Spartans outlast Illini 60-53

Illinois Fighting Illini (2004 - 2013)

CHAMPAIGN—When Illinois beat Michigan State just over two weeks ago, the Spartans missed 11 times at the free throw line, a 7 of 18 performance that Spartan coach Tom Izzo said cost them the game.Sunday night in Champaign, the Spartans (19-8, 10-4) got even, hitting 17 of 20 from the line on the way to a 60-53 win.On a rough, physical night, 170-pound guard Travis Trice closed it out, hitting a pair from the line with 39 seconds left to open up a five-point edge that was too much for the Illini (17-10, 7-7) .Illinois coach John Groce was disappointed that on a night when his team shot 28.8 percent and let the Spartans run out to an 11-point lead with under five minutes to play, the Illini still had a chance to win late – if only a shot somewhere had fallen.The best chance came with 44 seconds left in the game. Illinois had closed the gap to 54-51 and Kendrick Nunn found himself alone with the ball at the top of the 3-point arc. He missed. Trice pulled down the rebound and drew the quick foul, headed to line for the free throws that gave the Spartans room to breathe.Trice scored 18 points off the bench after starting ice cold.In his first nine minutes on the floor, he was 0 of 6 shooting, including 0 of 3 from 3-point range. He didn’t have a rebound, an assist, a steal or much of anything else. The rest of the way he was 4 of 7 from the field but, more importantly, went to the line 12 times and hit 10 free throws. He also had five rebounds and four assists.Denzel Valentine led Michigan State’s scorers with 20 points and had nine rebounds. Branden Dawson added 13 points and seven boards.Malcolm Hill led Illinois with 17 points and Rayvonte Rice added 15. The Illini have lost two straight.Nunn, meanwhile, finished with a quiet seven points on 2-of-11 shooting. That included 0 of 6 from 3-point range. He had been averaging 14.3 points in Big Ten play.The game emotionally charged from the opening moments. The teams traded shoves and barbs and Valentine came away from one possession with a bloody lip.Center Matt Costello fouled out with 1:20 to play, leaving the court with a smirk and a shrug.

NOTES—Illinois’ roster roller coaster continued Sunday with reserve guard Mike LaTulip missing the game with a concussion. Sunday was also Illinois’ first game after guard Aaron Cosby’s exit. Cosby left the team last week, Illinois coach John Groce announced. Cosby hadn’t played since early January because of an eye injury and a suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules. Rice was suspended with Cosby in late January but has played in the last three Illini games….The series between Michigan State and Illinois has been a close one. The teams have won 58 games each. Recently, it’s been the visitors who’ve had the edge. The road team has won the last four meetings, including Illinois’ 59-54 win in the last meeting, Feb. 7 at Michigan State…..Illinois travels to Iowa on Wednesday night.

Big second half carries Bulls past ‘new look’ Suns 112-107

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

Pau Gasol had 22 points and 14 rebounds and the Bulls beat the revamped Phoenix Suns 112-107 on Saturday night for their fifth victory in six games.

”The time is now,” Taj Gibson said. ”We’ve got no excuses. We have to make our adjustments now. Hopefully, tonight was one of those sparks.”

Too often, he said, the Bulls have been playing to their opponents’ records. And that has resulted in some surprising losses.In this one, they locked in at the end after it looked as if they might go down for the second time in two nights.Jimmy Butler scored 19 points, Derrick Rose had 16, Mike Dunleavy Jr. 15, and Gibson and Aaron Brooks came on strong in the fourth quarter to finish with 12 points apiece.

”We’re a versatile team,” Gasol said. ”We’re a flexible team that can be successful in different styles. But at the same time, we also have to understand what works best for us.”

