Adreian Payne had a historic game for Michigan State in a 93-78 win over Delaware. After a dominant showing, the senior forward has been named NetScouts Basketball’s NCAA Tournament Player of the Day for games on Thursday, March 20th.
Payne scored a career-high 41 points while shooting 10-of-15 from the field, 4-of-5 from three, and a perfect 17-of-17 from the free throw line. His point total broke the school’s record for points in a tournament game while his display from the charity stripe set a single-game tournament record for most free throws made without a miss. He also added eight rebounds and a block.
“When you’re scoring like that and your game’s coming so easy to you, and you make a lot of shots, it feels like you’re in a rhythm,” Payne told the Associated Press. “It feels like you can’t be stopped.”
Delaware had no answer for the 6-foot-10 Payne. His athleticism and length gave him an advantage on the block while he could also stretch the floor with his perimeter jumper. He’s a good defender and a high-energy big man who can run the floor.
During the past season, Payne has been flying up NBA draft boards due to his size, bounce, and versatility. He’s become a legitimate threat from anywhere in the halfcourt and has become the definition of a mismatch. Payne turned down a possible first round selection last season, but has boosted his stock and could become a lottery pick in this year’s draft.
“He made the right decision to stay,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo. “He’s a much more cerebral player, he’s a much stronger player. He is starting to marry the inside-outside game. And if he does that on a consistent basis, I see him as one of the best ‘4’ men in the whole country.”
Thursday Game Notes
-In 16 games on Thursday, four went into overtime while the lower seeded team won four contests.
-The day started in dramatic fashion, as Dayton upset Ohio State behind Vee Sanford’s contested layup with 3.8 seconds left. Aaron Craft had 16 points (6-9 FG, 0-1 3FG), five rebounds, four assists, and four steals to end his career at Ohio State. Craft had some tough finishes around the basket late in the game to keep the Buckeyes alive, but couldn’t covert at the buzzer. He may still have an NBA opportunity due to his defensive prowess.
–Wisconsin’s backcourt of Traevon Jackson, Ben Brust, and Josh Gasser had a nice showing, combining for 42 points (13-19 FG, 7-12 3FG), 10 rebounds, and nine assists against American. Paired with a strong frontcourt of Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, the Badgers have the potential to go deep into the tournament if the guard play continues to perform at this level.
–Pittsburgh made a statement in a 77-48 win over eighth seeded Colorado. Talib Zanna had a game-high 18 points (6-7 FG) along with five rebounds.
–Harvard won its opening tournament game in back-to-back seasons with a 61-57 win over Cincinnati. The Ivy League champs were rather impressive behind its guard play from Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders along with a balanced scoring effort.
-Despite struggling late in the season, Syracuse came together for a 77-53 rout of Western Michigan. Trevor Cooney had a game-high 18 points while shooting 5-of-10 from the field and 4-of-8 from three. He’ll need to continue to knock down long-range shots for the Orange moving forward.
-Milwaukee native Elgin Cook had a career-high 23 points (8-9 FG, 7-10 FG) in his hometown as he led Oregon to an 87-68 win over BYU. The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward added eight rebounds off the bench and his energy made an instant impact. He’s a force on the defensive end and crashes the boards at both ends of the floor, proven in a highlight worthy putback slam on Thursday.
-Sixteenth seeded Albany put together a valiant effort against top-ranked Florida. The Great Danes hung around for most of the contest but couldn’t put together a run to take a late lead. Senior point guard D.J. Evans had another big game with 21 points (6-12 FG, 2-5 3FG) and seven rebounds in the 67-55 loss.
-In an anticipated 7-10 seeded matchup between Connecticut and St. Joseph’s, UConn prevailed in an 89-81 overtime win. Senior point guard Shabazz Napier had 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals but can improve on his shot selection and efficiency. DeAndre Daniels also had some crucial shots en route to an 18-point performance. Senior Langston Galloway had 25 points in his final game at St. Joe’s.
-Nik Stauskas had 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting and a 3-of-6 showing from deep as Michigan handled Wofford, 57-40. Fellow NBA prospect Glenn Robinson III had 14 points and seven rebounds.
–N.C. State had a dismal collapse from the free throw line during crunch time and eventually fell to St. Louis in overtime. The Wolfpack shot 20-of-37 from the line and couldn’t put the game away despite holding a 14-point lead with 5:03 remaining. Potential first rounder T.J. Warren had 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting and eight rebounds for N.C. State but certainly didn’t end the season how he hoped. The sophomore forward was 0-of-2 from three and 6-of-14 from the free throw line. For St. Louis, Rob Loe had 22 points (8-11 FG, 4-6 3FG), 15 rebounds, and three assists while Jordair Jett finished with 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists.
–North Dakota State won its first ever NCAA tournament game in an 80-75 overtime win versus Oklahoma. Junior guard Lawrence Alexander had 28 points (10-15 FG, 4-7 3FG) for the Bison, who have the potential to pull the upset over San Diego State if the Aztecs perform how they did on Thursday.
-Cameron Ridley converted on a put back at the buzzer to give Texas an 87-85 victory over Arizona State. The 6-foot-9, 285 pound sophomore center finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks. His improvement this season gives him NBA potential, but he’ll need to progress on the defensive end. Ridley guarded Jordan Bachynski for most of the night, who’s primarily known as a rim protector, yet Bachynski scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Sophomore point guard Jahii Carson will face another tough decision on whether to enter the draft or stay at Arizona State after finishing his season with 19 points, nine assists, six turnovers, four rebounds, and two steals.
-Luke Hancock couldn’t have picked a better time to nail his only two three-pointers of the night for Louisville. The 6-foot-6 senior shooting guard had his pair of cold-blooded threes in the final 79 seconds of play to help Louisville squeak by Manhattan in a 71-64 win. Russ Smith had 18 points, three assists, and three rebounds while Montrezl Harrell finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks.
-Despite a near collapse from San Diego State, the Aztecs survived in overtime to advance. Xavier Thames scored 23 points and dished five assists while Dwayne Polee made some key plays down the stretch, including a block, floater, and 3-of-4 showing from the free throw line in overtime.
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