Keith Appling bounced back in time to give No. 10 Michigan State a shot to share the Big Ten title. Appling scored 14 of his 19 points in...
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Keith Appling bounced back in time to give No. 10 Michigan State a shot to share the Big Ten title.
Appling scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to help the Spartans beat No. 22 Wisconsin 58-43 on Thursday night and stay in the race for a piece of the conference championship.
“The only sad part for me is we had a chance to have destiny in our hands,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after his team snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Spartans (23-7, 12-5) moved into a three-way tie for second with Michigan and Ohio State. The trio trails conference-leading Indiana with one game left in the regular season.
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The Hoosiers can claim the Big Ten title outright with a win Sunday in Ann Arbor against the Wolverines. If they lose, Michigan would earn a piece of the title and the Spartans and Buckeyes would have an opportunity to make it a four-way tie.
The Spartans close the regular season Sunday night at home against Northwestern after Ohio State hosts Illinois and the Wolverines face Indiana.
Izzo said his mentor, former Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote, wouldn’t want him to root for rival Michigan to win in any circumstance.
“I’m going to pull for Michigan State,” Izzo said. “And, I’m going to pull for (senior) Derrick Nix.”
The Badgers (20-10, 11-6) shot 29.4 percent while falling to fifth place after Purdue handed them their most lopsided setback at home in more than seven years. Coach Bo Ryan, though, insisted he wasn’t disappointed his team missed out on a chance to play for part of the championship.
“With this team and what they’ve done, I’m not trading them,” Ryan said. “These guys have been working extremely hard.”
Michigan State broke open a close slugfest with a 16-0 run early in the second half, taking a 21-point lead on Appling’s three-point play.
The junior point guard had been held to single digits in each of the last three games, but he bounced back in a big way. Appling scored more points against the Badgers than he scored in the previous three games combined.
“Seeing Keith smile, that made my day,” Izzo said.
The coach also was delighted when the Spartans showed some grit against the hard-nosed Badgers.
In Las Vegas, Anthony Ireland scored 16 points, including two big free throws late in overtime, and Loyola Marymount continued its surprising tournament run with a 61-60 win over San Francisco. Taylor Walker’s free throw gave the Lions (10-22) a 61-57 lead with nine seconds left. Loyola Marymount will face No. 4 seed Santa Clara in the quarterfinals Friday.
San Francisco’s Cole Dickerson from Federal Way High School had 23 points and 18 rebounds for the No. 5 seed Dons (14-16), and his tip-in with nine seconds left sent the game to overtime.
In Las Vegas, Loyola Marymount beat San Francisco 75-63 and will play Brigham Young in the quarterfinals Friday. Portland beat Santa Clara 70-64 and will play Saint Mary’s.
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