P.J. Tucker led Phoenix with 20 points, and Marcus Morris had 17. Eric Bledsoe had 13 points, and so did Brandon Knight in his Suns debut, but Phoenix lost for the seventh time in eight games despite shooting over 53 percent.”The game came kind of fast, just trying to recognize what the Suns are doing – what we’re doing as a group,” said Knight, who was stunned he got dealt from Milwaukee.The Suns cut it to 106-104 on Bledsoe’s layup with 49.8 seconds left following a bad bounce pass by Joakim Noah to a cutting Rose that led to Tucker’s steal. Gasol answered with a driving hook that bumped the lead to four.Markieff Morris then made a 3 that pulled Phoenix to 108-107 with 25.9 seconds remaining. Rose hit two free throws after Marcus Morris got called for a foul with 15.5 seconds left. Following a missed pullup 3 by Bledsoe, Butler made two more foul shots and the Bulls opened a season-long seven-game homestand with the win after falling the previous night at Detroit.Gibson scored 10 points in the fourth, Brooks had eight, and both players keyed a 10-point run early in the quarter that gave the Bulls a 91-85 lead.Gibson hit a jumper and an alley-oop from Noah, and Brooks followed with two 3-pointers.For the Suns, the loss comes on the heels of a major shakeup Thursday at the trade deadline. That was brought on by Goran Dragic insisting he would sign elsewhere in the offseason.Phoenix dealt Dragic and brother Zoran to Miami; Isaiah Thomas to Boston; and Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee to Milwaukee. Besides Knight, the Suns got Marcus Thornton from Boston. They joined the team Saturday after missing Friday night’s loss at Minnesota.Gibson revealed he has been playing with a stage 2 ligament tear in his left hand the past four weeks. He said it is almost healed and that the time off during the All-Star break helped. Gibson also said doctors told him the pain in his left ankle that dates to an injury in last year’s playoffs probably won’t go away until after the season.Suns Coach,and LaGrange native Jeff Hornacek said the Suns were surprised by the bad ending with Dragic, who on Wednesday told reporters that he no longer trusted management and was leaving after the season. ”When he went to All-Star break and sat with his agent or whatever he did, all of a sudden it seemed a different tone,” Hornacek said.

NOTES—The Bulls are 1-5 when opponents shoot 50 percent or better. … Chicago was 12 of 24 on 3-pointers, with Dunleavy and Brooks each hitting three. … The Bulls finished with 17 turnovers – just six in the second half – after committing 20 the previous night. … G Kirk Hinrich was sick and sat out the game…..The Bulls host Milwaukee on Monday night.


ISU beats Ramblers, clinches 5th place(or better)in MVC

Loyola-Chi. Ramblers logo

NORMAL—Daishon Knight scored 21 points to lead Illinois State to a 67-60 victory over Loyola on Saturday night.Illinois State (17-11, 9-7 Missouri Valley) has won back-to-back games and is guaranteed at least at fifth place finish in the conference.Knight was 7 of 12 from the field and made all six of his free-throw attempts. DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell had 14 points and MiKyle McIntosh finished with 10 for the Redbirds, who shot 25 of 48 (52 percent) from the floor.Loyola’s Devon Turk hit a 3 to pull the Ramblers within 51-49 with 4:20 to play. Reggie Lynch answered with a layup, sparking a 9-1 surge to give the Redbirds a 10 point lead with 1:53 left. Knight hit a jumper and the Redbirds made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to seal it.Christian Thomas scored 14 points to lead Loyola (16-12, 6-10).

NU wins third straight-60-39 over Penn State

Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)

EVANSTON—Northwestern coach Chris Collins became impatient with his zone defense when Penn State nailed several early 3-pointers.The young Wildcats stuck with the defense, however, and the commitment paid off as the Nittany Lions shot a season-low 27 percent.Vic Law scored 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Tre Demps added 16 points and Northwestern beat Penn State 60-39 on Saturday afternoon.

”It’s funny. In our man defense, we didn’t force any turnovers,” Collins said. ”In our zone, we’ve been more aggressive. Guys have active hands. We’re getting deflections.”

Alex Olah had 10 points for the Wildcats (13-14, 4-10 Big Ten), who have won three straight after snapping a 10-game losing streak.Geno Thorpe scored 13 points as the only double-digit scorer for Penn State, which scored a season-low point total. The Nittany Lions have lost four straight and six of seven.Penn State’s D.J. Newbill, the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 21.1 points per game, finished with three points on 1-for-6 shooting and nine rebounds. He scored his first points on a 3 with 1:25 remaining to cut the lead to 56-39.The Nittany Lions (15-13, 3-12) also committed 14 turnovers and went 1 for 8 at the free-throw line in a meeting of teams in the bottom third of the Big Ten standings. Penn State’s previous season lows for points and shooting percentage were 46 points and 29 percent against Rutgers on Jan. 3.Northwestern allowed its fewest points in a Big Ten game since the Wildcats beat Penn State 54-39 on Feb. 19, 2005.

