Weekend Review: A Big Battle in Michigan, Arizona and San Diego State Struggle
Michigan at Michigan State
Even with Michigan State missing Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson, people expected this to be a great game, and both teams delivered. Michigan took control in the last few minutes to wrap up an 80-75 win over the Spartans. Nik Stauskas continued his hot play, finishing with 19 points, including 5 of 6 from three-point range, and 4 assists. Freshman Derrick Walton started to come into his own, scoring 19 points, including a transition lay-up and one, which seemed to turn the tide toward the Wolverines. Caris LeVert overcame some early shaky shooting to finish with 17 points. Glenn Robinson III struggled, shooting only 2 of 8 from the field and grabbing only 1 rebound. It was three-point shooting which lifted the Wolverines, hitting 11 of 19 compared to just 11 of 31 from two-point range.
Michigan State was led by Gary Harris, who torched numerous Michigan defenders for 27 points. Keith Appling did a strong job running the Spartans’ offense, tallying 10 assists to go with his 10 points. Freshman guard Alvin Ellis III stepped up with two starters out, scoring 12 points on 4 of 4 from the field. Matt Costello did an admirable job against the Michigan bigs, but the loss of Payne and Dawson made what would usually be a Michigan State rebounding advantage to even. Overall, it was a well-played game, with both teams shooting around 45% and limiting the turnovers.
San Diego State at Utah
#7 San Diego State has had a fairly easy time in the Mountain West, but heading to Utah State is always a dangerous proposition for any team, and the Aztecs were lucky to escape with a 74-69 win in overtime Saturday. Xavier Thames continued to play like one of the top guards in the country, taking over the game in overtime and finishing with 31 points, 4 assists and 3 steals. Josh Davis battled well against the physical Utah State frontline, grabbing 12 rebounds, while Skylar Spencer added 3 blocked shots. It was an ugly shooting game for the Aztecs, shooting just 42% overall and 27% from behind the arc, though only turning the ball over 6 times kept them close.
Utah State was led by Spencer Butterfield whose three-pointer sent the game into overtime. Butterfield scored 19 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, while backcourt mate Preston Medlin added 12 points and 6 assists. TeNale Roland didn’t score much, but his 9 assists helped his teammates get some easy buckets. Overall, the Aggies had 21 assists to the Aztec’s 9. Freshman Jalen Moore looks like he will have a good career in Logan, scoring 16 points on 8 of 11 from the floor and grabbing 7 rebounds. Utah State is only 2-5 in the Mountain West, but no one will want to play them come conference tournament time.
Utah at Arizona
Arizona has been cruising along since becoming the #1 team in the country, but a growing Utah team gave them a battle for 30 minutes last night, before the Wildcats finally pulled away for a 65-56 win. Nick Johnson has been one of the underappreciated stars of college basketball this year, but he turned the game around in a matter of minutes last night with shooting, passing, and defense. Johnson finished with 22 points, and helped control the team while point guard TJ McConnell battled through a shaky game. McConnell’s 4 assist, 4 turnover game was one of his worst this year. Freshmen Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and sophomore Brandon Ashley dominated the offensive glass, combining for 16 offensive rebounds, which helped the Wildcats overcome a 40% shooting day
Utah junior Delon Wright used his ability to get into the lane to score 19 points, including 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Wright also added 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Sophomore Jordan Loveridge struggled some with the Arizona frontline’s size, but still came away with 12 hard-earned points. Dallin Bachynski, brother of Arizona State center Jordan, finished with 10 rebounds and 4 blocks.