Big second half helps NU beat Minnesota again.

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MINNEAPOLIS—The storm in Minnesota that dropped more than a foot of snow on campus kept Northwestern from traveling the night before the game.The well-rested Wildcats arrived about eight hours before tipoff and wore down the banged-up Gophers with a seasoned, spirited rally.Bryant McIntosh and Vic Law scored 18 points apiece for Northwestern, leading the comeback Tuesday from a 10-point deficit to beat reeling Minnesota 77-69.

”Everyone knows the struggles we’ve had throughout the year to try to find ourselves as a team. We feel like in the last two weeks we’re starting to play good basketball,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. ”This was a big game.”

Scottie Lindsey added 15 points, Dererk Pardon pitched in 10 points and eight rebounds and Law pulled down 13 rebounds himself for the Wildcats (13-9, 4-5 Big Ten), who won their second straight game after losing five of their previous seven contests.

”We’ve just got to continue to play with pace, with pop, and play together,” McIntosh said, ”and I think we can be a really good team.”

Nate Mason had 25 points and nine assists for the Gophers (14-9, 3-7), who lost for the sixth time in their last seven games. Amir Coffey scored 15 points on 7-for-13 shooting, but he had five fouls and five turnovers in another collapse down the stretch by the team’s half-court offense and collective belief.

”We’re obviously tired and undermanned,” coach Richard Pitino said.

Both of these teams, fresh from NCAA Tournament appearances that were the first in four years for the Gophers and the first ever for the Wildcats, started their schedule with Big Ten title aspirations and preseason rankings in the Associated Press poll. Northwestern fell out of the Top 25 in three weeks, despite four returning starters. Minnesota dropped from the rankings three weeks after that, with a lack of depth exposed.This contest certainly qualified as a swing game in the muddled middle of the Big Ten, with Northwestern’s 83-60 victory over Minnesota at home the difference entering the evening.After Mason beat the shot-clock buzzer with less than 13 minutes left to give Minnesota a 52-47 lead, the Northwestern rally ratcheted up. Aaron Falzon stole the ball from a double-teamed Jordan Murphy down low and fed Lindsey for a fast-break layup to pull the Wildcats within 52-51, the closest they’d come since 16-15.On the first of three straight baskets by McIntosh, the senior point guard who’s the all-time program leader in assists, the Wildcats retook the lead at 60-59 with 7:37 left and never lost it again. Coffey’s dunk with 4:12 remaining brought the Gophers within 66-63, but that was the last time they made it a one-possession game.The Gophers shot just 9 for 29 from the field in the second half, including 3 for 14 from 3-point range.

”You always feel like you’re stealing a game when you win on the road,” Collins said.

The Wildcats came through in the clutch in a difficult place to play, their experience and confidence complementing a cranked-up second half defense to take over down the stretch.

Hawks goal drought continues as Bolts win 2-0

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 40 saves in his NHL-best seventh shutout, Chris Kunitz scored a short-handed goal in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Blackhawks 2-0 on Monday night.Yanni Gourde also scored as Tampa Bay stopped a season-high three-game slide and leapfrogged idle Vegas for the best record in the NHL. The Lightning, who lost to the Blackhawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, improved to 11-0-2 against the Hawks in their last 13 regular-season meetings.The Hawks controlled most of the second period, but one little lapse proved costly. With Tampa Bay defenseman Mikhail Sergachev serving a double minor for high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct, Jake Dotchin shot the puck wide of the net and Kunitz found it before anyone else, taking it off the backboard and banking it in off the right skate of goaltender Jeff Glass.Kunitz’s sixth goal of the season was enough for Vasilevskiy, who got his 28th win of the season. Patrick Kane shot the puck off the right post during a power play in the first and Anthony Duclair was stopped by Vasilevskiy on a breakaway 6:41 into the third.Gourde put the game away when he beat Glass with a slap shot low on the goaltender’s glove side with 1:34 left. It was Gourde’s 15th goal of the season.Tampa Bay (32-12-3) improved to 1-1 on an eight-game trip overlapping the All-Star festivities at its home arena. It’s the longest road trip in the NHL this season.Glass made 29 saves, but the last-place Blackhawks (22-19-6) lost for the fourth time in five games. It was a much better performance than its previous two games, when the Hawks were outscored 11-3 in losses to Detroit and the New York Islanders, but the Blackhawks are running out of time in the competitive Central Division.