”That was a big emphasis when our second unit got put in – we knew we had to talk and find the shooters and close out,” Northwestern guard Dave Sobolewski said.

The Wildcats shot 46 percent from the field. They opened the second half with an 8-2 run for a 36-22 lead. Penn State went on a 7-0 run to pull within four, but Demps and Law hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Olah made two jumpers to extend NU’s lead to 50-36. Demps’ 3 gave the Wildcats a 56-36 lead with 1:41 left.The Wildcats led 28-20 at halftime. Penn State didn’t make a 2-point shot until 3:37 remained before halftime. The Nittany Lions missed their first 13 shots inside the arc – including two free throws – before Thorpe made a layup to cut Northwestern’s lead to 22-17.The Nittany Lions went 8-for-27 from beyond the arc.Penn State: The Wildcats debuted dark gray uniforms while Penn State wore dark blue. Penn State F Payton Banks made a crucial turnover when his pass went directly to Law with no teammate in sight, but he denied NU’s dark gray uniforms had created confusion on the play. Penn State had pulled within 38-34. ”The uniforms didn’t matter,” Banks said. . Nine of the Nittany Lions’ 12 losses in Big Ten action have been decided by single digits. . Penn State has a 28-16 series advantage against Northwestern. The Nittany Lions won the meeting in Evanston last season, 59-32.Alex Olah finished with two blocks to tie the school career record of 136 also held by John Shurna (2009-12). .Forward Scottie Lindsey left the game with a hip injury, Collins said. He scored one point in 10 minutes. . Senior guard JerShon Cobb (foot/knee) has missed four straight games.NU hosts Indiana on Wednesday.

Hoyas hold off Demons 68-63

WASHINGTON—D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 19 points and Georgetown held off DePaul from the free throw line for a 68-63 victory Saturday night.The victory keeps the Hoyas (18-8) in second place in the Big East at 10-5, a half-game ahead of Providence, which plays conference leader Villanova Tuesday. No. 19 Butler fell out of a second-place tie after falling to Xavier, 73-56 Saturday.Smith-Rivera knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 19-19 with 7:43 left in the first half and Jabril Trawick followed with a 3-pointer to give the Hoyas the lead for good, 22-19.Billy Garrett Jr. hit a pair of free throws with :27 left to cut the Georgetown lead to two, 64-62, but could get no closer.Joshua Smith had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Georgetown.Forrest Robinson had 17 points and Jamee Crockett added 13 to lead DePaul (12-16, 6-9).

Hawks collapse in third period against Avs

Tyson Barrie had two goals and an assist, Gabriel Landeskog scored for the fifth straight game, and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Blackhawks 4-1 on Friday night.Colorado used a pair of costly interference penalties on Niklas Hjalmarsson and Patrick Sharpat 10:44 of the third period to win for just the third time in its last eight games. Brad Stuart added his second goal of the season when goaltender Corey Crawford badly misplayed his dump in from center ice, punctuating a frustrating performance for the Blackhawks.Hawk killer Semyon Varlamov had 27 saves for Colorado, and Landeskog also had an assist.Kris Versteeg scored in the second period for the Hawks, who dropped to 2-1-3 on its eight-game homestand. Crawford finished with 26 stops.

Bulls lose another to weak opponent–Pistons win 100-91

Chicago Bulls Logo - Red bull with script above head

AUBURN HILLS—Spencer Dinwiddie spent Thursday afternoon preparing for another weekend in the D-League.A day later, everything had changed.After a pair of trades left the Pistons short-handed, the rookie point guard was thrust into the starting lineup Friday night and outplayed Derrick Rose in Detroit’s 100-91 victory over the Bulls.

