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Michigan State's Tom Izzo remorseful, but comes up short at the press conference

Michigan State's Tom Izzo remorseful, but comes up short at the press conference

Tom Izzo only wanted to talk about basketball.

On Sunday afternoon in College Park, Md., Izzo's No. 6 ranked Michigan State Spartans rallied from down 13 to defeat the Maryland Terrapins 74-66.

The win keeps Michigan State just 1.5 games behind conference-leading Purdue, but also provided one of the first true chances Izzo had to speak to the media in the wake of the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nasser, a Michigan State University doctor who was in charge of team medicine for the U.S. Olympics gymnastics program.

I just hope that everybody rallies behind this team a little bit, and I hope we all rally behind the survivors, and we make our community a better place," Izzo said during his postgame interview on CBS.

When he took to the dais in the Xfinity Center media room, Izzo tried to stick to the game, but it was clear what was on everyone's mind. 

"i've cooperated with every investigation and will continue to do so," Izzo said, before insisting that he will only answer basketball questions.

Izzo was then pressed by an ESPN Outside the Lines reporter."You understand of course we have a lot of questions and you have not given any answers."

Izzo's response: "Nope. And I’m not gonna right now. Sorry.”

But this is a basketball issue. It is a Michigan State university issue. it is a Michigan State athletics issue.

On Friday, an ESPN Outside the Lines report uncovered a litany of evidence that suggests Michigan State officials engaged in “denial, inaction, and information suppression” when made aware of sexual assault accusations against members of the men’s football and basketball teams.

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In 2010, two Michigan State basketball players were accused of sexual assault by a fellow Michigan State student. One of the players refused to speak with police, while the other player corroborated the victim's claims, evening stating "I understand how she would feel that she was not free to leave.” 

The two players involved — then-incoming freshmen Keith Appling and Adriean Payne — we're never charged, or reprimanded by Izzo. The same Outside the Lines report also stated that Izzo allowed undergraduate student assistant coach Travis Walton to continue to work with the team even after he was accused of punching a women at a bar. Another student claimed Walton had sexually assaulted her several months prior. 

When asked about Walton, Izzo did not have a lot to say.

"It's been hard to focus on basketball, because when I do, I feel guilty," Izzo said, trying keep the focus on his team's stellar second-half performance on Sunday. 

While Izzo has never been found guilty of covering up or deterring sexual assault accusations, there is no room for error given the current climate. Even Izzo, one of the "good guys" in college basketball, is not free from criticism. Izzo knows better than most that he's not just a basketball coach. He is an educator, a boss, an advocate, a spokesperson, and a role model.

March is typically when Izzo and his team shine. But March Madness can wait, because Izzo needs to shine now.

With the university president and the athletic director out of power, Izzo is in a position to be completely transparent and go above and beyond to help the victims, something both AD Mark Hollis and school president Lou Ann Simon did not do.

Izzo didn't "lose the press conference" per se, but he didn't win it either. Izzo wants to do what's best here. He feels for all those involved, but his words on Sunday weren't enough.

Izzo could have stepped up and been the guiding light, as he's been in the past. He wanted to talk basketball.

But this is a basketball issue and Izzo should have said more.

 

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

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Palmer's big 2nd half lifts Huskers past Maryland

LINCOLN, Neb. -- James Palmer Jr. scored 24 of his 26 points in the second half, Isaiah Roby had all 11 of his after half, and Nebraska held off Maryland 70-66 on Tuesday night.

Palmer and Roby combined for 35 of the Cornhuskers' 40 second-half points, and they secured their first 20-win season since 2008. They won a sixth straight conference game for the first time in 20 years.

Palmer scored 15 straight points for the Huskers (20-8, 11-4 Big Ten) over a 10-minute span that ended when Roby hit one of two free throws with 2:57 left for a 64-59 lead. Roby had a double-double, with 10 rebounds, and he also blocked three shots.

The Terps (17-11, 6-9) had a chance to take the lead with a minute to play, but Glynn Watson Jr. blocked Anthony Cowan Jr.'s 3-point try, Evan Taylor came up with the loose ball and got it to Watson.

Watson missed a 3-pointer coming out of a timeout, and Roby got the rebound and was immediately fouled. He made both free throws for a 66-63 lead. Kevin Huerter's layin cut it to one point before Watson made two free throws.

Huerter went to the line with 2.8 seconds left, and after making the first free throw he intentionally missed the second. Palmer got the rebound, was fouled and put the game away with two free throws.

Bruno Fernando led the Terps with 21 points and nine rebounds. Huerter added 12 points and Darryl Morsell had 11.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terps' fading NCAA Tournament hopes might have been dashed with their seventh straight road loss.

Nebraska: The Huskers are resting firmly on the NCAA bubble and absolutely needed this win. They got it, thanks to Palmer and Roby's efforts in the second half.

UP NEXT

Maryland hosts Rutgers on Saturday. It's the teams' only meeting this season.

Nebraska visits Illinois. The Huskers beat the Illini 64-63 in Lincoln on Jan. 15.

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Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

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USA TODAY Sports

Maryland overwhelmed by Penn State in close loss

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Lamar Stevens feels like he's playing his most consistent basketball right now, a bad omen for upcoming opponents considering Penn State expects its hybrid forward to do a little bit of everything.

Just like he did on Wednesday.

Stevens scored 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting with 14 in the second half to lift Penn State over Maryland 74-70.

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"Lamar really stepped up for us," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "We needed every one of those points that he had tonight."

Tony Carr added 16 points, Josh Reaves scored 14, and Mike Watkins added 11 for the Nittany Lions (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten Conference), who equaled their previous best mark for conference victories under Chambers.

"The best teams always find ways to win," Stevens said. "We locked down when we had to, got huge stops, huge rebounds and I think that's a huge step for this team."

With Maryland (16-10, 5-8) up 20-14 midway through the first half, Stevens nailed his first of two 3-pointers to spark a quick 9-0 run that helped Penn State take control.

He rolled layups off his fingers and sank midrange jumpers on multiple back-to-back possessions in the second half, where he scored 11 of his team's first 20 points.

"He made some incredible, incredible shots," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He was terrific, he was so efficient."

Stevens added four rebounds, two assists and was 3-for-4 on free throws with all three makes coming in the final 5:48 as Maryland threatened.

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Anthony Cowan Jr. led Maryland with 15 points while Kevin Huerter and Bruno Fernando added 13 apiece.

Darryl Morsell had 10 points for the Terrapins, who cut a 10-point deficit with 8:11 to play to just three with 1:13 left.

"I didn't think we competed in the first half defensively," Turgeon said. "I thought in the second half, we were really trying hard."

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terrapins' disappointing season continues and they have dropped to 7-7 since stalwart forward Justin Jackson's season was ended by a torn shoulder ligament in late December. Although they shot better than their season average, the Terrapins were badly outplayed in the paint, getting outscored 32-22 and outrebounded 27-23.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are playing an exciting brand of basketball as of late. They have a combined 22 dunks over their last three home games and opponents are finding it hard to play fast against a team that thrives on speed.