off to an 0-2 start in conference play, Iowa quickly needs to rectify its defensive issues inside or risk having a lot of trouble competing in the Big Ten this season. The talent is more than there for Iowa to run with any team in the conference but Monday night was not a great sign.

3. Michigan State’s role players are getting more comfortable

We knew that the Spartans would rely on the junior trio of Ward, Winston and Langford for much of their offensive production this season. While that will remain the case for the better part of this season, Michigan State has to be thrilled with how its role players stepped up against Iowa.

Goins had a big double-double while Tillman’s activity nearly gave him a double-double of his own. Since Ward requires potential double-teams whenever he catches the ball, it means Goins will have opportunities on the glass and around the basket.

Even playing without Matt McQuaid, Michigan State earned solid minutes from Kyle Ahrens, as his defensive intensity was helpful in the first half. Freshman Aaron Henry also showed off his athleticism in some minutes off the bench as he provided effort on defense and a memorable fast-break dunk off a pass from Cassius Winston.

Again, Michigan State needs a star like Langford or Ward to step up on most nights to run with the best teams. But if the teams role players continue to step up and play like this then Michigan State’s main trio won’t face nearly as much pressure to produce every single game.

Juwan Morgan’s status remains uncertain for Indiana

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Indiana senior forward Juwan Morgan is battling a leg injury as his current status remains certain. In a radio interview played Monday night that was recorded on Saturday night, Indiana head coach Archie Miller said that Morgan’s injury was a leg injury and not a foot injury as he received an X-ray.

Morgan exited Saturday’s Big Ten win over Northwestern with under four minutes to play as he didn’t return. The Hoosiers have a Big Ten road game at Penn State on Tuesday as Morgan’s injury will be something to monitor for that game and beyond.

Averaging 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season, Morgan is a huge part of Indiana’s expectations as he’s been a key player for them the past few seasons. Without Morgan in the lineup, it would be interesting to see how Indiana changed up its rotation as they could go to a smaller look, or use more of its frontcourt bench in early minutes.

Things don’t get much easier for Indiana after the Penn State game on Tuesday as they play Louisville on Saturday before a Crossroads Classic game in Indianapolis against Butler the following weekend. Indiana will need a healthy Morgan back as soon as possible if they hope to potentially make the NCAA tournament.

Forrest defense, late bucket lifts Florida St past Purdue

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Trent Forrest forced a turnover with 16 seconds left and drove the lane to hit a pull-up jumper with 5.2 seconds remaining as No. 15 Florida State stormed back to beat No. 19 Purdue 73-72 on Wednesday night.

The basket was Forrest’s only one of the second half, but the defensive play was part of a critical sequence as the Seminoles (6-1) held on after Purdue led by eight points with 3:43 left.

Purdue (5-2) didn’t score after holding that eight-point lead. That included a pair of missed free-throw attempts by Carsen Edwards, who led the Boilermakers with 24 points on 7 of 19 shooting.

After Forrest gave Florida State the lead, he stole the ball on Purdue’s final possession to seal the victory.

Ryan Cline added 21 points, including four 3-pointers after halftime, for Purdue. Cline made 7 of 11 3-pointers as Purdue stormed back from a 16-point deficit late in the first half. Cline and Edwards provided the spark in a 14-2 run and the Boilermakers made 7 of 8 3-pointers to open the half.

M.J. Walker scored 13 points to lead the Seminoles. Forest, Terance Mann, P.J. Savoy and David Nichols had nine points apiece. Mann led Florida State with eight rebounds.

Both teams battled foul trouble. Purdue starting forward Grady Eifert sat on the bench with four fouls, didn’t score and played just 16 minutes. Florida State forward Mfiondu Kabengele fouled out, scoring seven points.

Florida State has won three straight games in the ACC-B1G Ten Challenge, knocking off Minnesota, Rutgers and Purdue in consecutive seasons.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: The Boilermakers were playing the first of a rigorous five-game stretch that began with Florida State and includes road games against No. 7 Michigan and No. 17 Texas as well as a home game with No. 24 Maryland and a neutral-site game vs. Notre Dame.

Florida State: The Seminoles finish a tough schedule in which they defeated LSU and UAB but lost to Villanova in the AdvoCare Invitational tournament title game. Now FSU can recharge with four days before the next game.

UP NEXT

Purdue travels to Michigan on Saturday.

Florida State plays host to Troy on Monday.