NOTES—Blackhawks C Artem Anisimov was activated from injured reserve after missing 10 straight games with an injury. The 29-year-old Anisimov has 13 goals, including six game-winners, and five assists in 37 games this season…..The Blackhawks host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.Andrei Vasilevskiy was terrific, Chris Kunitz made a clutch play and Tampa Bay’s penalty killers had a big night.The Lightning followed a familiar formula back to the top of the NHL.Vasilevskiy made 40 saves in his league-best seventh shutout and Kunitz scored a short-handed goal in the second period, leading Tampa Bay to a 2-0 victory over the sliding Blackhawks on Monday.Yanni Gourde also scored as Tampa Bay stopped a season-high three-game skid and leapfrogged idle Vegas for the best record in the NHL. The Lightning, who lost to the Hawks in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, improved to 11-0-2 against the Blackhawks in their last 13 regular-season meetings.The Blackhawks controlled most of the second period, but one little lapse proved costly. With Tampa Bay defenseman Mikhail Sergachev serving a double minor for high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct, Jake Dotchin shot the puck wide of the net and Kunitz found it before anyone else, taking it off the backboard and banking it in off the right skate of goaltender Jeff Glass.

Cousins and Pelicans outlast Bulls in 2OT.

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NEW ORLEANS—DeMarcus Cousins considered the most impressive statistical night of his career and only half-jokingly asserted that he was most proud of the stamina he needed to log a career high of more than 51 minutes on the court.Cousins had 44 points, 24 rebounds and 10 assists, Anthony Davis scored 34, and the All-Star pair led a 17-point New Orleans comeback in the final five minutes of regulation before the Pelicans pulled out a 132-128 victory over the Bulls in double overtime Monday night.

”My strength coach had the nerve to ask me, do I want to lift after this game? I almost lost it. If I had some energy, we would have fought,” Cousins said. ”I’m just glad it’s over. Seriously. I think (the Bulls) feel the same way, too.”

In between several moments of brilliance in the second overtime, Cousins’ body language suggested he could barely stand. His feet hardly left the floor on a 3-pointer that rolled around the rim and in. He also managed to hit a turnaround jumper and calmly made two free throws to ice the game with eight seconds left.

Davis, who fouled out in the first overtime, called Cousins’ performance ”legendary,” adding that his fellow big man – more than anyone – earned the day off from practice the Pelicans were given on Tuesday.When the game was finally over, an excited Davis jumped on Cousins and wrapped his arms around his neck.

”He played his heart out,” Davis said.

Cousins became the first NBA player since Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972 to have as many as 40 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists in a game, Few others have done it.Cousins’ assists included alley-oop lobs to Davis and a couple of long passes to him for breakaway baskets.

”You dream about moments like that as a kid – a game coming down to the line and just making big plays down the stretch,” Cousins said. ”I think we just willed our way through this game.”

And yet Cousins’ heroics nearly never happened. Even after the Pelicans’ stunning 23-4 run in the last five minutes of regulation gave them a 114-112 lead on Davis’ free throws with 3.2 seconds left, Justin Holiday was fouled by Darius Miller attempting a 3-pointer in the final second of the period.Holiday’s first two free throws looked perfect. His last, for the win, rattled out.

”It wasn’t meant to happen,” Holiday said. ”I had the opportunity. I don’t miss free throws. Obviously after the game we can talk about things we did wrong, but when we get an opportunity like that, that’s what is on my mind right now.”

After Holiday had swished the second free throw, Davis recalled, ”I looked at DeMarcus and we both just shook our head with sad faces, like, `We had this one.’

”And then he missed, and it was, `All right. Let’s go get it.”’

Jerian Grant had 22 points and 13 assists, and Robin Lopez also scored 22 for the Bulls, who appeared well on their way to their fifth victory in six games when they opened the fourth quarter with a 23-5 run to take their largest lead at 104-86.