”I was getting ready to head to Grand Rapids for the weekend, and then all the crazy stuff started happening at the trade deadline,” Dinwiddie said. ”I was just trying to keep up with who was going where, and all of a sudden they told me that my plans had changed.
”I thought they meant I had gotten traded, too. Luckily, I just didn’t have to go to the D-League.”

The Pistons traded two starters, including point guard D.J. Augustin, to Oklahoma City for Reggie Jackson. But when the three-team deal wasn’t finalized by Friday night, coach Stan Van Gundy was left with only John Lucas III and Dinwiddie at the point.Lucas was the obvious choice, but Van Gundy went with a hunch.

”We had two hard practices the last two days, and everyone on the team noticed how well Spencer was playing,” he said. ”He’s always been a poised player, but he still does too much at a jogging pace. In the last two days, he had really picked up the tempo.”

Dinwiddie made it work, putting up career highs of 12 points and nine assists while Rose only had eight points and two assists in 31 minutes.

”I had butterflies about starting the game, but it was something else to play against Derrick,” Dinwiddie said. ”I’ve always loved his game, and he came back from an ACL tear, just like I’ve had to do, so it meant even more.”

The Pistons dressed only 10 players due to the trades for Jackson and Tayshaun Prince. Jackson was on Detroit’s bench, cheering wildly, but didn’t get clearance in time to play. Prince won’t arrive until Saturday.

”That was a lot of fun,” Jackson said. ”We’ve got big guys who can bang, we’ve got shooters and we’ve got guys hustling all over the floor. I can’t wait to be out there.”

Jimmy Butler had 30 points, and Joakim Noah added 10 points and 14 rebounds. Rose, Mike Dunleavy and Pau Gasol went a combined 6 for 24 from the field.

”I was just missing shots, I guess,” Rose said. ”I didn’t touch the ball for a couple days, and coming back, I just couldn’t catch a rhythm. They were aggressive and I couldn’t find my game. Thank God we’ve got another game tomorrow, because this one hurt.”

Andre Drummond finished with 18 points and 20 rebounds for Detroit, aided greatly by one wild sequence. He grabbed a blocked shot, missed the putback, then tipped the ball four more times before getting it into the basket. He was credited with five offensive rebounds and five field-goal attempts in 5 seconds.

”That was actually a great play,” Van Gundy said. ”Obviously, you’d rather he put it in on the first try, but that showed an incredible amount of effort to keep getting to the ball and keeping it alive until he put it in. You love seeing that from a 21-year-old kid.”

The Bulls led at halftime, but the Pistons started the second half with a 24-7 run that included seven points from Caron Butler and six more from Drummond. Detroit outscored the Bulls 32-15 in the period, giving the Pistons a nine-point edge.The Bulls took advantage of Detroit’s undermanned bench, scoring the first six points of the fourth to pull to 77-74. Van Gundy, however, put his makeshift starting lineup back on the floor and the Pistons were able to hold on from the free throw line.

NOTES—The Bulls had had won 22 of 24 against the Pistons, including an 18-game winning streak that ended in 2013. … Taj Gibson had 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting in the first half, but only tried two shots in 13 second-half minutes….Pistons: Greg Monroe and Caron Butler each scored 20 points. … With the Pistons playing again Sunday afternoon, Jackson will only get a light workout with his new teammates before his first game, while Prince won’t even get that. ”The guys had tomorrow off, but we’re going to bring them in for a short practice just so Reggie can work with them,” Van Gundy said. ”Tayshaun won’t even get here in time for that, so all he will get is a quick walkthrough in the morning.”…..The Bulls host Phoenix on Saturday.

UIC falls to UW-Milwaukee-again.


