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Spartans rout North Florida as Louisville blows out Missouri Delaware slumps

EAST LANSING, Michigan, Dec 18, (AP): Tom Izzo’s banged up Michigan State Spartans needed a game like this. Adreian Payne scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half and fifth-ranked Michigan State rolled to a 78-48 victory over North Florida on Tuesday night. The Spartans never trailed despite playing without leading scorer Gary Harris, who has been nursing an ankle injury. Big man Matt Costello (mononucleosis) and guard Travis Trice (foot blister) also missed the game. ‘’I actually was pleased by the way we started out — we’ve had so much adversity here,’’ Izzo said. ‘’It’s been really hard on our team.’’ The Michigan State coach had plenty of depth he could turn to, especially against an overmatched opponent like North Florida. Branden Dawson added 12 points and Denzel Valentine scored 11 for the Spartans, who were ranked No. 1 in the country before a loss to North Carolina on Dec 4.

Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, center, sh ÖMichigan State (9-1) narrowly avoided an upset against Oakland last weekend before routing North Florida. Jalen Nesbitt scored 11 points for the Ospreys (5-7), an Atlantic Sun team that has also lost big to Ohio State and Indiana this season. ‘’Obviously, we’re on the back end of our Big Ten-A Sun challenge,’’ North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll joked. ‘’We’re waiting for our gifts that you guys are going to send us from Ohio State, Indiana and Michigan State.’’ Michigan State led the Ospreys 50-19 at halftime after shooting 71 percent and holding North Florida to 7 of 32 from the field.

Louisville 90, Missouri St 60
In Louisville, Ky, Louisville’s final home game for nearly a month was especially memorable because of its precision in a lopsided victory against Missouri State. Certainly, the sixth-ranked Cardinals have room to improve in many areas as they prepare for four road contests over 23 days including a Dec 28 showdown against in-state rival No. 19 Kentucky in Lexington. For now, the defending national champions look forward to building on its best overall performance of the season. Montrezl Harrell had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Louisville manhandled the Bears 90-60 on Tuesday night. The Cardinals (10-1) took control early and never let up against the Bears (8-2). They combined dominant rebounding and offensive accuracy during a 16-0 first-half run for a 19-4 lead in the first meeting between the schools since 2006.

Harrell was among four Cardinals with at least eight rebounds each, a combination that alone outdid MSU in Louisville’s 51-30 domination of the boards including 20-10 offensively. They also outscored the Bears 46-28 inside and held them to 38 percent shooting to close a 5-0 home stand. Asked if this was Louisville’s best effort to date, Harrell answered, ‘’I’d say so. It was a great win. The first half we really got into it, (and it) got us going.’’ Senior guard Russ Smith added 11 points and eight assists, while freshman Terry Rozier had 11 points and eight rebounds. Forwards Stephan Van Treese and Mangok Mathiang combined for 17 rebounds for Louisville, which shot 34 of 66 from the field (52 percent).

Louisville coach Rick Pitino agreed that it was the best he has seen his team play, adding, ‘’I don’t know what was better, the defense, the offense or the offensive rebounding. It was just awesome in the first half.’’
Jarmar Gulley’s 14 points led the Bears, whose two-game winning streak was thoroughly halted by a Cardinals squad that controlled every facet of the game. MSU led Louisville 4-3 before the Cardinals seized the pace with the big run. The Bears never got closer than 17 after that, spoiling Paul Lusk’s 100th career game as a coach.

Oklahoma 75, Delaware 43
In Stillwater, Okla, seventh-ranked Oklahoma State required patience Tuesday night — on both ends of the floor. The Big 12 Conference’s second-leading offense, averaging 88.4 points per game, faced off with a Delaware State squad that employed the deliberate, shot-clock-eating offense of veteran head coach Greg Jackson. The time-consuming tactics worked for a half, but the athletic Cowboys bolted out of the gate in the second half, forcing their guests to play at a much quicker pace. A 30-16 halftime advantage ballooned to 48-18 four minutes into the second half thanks mainly to full-court defensive pressure. After playing at Jackson’s pace for 20 minutes, OSU head coach Travis Ford decided it was time to play at his pace the rest of the way.

The 75 points in a 75-43 victory were 13 points below his squad’s season average, but Ford knew what to expect from Tuesday’s opponent. The Hornets (2-9) ate much of the shot clock during a first half that saw them shoot 24 percent (6 of 25) and go scoreless for an eight-minute stretch. Yet, a long-range 3-point basket by Casey Walker in the final minute kept Delaware State within 12 points. Since giving up 32 first-half points to Memphis on Dec 1, the Cowboys have held their last three opponents under 20 points in the opening 20 minutes: South Carolina (15), Louisiana Tech (18), and Delaware State on Tuesday.

‘’Coming into this game, we knew that (Delaware State) was going to be running a lot of false motion and run the clock down,’’ Brown said. ‘’We just sat down and talked about it all week in practice, about playing disciplined defense and not letting them get the shots that they want, even lulling us to sleep or anything.’’
The game was played at OSU’s pace in the second half.