”A lot of good things and obviously we had a chance to win it at the end,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. ”A lot of things we can learn as well and grow from.”

Lauri Markkanen had 14 points and 17 rebounds. Zach LaVine had 19 points, Holiday 15 and Nikola Mirotic 14. … Came in having made at least 10 3s in 10 straight games and in 32 games total this season, but went 8 of 31 from deep in New Orleans. … Chicago shot 48.9 percent (45 of 92) overall….Former Bull E’Twaun Moore scored 15 points, including a 3 in the second overtime to help the Pelicans win for the fifth time in six games. …. Often guarded by his brother, Jrue Holiday had one of his lowest recent scoring totals, with 12 points, after averaging 25.6 points in his previous five games. … Miller scored 10 points. … Won despite shooting only 41.6 percent (47 of 113).

Spartans keep Illini win-less in Big Ten play.

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CHAMPAIGN—Miles Bridges helped No. 6 Michigan State overcome a game so sloppy, coach Tom Izzo called it ”ridiculous.”.Bridges scored 31 points, Jaren Jackson Jr. had 21 points and 11 rebounds and the Spartans beat Illinois 87-74 on Monday night despite committing 25 turnovers.It was the most giveaways for Michigan State (18-3, 6-2 Big Ten) since November of 2005 against Arizona, when they had 27 in an overtime win. This was the Spartans’ third straight game with 20 or more turnovers, and they’ve won each game by double digits.

”It was a bit ridiculous what we did out there tonight,” Izzo said.

Michigan State shot 68.2 percent, which set a record at State Farm Center for an opponent’s shooting percentage. Illinois shot 43.1 percent.Kipper Nichols led Illinois (10-11, 0-8) with a career-high 27 points. Trent Frazier and Leron Black added 13 and 12, respectively.Michigan State turned the ball over 25 times. It was the third straight game in which the Spartans gave it away more than 20 times and still won by double digits.

Michigan State out-rebounded Illinois 37-15. The Illini didn’t record their first rebound until nearly 10 minutes into the game.

”That was a war out there,” Izzo said. ”We had the most turnovers in a decade and our best field goal percentage in a long time. I know it doesn’t add up, but somehow it did for us tonight.”

Illinois coach Brad Underwood, whose team has lost six in a row – all Big Ten games – managed to sound optimistic after his team’s effort against an elite team.It’s also the first time ever that the Illini started Big Ten Play 0-8.

”I liked the team I coached out there tonight,” he said. ”Losing is unacceptable, but we’re young and everything is a growing process for us. Baby steps. Continuing to learn. Tonight, I think we ran our best offense of the year, against a team that is ranked first or second in the nation in just about every defensive category.”

Jackson took an elbow to the side of the head late in the first half while fighting for the ball. He was helped off the court and taken to the locker room, but returned to start the second half.

”Jaren is tough,” Izzo said. ”I think he hit his head, maybe on the floor, and it looked bad for a minute. But when we came off the court at the half, he was waiting for us in the tunnel, ready to go.”

Illinois, playing tight zone defense, was able to stick around in the first half despite Michigan State’s height advantage.With the game close at the beginning of the second half, Illinois went cold, going 1 of 9 from the field. Michigan led by five at the half but jumped to a 48-36 lead after less than five minutes. The game was never close after that.Bridges was a dunking machine, but his one-handed tip-dunk midway through the second half even left his coach impressed.Illinois remains at home against Indiana on Wednesday and Rutgers on Jan. 30.

Bad third quarter does in Bulls against Golden State

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Klay Thompson scored 38 points, Stephen Curry added 30 and the Golden State Warriors beat the Bulls 119-112 on Wednesday night for their franchise record-tying 14th straight road win.

”It was an old-school Splash Brother game,” coach Steve Kerr said.

The ”Splash Brothers” nickname for Thompson and Curry has faded in prominence since Durant joined the duo before last season, but the sharpshooting guards can still put on a show. Thompson was 7 for 13 from 3-point range and Curry was 6 for 11 from behind the arc; no other player made a 3 for the Warriors.

”When they got it going like that, you just play your role and know your place, man,” Durant said.

