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Associated Press
Michigan State’s Keith Appling, left, puts up a shot against New Orleans’ Isaac Mack in the first half Saturday in East Lansing, Mich. Appling scored 27 points.
Big Ten

Spartans start slow, cruise

– Keith Appling put together an impressive performance after a poor one.

Appling scored 16 of his career-high-tying 27 points in the first half to help No. 5 Michigan State pull away and rout New Orleans 101-48 Saturday.

The senior point guard, playing with a hip pointer, was held to four points on 2-for-11 shooting with just two assists in last week’s 14-point win at Texas.

“I was able to get a couple of days off over Christmas break and rest up,” Appling said. “That helped my body heal. Now, my hip feels 100 percent.”

Appling matched a season high with eight assists, had only one turnover and grabbed five rebounds against the Privateers.

“The biggest thrill was Keith coming off one of his worst games, really bounced back,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.

The Spartans (11-1) struggled for several minutes against New Orleans (3-5) before taking control with a 12-0 run midway through the first half. They led 44-27 at halftime and easily added to their comfortable cushion in the second half with 57 more points, finishing with their highest-scoring game since beating Nebraska-Omaha 110-68 two years ago.

“Once we got on track, there were some bright spots,” Izzo said.

Gary Harris scored 19, Adreian Payne had 17 points and Denzel Valentine had 10 points, a career-high 13 rebounds and six assists for the Spartans in their final tuneup before beginning the Big Ten season Tuesday night at Penn State.

Michigan State rested starting forward Branden Dawson because of a shin bruise.

“I like the direction we’re heading,” Izzo said. “I just need more consistency, but when you don’t get practice with everybody for three weeks, you shouldn’t be totally surprised by the lack of consistency.”

No. 4 WISCONSIN 80, PRAIRIE VIEW A&M 43: In Madison, Wis., Sam Dekker had 16 points and 11 rebounds for his third career double-double as the Badgers cruised.

Wisconsin (13-0) closed out its nonconference schedule with its best start since the 1913-14 squad went 15-0.

Ben Brust scored 11 for Wisconsin, while Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes added 10 points apiece.

Montrael Scott scored 14 to lead the Panthers (2-10), who finished 1-8 on a nine-game road swing.

MICHIGAN 88, HOLY CROSS 66: In Ann Arbor, Mich., Glenn Robinson III scored a career-best 23 points as the Wolverines won their second straight and pushed their winning streak over unranked opponents at Crisler Center to 20 games.

Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert each added 16 for the Wolverines (8-4).

Dave Dudzinski scored 17 points and Justin Burrell added 14 for Holy Cross (6-6), which has lost three of its last four games.

ILLINOIS 74, ILLINOIS-CHICAGO 60: In Chicago, Rayvonte Rice led a furious second-half comeback, scoring 28 points to power the Fighting Illini.

Trailing by 10 at halftime, Illinois went on an 8-0 run over the first 1:04 of the second half to erase the deficit and seize momentum.

Illinois (11-2) has won four of its last five.

Kelsey Barlow scored 21 for UIC (5-9), which shot 62.1 percent in the first half, but just 26.1 percent in the second.

CINCINNATI 74, NEBRASKA 59: In Cincinnati, Justin Jackson had his third straight double-double, and Cincinnati used its free-throw shooting and defense to overcome a poor shooting game by top scorer Sean Kilpatrick.

The Bearcats (11-2) have won four in a row since back-to-back losses to New Mexico and Xavier.

Terran Petteway scored 22 points and Ray Gallegos matched his season high with 18 points for Nebraska (8-4).

MINNESOTA 65, TEXAS A&M-CC 44: In Minneapolis, Andre Hollins scored 18 points and Austin Hollins added 13 as Minnesota finished non-conference play with a win.

Minnesota (11-2) went on an 18-2 run early in the first half, and remained in control despite stretches of sloppy play.

The Gophers shot 12 of 22 from the line and 37 percent from the field.

Jeff Beverly led the Islanders (3-10) with 10 points and Rashawn Thomas added eight.