Wichita 72, Alabama 67
In Tuscaloosa, Ala, Cleanthony Early and Wichita State never ran out of answers for Alabama. Early scored 26 points and Fred VanVleet made two free throws with 11 seconds left to lift the 11th-ranked Shockers to a 72-67 victory over the Crimson Tide on Tuesday night. Wichita State (11-0) coolly responded to every challenge from the Crimson Tide to extend the program’s best start. ‘’We think that we’re going to win,’’ Shockers coach Gregg Marshall said. ‘’You have to believe that you’re going to win and you’re going to make the plays. You can’t go out there with doubt and just hope. I believe these guys have that in their mind.’’
Early scored nine straight points for Wichita State during one late stretch. Rodney Cooper’s 3-pointer brought Alabama (5-5) to 65-64 with 1:57 remaining. VanVleet responded with a basket and Darius Carter scored on a putback with 37 seconds remaining on a possession when Wichita State rebounded two missed shots.

‘’It was just 50-50 balls,’’ said Releford, who hit two free throws in between those field goals. ‘’They wanted it more down the stretch on that play. Those are plays we’ve got to get down the stretch to get over that hump.’’
Alabama collected a long rebound but Retin Obasohan’s 3-pointer missed with 15 seconds left, forcing the Tide to foul. VanVleet iced the game at the line. Early was 7 of 11 from the field and hit all 11 free throw attempts. The Shockers were 25 of 27 from the line.

Oregon 91, UC Irvine 63
In Eugene, Ore, the return of Dominic Artis has given Oregon a bounty of talented players, a problem coach Dana Altman is happy to have. Artis, last year’s starting point guard, returned from a nine-game suspension to score five points and grab eight rebounds in the No. 13 Ducks’ 91-63 win over UC Irvine on Tuesday night.
The Ducks improved to 10-0 for the first time since 2006-07, when they started 13-0 and went on to win the Pac-10 and advance to the Elite Eight. Altman said the addition of Artis to Oregon’s deep roster is a ‘’great problem’’ to have. ‘’It’s a long season, and you have all kinds of adversity,’’ he added. With the added depth, it’s also easier to extend the defense with presses, Altman said.

When asked if Artis would regain his starting job over Johnathan Loyd, who has played well for the Ducks, Altman said he was more concerned with who would make plays and finish games. ‘’Having a lot of talent never seemed to be a problem on any team I’ve ever played on,’’ said Mike Moser, who had 15 points for Oregon. Artis and teammate Ben Carter were suspended for nine games for selling university-supplied apparel, a violation of NCAA rules. Artis led the Ducks with 3.2 assists per game last year as a freshman.
Joseph Young led Oregon with 18 points on Tuesday.

Cincinnati 44, Pittsburgh 43
In New York, it was impossible not to think of the Big East when Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, two former members of the conference, met in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. The teams didn’t have to stage an old-fashioned defensive battle with plenty of missed shots and key rebounds. But they did.  Titus Rubles’ rebound basket with 4.2 seconds to play gave Cincinnati a 44-43 victory over previously unbeaten Pittsburgh. It was appropriate the winning points came on a missed shot in a game where neither team shot 38 percent from the field. ‘’I thought it was beautiful,’’ Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said when somebody brought up the word ugly to describe the game. ‘’I don’t know what game you were watching,’’ said Justin Jackson, who led the Bearcats with 12 points. The Bearcats (8-2) had lost two straight, the last of which was a 64-47 loss to crosstown rival Xavier on Saturday night.

‘’You’ve got to be able to win these kind of games,’’ Cronin said. ‘’Our guys were so upset at what happened Saturday night we had guys who couldn’t eat. I was a psychiatrist more than a coach the last few days.’’ Most of Jackson’s points came on his seven offensive rebounds. He had nine rebounds total and the Bearcats finished with a 35-27 advantage on the boards, 16-8 on the offensive end. ‘’We came trying to outrebound them and got outrebounded,’’ Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. ‘’We didn’t play well the whole game but we fought back to get the lead and then didn’t do things right when we got there. We knew we had some work to do but I thought our offense was better than that. We didn’t handle their physicality at all.’’

Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati’s leading scorer at 19.3 points per game, finished with nine on 4-of-13 shooting including going 1 of 8 from 3-point range. Talib Zanna had 12 points for the Panthers (10-1), one of 14 Division I teams to start the day without a loss, while Lamar Patterson added 11. Pittsburgh did not have a field goal for a 13:43 stretch in the second half, a drought that ended with a drive by Cameron Wright with 1:07 left that gave the Panthers a 43-42 lead. Patterson missed two free throws with 21 seconds left. Cincinnati worked the clock down and Kilpatrick missed a drive but Rubles got the rebound and scored. He had six points and two rebounds. Wright took a running jumper from just inside midcourt as the buzzer sounded. ‘’I feel like I lost the game for us,’’ Patterson said. Wright jumped to his defense.


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