Durant had 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as Golden State moved into a tie for the third-longest road winning streak in a season in NBA history. The Los Angeles Lakers hold the record with 16 straight road wins during the 1971-72 season.Next up for the NBA-leading Warriors (37-9) is a prime-time showdown with Houston on Saturday in the finale of a five-game trip.

”It’s going to be a very tough game Saturday, probably the toughest of the trip,” Thompson said, ”and if we could go undefeated on this road trip that would be incredible.”

Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points for the Bulls, who dropped to 14-8 since its 3-20 start. Robin Lopez scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half, and Kris Dunn also had 16.

”We played three quarters of really good basketball, but you take one off against a team like this, you’re not going to win,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. Duh!

The Warriors played without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala due to injuries, and Jordan Bell sprained his left ankle when he challenged Lopez’s dunk on the Bulls’ first possession. Bell stayed down for a while and then was helped to his feet. He tried to put pressure on his leg and grimaced before he opted for a wheelchair ride off the court.The 23-year-old Bell was selected by the Bulls in the second round of the June draft and then dealt to the Warriors for financial considerations. X-rays were negative, but he was using crutches and a walking boot after the win and will have an MRI on Thursday.

”It was definitely way worse than a normal sprain,” Bell said. ”Like I said, I thought I broke it.”

Thompson and Curry led the way as Golden State outscored the Home team 32-12 in the third quarter to open a 95-78 lead. Curry made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 9:23 left in the period, sparking a 19-0 run for the Warriors.The Bulls made a late charge, closing to 112-107 on Dunn’s fast-break dunk with 2:55 left. Dunn landed awkwardly on the play and his face slammed into the floor. He was being evaluated for a possible concussion after the loss.The NBA champion Warriors responded with Thompson’s driving layup and a three-point play for Durant. Thompson also made two foul shots with 17.4 seconds left to help Golden State secure the win.Bulls guard Zach LaVine had five points on 2-for-12 shooting in his third game of the season after recovering from left knee surgery. He has been on a minutes restriction, but the plan is to re-evaluate the situation at this point for possible extended action.

Slumping Cats come up short against OSU

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ROSEMONT—Chris Holtmann figured an off-night from Keita Bates-Diop was inevitable. So, too, is the Ohio State coach’s first Big Ten loss.But it did not coincide with his star player’s first subpar performance in weeks.Holtmann became the first coach in 95 years to win his first seven Big Ten games as No. 22 Ohio State defeated Northwestern 71-65 on Wednesday night. Holtmann is the third Big Ten coach to win his first seven conference games, joining Wisconsin’s Walter Meanwell (1911-12) and Iowa’s Sam Barry (1922-23). Holtmann replaced Thad Matta, the program’s all-time wins leader, this season.

”It really does not mean anything,” Holtmann said. ”I think that’s a reflection on the players as much as anything. We’ve got a group that really likes each other. And it’s easy to like each other when you’re on the streak that we’re on right now, but I sensed that they even liked each other when we had some rough spots earlier in the year.”

C.J. Jackson had 12 points and eight assists, Micah Potter scored 13 points off the bench and Bates-Diop, the Big Ten’s leading scorer and reigning two-time player of the week, had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes (16-4, 7-0), who won their sixth straight overall.Vic Law scored 14 points and Scottie Lindsey had 13 for Northwestern (11-9, 2-5) as the Wildcats suffered their second straight double-digit loss.Picked to finish 11th in the Big Ten in a preseason media poll, the Buckeyes have been the story of the conference so far this season. Coming off successive routs of then-No. 1 Michigan State, Maryland and Rutgers, Ohio State led Northwestern by as many as 15 in the second half before holding off a late Wildcats charge.Northwestern got within three at 68-65 on a 3-pointer by Lindsey with 43 seconds left, but Jackson sealed the victory from the foul line.

”Obviously I’m disappointed in the result of the game, but I was actually very proud of my team tonight,” NU coach Chris Collins said. ”I loved our fight. If you would have said to me we were going to hold them to 70 points and hold Keita to 10 points, I would have probably lived with that result.”

