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Michigan State gives Izzo his 400th win

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Associated Press
January 26, 2012
— Aaron Craft took a dribble or two past midcourt and launched an alley-oop pass toward teammate Sam Thompson, who was approaching the rim from the left wing.

Thompson never got the pass: It went straight in from 35 feet.


It was that kind of night for No. 4 Ohio State, which got 20 points and 13 rebounds from Jared Sullinger and took advantage of Penn State’s slow start to roll to a 78-54 victory on Wednesday.


“That was executed well,” coach Thad Matta joked of the backdoor pass that hit nothing but net.


Craft, who finished with 11 points, could only laugh about his unintentional 3-pointer.


“Well, I got pretty lucky,” he said. “For the record, I would much rather that Sam catch it and dunk it. People get more excited about that. But I’ll take anything I can get. It was awesome.”


With a straight face, Thompson said it was a set play.


“Everything kind of went according to plan; that was just how we drew it up,” he said. “I was going to streak down the left side and Craft was going to throw it up from about halfcourt and it was just going to go in. I was kind of like a decoy.”


That was just an example of how easily things went for the Buckeyes (18-3, 6-2 Big Ten), who won their third in a row and fifth in six games while getting ready for Sunday’s big home showdown with No. 20 Michigan. The Wolverines, Ohio State and Michigan State came into the week tied for the top spot in the Big Ten.


“It was a great tuneup,” Sullinger said. “We’ve got Michigan coming up next.”


The Nittany Lions paid tribute to Joe Paterno by wearing black bands on their jerseys. Paterno, Penn State’s football coach for 46 years and the winner of a major-college record 409 games, died Sunday at age 85. A public viewing and funeral was held earlier on Wednesday.


Big Ten scoring leader Tim Frazier had 16 points and Jermaine Marshall 14 for Penn State (10-12, 2-7).


-- Michigan State 68, Minnesota 52—Earlier in the week, Tom Izzo downplayed what his 400th victory would mean to him.


When the Michigan State coach reached the milestone, though, he was overcome with emotion.


Draymond Green had 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists to help the 10th-ranked Spartans beat visiting Minnesota on Wednesday night for Izzo’s 400th win.


Izzo was wiping tears off his cheeks during the final seconds of the victory.


The Spartans (17-4, 6-2) moved into a first-place tie in the Big Ten with their second straight win after losing two in a row.


The Golden Gophers (15-6, 3-5) had won three straight.


, including their previous two on the road.


Minnesota’s Rodney Williams scored 15 and Ralph Sampson III had 10 points.



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