Another loss in another awful season for the UIC Flames.Steve McWhorter scored 21 points and Akeem Springs added 17 on 7-of-10 shooting to help Wisconsin-Milwaukee beat UIC 71-60 on Thursday night.J.J. Panoske scored 14 and Matt Tiby had 11 points and nine rebounds for UWM (11-16, 6-7 Horizon League).Back-to-back 3-pointers by Jay Harris gave UIC (7-21, 3-10) a 26-24 lead with three minutes left in the first half, but UWM scored the final seven to take a 31-26 lead into halftime and never again trailed.The Flames trailed by as many as 12 in the second half before Harris hit a 3 to make it 61-55 with 2:40 remaining.McWhorter answered with a layup and, after Harris missed a 3 on the other end, a three-point play to spark an 8-0 run which gave the Panthers a 69-55 lead with 46 seconds to play.Harris led UIC with 27 points and Paris Burns added 12 and six assists.

Hawks beat Penguins in a shootout again.

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane kicked it off, and Patrick Sharp finished the job. The star-studded shootout turned into quite a show for the Blackhawks.Sharp scored the decisive goal in the tiebreaker, lifting the Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.Toews and Kane also converted their shootout attempts, helping the Blackhawks improve to 7-2 when the game is tied After overtime, after they went 6-8 in shootout games last season.

”I mean Jonny and Kaner, that’s a 1-2 punch that’s as good as any team in the league, and then Sharpy ends up finishing it,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”So it was necessary today, and it’s been effective for us this year.”

Nick Spaling scored in the third period for Pittsburgh, which had won four of five. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves through overtime, but was unable to stop any of Hawks shootout attempts.Thanks to David Perron and Crosby, the Penguins still had a chance for a big road win before Sharp skated in and beat Fleury into the right side for the victory. Fleury slammed his stick into the post in disgust after the final play.

”It’s almost unfortunate that it wasn’t a playoff game where I guess you could see a real winner and win,” Perron said. ”They got the two points today, but I thought we were satisfied with how we played the whole 65 minutes.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson scored in the second period for the Blackhawks, who also posted a shootout win at Pittsburgh on Jan. 21 in their only other scheduled meeting this season. Corey Crawford finished with 36 stops.The Blackhawks have captured six of a possible eight points through the first half of a season-high eight-game homestand.

”We can’t be giving up any points,” Crawford said. ”Teams below us in our division are starting to play really good hockey. Especially at home, we’ve got to get as many as we can.”

The Hawks jumped in front when Hjalmarsson beat Fleury with a long slap shot early in the second. Following a faceoff in the Pittsburgh zone, Brandon Saad played the puck back to Hjalmarsson to set up the second goal of the season for the steady defenseman.The Penguins responded in the third period. Beau Bennett got free for a shot that was stopped by Crawford, but Spaling sent the rebound into the upper left corner for his ninth of the season.Perron was stopped by Crawford on a prime opportunity midway through overtime, and Fleury made a nice save on Marian Hossa to help the send the game to the shootout.

”That’s two games we’ve played against this team and we’ve played well defensively,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Johnston said. ”We had our scoring chances and we didn’t convert. I thought our power play looked good, too.”

Crosby was shut out after he had two goals in Thursday night’s 5-4 shootout victory at Ottawa. The captain also was a part of a strange sequence at the end of the second period.Crosby was sent off for tripping Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya, drawing loud cheers from the crowd of 22,169. But replays showed Oduya went down on his own and the officials conferred before rescinding the penalty, allowing Crosby to leave the box.The All-Star center was whistled for tripping Toews in the third, leading to more cheers from the sellout crowd. But the Penguins killed off the ensuing power play.

NOTES—Penguins D Christian Ehrhoff (concussion protocol) skated Sunday morning. He was injured Jan. 28 at Washington and has missed the last eight games. … Blackhawks F Ben Smith returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for Friday night’s win over New Jersey for the first time this season. Michal Rozsival also played after missing the game against the Devils with an upper body injury. … Bennett finished with a game-high nine shots. … Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin attended the game. … Former Blackhawks defenseman Steve Montador was found unconscious in his home early Sunday morning and was later pronounced dead, according to police in Canada. Montador, 35, made his NHL debut in 2001 with Calgary and played for six teams in parts of 10 seasons.