Ohio State: While winning has become routine for the Buckeyes, pulling out close games has not. This was the smallest margin of Ohio State’s 16 victories, 14 of which were by double digits.

”We didn’t always play our best, but man, this is one we’ll feel good about,” Holtmann said. ”You’re playing on a team’s home court, they’re probably going to make shots, they’re probably going to make a run.”

With four starters back from the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Wildcats have fallen far short of expectations and are going to have turn things around in a hurry to make a case for another invitation to the dance.

ISU grabs WAR ON 74 from Bradley


Ramblers top Salukis for 4th straight win

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Donte Ingram hit five 3-pointers and scored 25 points and Loyola won for the fourth straight time and fifth time in six games by shooting its way past Southern Illinois, 79-65 in a Missouri Valley Conference battle Wednesday night.The win streak is the Ramblers’ longest in conference play since a six-game string in 2006-07 when the team was in the Horizon League.Ingram hit two free throws with :30 remaining and Clayton Custer hit a layup with :01 left to send Loyola into intermission with a 35-23 advantage. LU maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way, extending it to as many as 18 points down the stretch.Cameron Krutwig scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds for Loyola (15-4, 5-2). Custer added 12 points, four assists and three steals.Sean Lloyd Jr. finished with 21 points to lead SIU (11-9, 3-4). Tyler Smithpeters added 12 points.

Marquette beats DePaul in Demons last visit to Bradley Center


MILWAUKEE—Sam Hauser was 5 of 10 from 3-point range and scored 19 points on Monday night to help Marquette beat DePaul 70-52.Andrew Rowsey reached 2,000 career points on his first free throw of the night and finished with 11 points, nine assists and five steals for the Golden Eagles (13-6, 4-3 Big East). Rowsey played his first two seasons for UNC Asheville and is a senior at Marquette. Theo John also scored 11.Marquette built a 41-21 lead at halftime after the Blue Demons (8-10, 1-5) made just 6 of 33 (18 percent) from the field. DePaul finished the game 20 of 67 (29.9 percent).The Eagles extended the lead to their largest of the game at 61-31 before DePaul had a 16-2 run to cut the deficit down to 16.Brandon Cyrus led DePaul with 15 points and Max Strus added 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Bulls end Heat’s 7 game winning streak 119-111.

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Zach LaVine is making the most of his limited minutes.The guard scored 18 points in his second game with the Bulls, who ended the Miami Heat’s seven-game winning streak with a 119-111 victory Monday.”I’m still a little tired, a little winded, but I feel good,” LaVine said. ”It goes by really quick, I look up and like, man it’s already seven minutes, but I try to make the most of the 20 minutes, and I think I’m doing a good job so far.”

Justin Holiday made a career-best seven 3s and scored 25 points for the Bulls, who have won three straight and 14 of their last 21.LaVine tore an ACL last season with Minnesota and was traded in a package for Jimmy Butler in the offseason. He scored 14 points in his Bulls debut Saturday against Detroit.The Bulls are limiting LaVine to 20 minutes per game in his first week back. He scored 13 points in 12 minutes in the first half, and his four-point play with 0.9 seconds left before the break put the Bulls ahead 55-48 after a 14-2 run.

”That was pretty disgusting basketball,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

LaVine also had five rebounds, five assists and two steals.

”He came with a lot of confidence shooting, and he’s just so fast out there,” Nikola Mirotic said.

The Bulls hit 16 of 39 3-pointers (41 percent), their eighth straight game with at least 10 3-pointers, a franchise record.

”We weren’t communicating very well,” Heat guard Josh Richardson said. ”We knew the game plan coming in, we were going to have to make them drive it, or make thing tough on them from the 3-point line. We just didn’t do that.”

Holiday had four 3-pointers in the third quarter, including one that gave the Bulls its first of two 19-point leads in the third, 82-63.Mirotic scored all 18 of his points in the fourth quarter for the Bulls, holding off the Heat, who closed to a 105-100 deficit with 3:39 to play on James Johnson’s 3-pointer.Holiday made a jump shot and two free throws, and rookie Lauri Markkanen made a 3-pointer down the stretch. Markkanen had 17 points and nine rebounds.