Indiana starts fast to bury Illini, snap three-game losing streak

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Indiana starts fast to bury Illini, snap three-game losing streak

They say that it's not how you start, it's how you finish. Well, Saturday in Bloomington, it was all about how Illinois and Indiana started.

The Hoosiers blitzed the Illini in the game's opening few minutes, sprinting out to a 15-0 lead and holding onto that big advantage for the majority of the remainder to grab a 96-80 win and snap a three-game losing streak.

The nightmarish start for Illinois saw it miss its first eight shots and turn the ball over a handful of times, a situation made markedly worse when star Malcolm Hill went to bench early with three fouls in the first five minutes.

Indiana kept pouring it on, too, growing that lead as large as 22 in the first half thanks to red-hot shooting. The Big Ten's top offensive team looked every bit of it, scoring 48 points in the first half and shooting 58.6 percent from the field over the first 20 minutes. Robert Johnson alone had 13 points on six made baskets. The Illini were quite the opposite, shooting just 29.2 percent in the opening period and turning the ball over seven times, which led to 15 points for the Hoosiers.

Illinois fared much better after halftime, at least on the offensive end, shooting 56.7 percent from the field over the final few minutes. The Illini, spurred by having Hill on the floor, made a few charges and whittled the Hoosiers' massive lead, which again reached 22 in the second half, down to 12 with more than 11 minutes still to play. But Indiana responded with a big James Blackmon Jr. triple, the first three of 10 straight for the Hoosiers, who again led by 22.

The Illini again chopped the big lead down, using a 13-2 burst to make it a nine-point game on Jalen Coleman-Lands' fifth 3-pointer of the game with under six minutes to play. But Illinois' shooting fell off a cliff from there, and Indiana capitalized. Thomas Bryant's 3 with about four minutes to go served as the dagger, making it a 14-point lead, but the Illini were more to blame, going more than four minutes without a basket after getting the deficit to single digits.

Defense cost Illinois in this one, as Indiana had no trouble racking up some big offensive numbers, scoring 90-plus points for the sixth time this season and shooting a stellar 59.2 percent on the afternoon. The Hoosiers ended up with 20 points off nine Illini turnovers and were tremendously efficient on offense, assisting on 22 of their 29 made baskets and hitting 13 3-pointers on the game.

Hill and Coleman-Lands each finished with 21 points for the Illini, Coleman-Lands splashing home five triples and Hill getting 11 from the free-throw line. Maverick Morgan was a point off his season-best with 18.

Blackmon had a game-high 25 points with five made 3s for Indiana, Bryant added 20, Johnson finished with 18 and OG Anunoby had 12.

Indiana's win snapped a three-game losing streak that had the Hoosiers looking anything but a contender. Indiana sits at 11-5 on the season and 1-2 in Big Ten play with a trip to Maryland coming Tuesday.

Illinois dropped to 11-5 with the loss, 1-2 in the Big Ten. Next up for John Groce's team is a home game against Michigan on Wednesday.

Michigan State defensive lineman Auston Robinson off team after being charged with sexual misconduct

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Michigan State defensive lineman Auston Robinson off team after being charged with sexual misconduct

An ugly offseason for Michigan State's football program got uglier Friday.

Defensive lineman Auston Robertson was first charged with sexual misconduct before a statement from head coach Mark Dantonio announcing that Robertson is no longer a member of the team.

Robertson, a potential starter on the defensive line who played in seven games as a freshman last season, was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct Friday after police said he raped a woman.

This is unrelated to an ongoing sexual-assault investigation involving three other Michigan State football players and a staff member, all four of which were suspended earlier this year.

Robertson came to Michigan State with some controversy. He was involved in another serious situation before even signing with the Spartans, accused of improperly touching a female classmate during his senior year of high school and receiving a misdemeanor battery charge. That charge was later removed from his record after completing a diversionary program earlier this year.

Dantonio had this to say in a statement Friday:

"The criminal sexual conduct charges announced today against Auston Robertson are of the most serious nature. Sexual assault has no place in our community. While there is an ongoing criminal process, we're extremely disappointed that Auston put himself in this position. He is no longer a member of our football program.

"Due to the charges he was facing during his recruitment, we took precaution in allowing Auston to be a part of our football program, including a thorough vetting, which we acknowledged publicly at his singing. This was a multiple-step process that continued through his final admission in the summer.

"Following his arrival on campus, he underwent an extensive educational process with specific prerequisites put in place for his participation as a student-athlete. This included daily supervised sessions within the football program and regular meetings with university staff addressing appropriate behavior and developmental growth. He also successfully completed his one-year diversionary program directed by the court, which included a 22-week course focused on behavior changes that began in Indiana and was transferred to the state of Michigan. Despite these measures, Auston broke our trust and expectations by putting himself in a compromising situation.

"Our players are representatives not only of themselves and their families, but also Michigan State University, this football program and all of those who support us. We will continue to emphasize and enforce the high standards of integrity, respect and accountability that I have for everyone in this program. We expect all of our players to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and principles of this university."

Robertson was a candidate to start along the defensive line after recording three tackles and forcing a fumble as a reserve last season.

Despite rough spring game, Wilton Speight still tops Michigan's quarterback depth chart

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Despite rough spring game, Wilton Speight still tops Michigan's quarterback depth chart

Wilton Speight is still on top of Michigan's quarterback depth chart, despite the fact that the incumbent starter had an ugly performance in the Wolverines' spring game.

Speight threw two interceptions and completed just nine of his 26 passing attempts in the spring's fanciest scrimmage. But Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters Wednesday that Speight is still ahead of everyone at the game's most important position.

"It'll always be (a competition,)" Harbaugh said in Detroit, his quotes published by the Detroit Free Press. "Still over the course of the whole spring practice, Wilton on our depth chart, he's No. 1. But it's a meritocracy. By your effort and by your talent you will be known. That's a good thing for our football team.

"We get it in camp and we go through camp, somebody that stands out and it's undeniable, that's what we're looking for, there's that one guy. Probably eight, nine, 10 practices, that's probably the range where you make up your mind on something like that. It's always going to be that meritocracy."

The challengers are John O'Korn, who was No. 2 to Speight last season, and Brandon Peters, a freshman from Indiana who had a nice spring game with 160 yards and a touchdown on just nine completions as well as a rushing touchdown.

Speight completed 61.6 percent of his passes last season, throwing for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. O'Korn completed 20 of his 34 passing attempts in game action last season, throwing for 173 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Peters was ranked as a top-160 recruit nationally by Rivals, a four-star prospect and the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2016.

Unsurprisingly for the always-secretive Harbaugh, the head coach said the quarterback competition will be ongoing and last for some time. It would be no shock to see things play out much like they did last season, when Michigan's starting quarterback was a mystery until the offense took the field in the season-opener.