East ourscores West 163-158 in joke of NBA All-Star Game

NEW YORK—This was an Joke of an NBA All-Star game on epic proportions. This was awful!! Mixing Broadway and basketball, this NBA All-Star Game was a West Side Story.Russell Westbrook scored 41 points, one shy of the All-Star record, and the Western Conference beat the East 163-158 on Sunday night in the highest-scoring All-Star Game ever.The Oklahoma City speedster had a record 27 points by halftime and closed out the scoring with two free throws, falling one point shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s 42 points in the 1962 game. He was voted the game’s MVP at Madison Square Garden.The NBA’s return to New York showed off everything about the Big Apple, and by the time Frank Sinatra’s ”New York, New York” played after the game, it was clear Westbrook was king of the hill.

”It’s amazing. It’s a blessing to be here in New York City,” Westbrook said during the MVP ceremony.

James Harden added 29 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the West, which built a 20-point lead in the first half and then pulled away after it was tied at 148 with a little more than 4 minutes remaining.The combined 321 points surpassed the 318 scored last season, and the 48 3-pointers smashed last year’s record of 30.LeBron James finished with 30 points, but couldn’t lead the East to the victory in his favorite NBA arena.

”Don’t get no better, man. You play in the Garden in front of these fans,” James said.

Harden’s 3-pointer snapped the final tie with 4:02 to play and Chris Paul followed with consecutive baskets. Westbrook’s fifth 3-pointer put it away at 158-149 with 2:22 to go.

”We just talk about having fun all game long and then at a certain point in the fourth quarter it’s time to win,” Paul said.

Atlanta’s Kyle Korver made seven 3-pointers and scored 21 points for the East, while Washington’s John Wall had 19.But right from the start, the players were sharing the stage.Christina Aguilera appeared from behind a giant big apple, and belted out some New York-inspired numbers to start the show, joined by the Rockettes.Entertainment’s elite were all over the arena, with players hobnobbing with Jay-Z and Floyd Mayweather near their courtside seats at halftime. But the biggest roar came for a star from another sport – politics.President Bill Clinton, who had a big night of his own at Madison Square Garden when he was nominated here during the 1992 Democratic National Convention, got a pair of loud ovations when he was shown during Queen Latifah’s performance of the national anthem.Players were quizzed during comedic skits on New York talk and terms, and fuhgeddaboudit, the Bulls Pau Gasol had no idea what a stoop was. (Stephen Curry knew it was a porch in the front of a building).Pau won the jump ball against little brother Marc to begin the first All-Star Game featuring two sibling starters, but for a while it looked as if that would be the East’s only win of the night.The West shot out to a 20-point lead, but the East chipped away and cut it to 83-82 before pop star Ariana Grande’s halftime performance.It was New York’s first time hosting the weekend since 1998 and a rare journey to the north for the NBA, which has preferred to stage the festivities in the warmth of the South and West.Even some of the NBA’s most fashionable had to choose bundling up over dressing up, a concession to the frigid temperatures they faced during the weekend. But next year might be worse, when the game heads north of the border to Toronto.Carmelo Anthony struggled to 14 points on 6-of-20 shooting for the East in what may have been his final game of the season. The Knicks star has been battling a sore knee for much of the season and may opt for surgery with the team owning the NBA’s worst record.But even the Knicks’ misery couldn’t dampen the spirts for this basketball-rich city. Players on the floor were surrounded by some of New York’s hoops royalty, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving. There was even time to celebrate the Knicks: Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Phil Jackson, Earl Monroe and Bernard King were honored during a break in the action.Tim Duncan had one basket in his 15th All-Star Game, second only to Abdul-Jabbar’s 18. Duncan’s first was here in 1998, as was Kobe Bryant’s.Bryant had to sit out along with Anthony Davis and Blake Griffin, leaving the West without three elected starters. But they had more than enough talent left, not surprising in another season where the West is the more powerful conference from top to bottom.East coach Mike Budenholzer played his four Atlanta Hawks together in the first quarter, Al Horford joining Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap and Korver.

”I thought we would all be out there together quite a bit. We were kind of hand signaling to run a few plays, but you weren’t really running plays,” Korver said. ”It was just up and down. But it was great for the Hawks and for the city of Atlanta. It was really cool.”

Gasol(Pau)had 10 points and 12 rebounds, and Bulls teammate Jimmy Butler added 6 points and 2 steals in limited pay.