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February 19, 2013

Did Zeller frame Nix?

EAST LANSING - A video angle from last night's Michigan State-Indiana game reveals that Spartan center Derrick Nix apparently did not intentionally hit Indiana center Cody Zeller in the groin, as was reported during ESPN's live broadcast.

The video, shown below, indicates that Zeller pulled Nix's wrist into his own groin. Zeller then doubles over in pain, turns to the officials in lobbying for a call.



After contact Nix put his arms up in "I didn't do anything" fashion.

The video is a portion of ESPN's actual broadcast. Despite evidence of Nix's innocence, ESPN commentator Dick Vitale attacked Nix for what he thought was an unsportsmanlike transgression by the Michigan State senior. In watching a replay from the sideline, Vitale saw Nix's wrist go into Zeller's groin area but missed the fact Zeller pulled Nix's arm to initiate contact.

Vitale harshly criticized Nix for what he thought was a malicious maneuver:

"Oh, oh, he made contact, he made contact!," Vitale said. "There is no doubt about it. No doubt about it, he catches him with an elbow there. Did you see that Magic?"

Fellow commentator Earvin "Magic" Johnson saw it the same way, and said, "Yep. Yes, he did."

"There is no place for that in basketball," Vitale said.

"No," Johnson agreed.

"Play the game, play the good sportsmanship, play the game," Vitale said. "Don't ruin it because of some stupidity and some immature action."

Said Johnson: "And Nix had just scored two big baskets for four points and then to go down, when all the momentum had switched to Michigan State."

Continued Vitale: "There is no place for that in the game. You could injure someone severely."


MSU head coach Tom Izzo pulled Nix from the game momentarily. Officials reviewed the incident on the sidelines and decided not to punish Nix or Zeller with a technical foul. The game was delayed for four real-time minutes. Zeller succeeded in stopping the game, briefly getting Nix out of the game and halting MSU's momentum as it reached a peak.

In the four possessions immediately prior to the incident, Nix went on a dominant tear in turning a 63-62 deficit into a 66-63 Spartan lead.

Nix's four pivotal plays:

1. With 3:27 remaining, Nix moved his feet defensively to cut off a Zeller drive at the baseline. Zeller attempted a kickout pass to teammate Christian Watford, but Zeller's wild pass resulted in a turnover.

2. Nix then missed a hook shot in the post, grabbed an offensive rebound and missed a put-back (due to a Zeller block), but then grabbed another offensive rebound and converted that put-back to put MSU up 64-63 with 3:01 left.

3. Then Nix stole an entry pass from the wing intended for Zeller.

4. Then Nix went to work against Watford in the post and easily blew by him with a spinning dropstep move to his right shoulder for an easy lay-up and a 66-63 lead, with 2:37 left.

Breslin Center's sold out crowd erupted with its loudest roar of the night as MSU matched its biggest lead of the game since the opening minutes. Ten seconds later, Zeller grabbed Nix's arm and apparently attempted to frame him by pulling Nix's wrist into his groin, halting MSU's momentum and succeeding in getting Nix out of the game.

Indiana outscored Michigan State 9-1 the rest of the way in securing a Hoosier victory.




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