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East Lansing — Alvin Ellis buried a 3-pointer from the corner last weekend, and as the junior ran back to the other end of the court, he motioned like was shooting an arrow into the stands.

It was the latest in a string of highlights the last couple of weeks that included some vital minutes in a comeback that fell short at Purdue and a quality stretch at Michigan. Not bad for a guy coach Tom Izzo said, “has been in the ultimate doghouse for two years.”

That can happen when you get cited twice in one summer for minor in possession, as Ellis was last year. And it can be hard to find your way out when you’re battling injuries and a roster full of guys playing your position.

It’s been enough Ellis has heard all the whispers — he’s a guy that likely will be transferring at the end of the season. Only, Ellis isn’t one of those guys.

“It’s a tough program to play for,” Ellis said after the 88-69 victory over Indiana. “I want to keep playing for this program and I know I’m a tough player. I won’t quit.”

Who might be around next year is a topic that hasn’t come up much, but will during the offseason. Four players already have signed and only three seniors are leaving to open a scholarship.

There’s a chance no one will leave, and as far as Ellis is concerned, you can take him off the list.

“I never thought about that,” he said. “I knew what was going on and my coaches and teams knew what was going on.”

The Spartans have been happy about that, at least the last couple of games. Against Purdue, Ellis entered and nailed a deep 3-pointer, three free throws after getting fouled on another 3-pointer, and made a nice touch pass to Deyonta Davis for a dunk that tied the game and erased an 18-point deficit.

His 3-pointer in the second half punctuated Michigan State’s run that buried Indiana.

“I was in the doghouse the last two years,” Ellis admitted. “And it’s tough getting out. But I kept working and kept staying focused and I think I’m starting to get out of the doghouse.”

It’s been a mixed bag for the middle-of-the-pack recruit from Chicago. As a freshman, Ellis found a role as a reserve in 2013-14 and put himself in position that offseason to have an even bigger role.

As the 2014-15 season-opener approached, incoming freshman Javon Bess was dealing with a foot injury and transfer Bryn Forbes had a broken bone in his hand. That opened the door for Ellis, who started against Navy. Midway through the first half, however, Ellis through a lob pass to Branden Dawson and badly sprained his ankle.

The injury led to a season that saw only sporadic minutes, though a 16-point outing late against Indiana was impressive. Ellis played little after that, however, even as the Spartans marched to the Final Four.

Then came the trouble in the offseason, which kept him from playing when the team went to Italy in August. And it’s led to more erratic playing time this season.

Ellis played 21 minutes against Oakland and 17 the next game at Iowa, but rarely has seen significant minutes since.

Izzo, however, has been impressed.

“We put him on the scout team, for a junior that’s not the norm always, especially for a scholarship player,” Izzo said. “He wanted to go on it to get better, he’s done a heck of a job at that, and he’s kind of working himself back into the human race. That’s the ultimate in a person, if you’re not playing good enough or not doing what you’re supposed to do and then all of a sudden you can turn it around, those are the kind of guys you love in the end, because he’s really made a concerted effort to put more into basketball.

“Basketball’s giving something back to him. Basketball gods are funny gods, they do that, and they’re doing that to him.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/mattcharboneau

Big Ten standings

 

Conf.

Overall

 

W

L

W

L

Iowa

11

2

20

5

Maryland

10

3

22

4

Indiana

10

3

20

6

Michigan

9

4

19

7

Wisconsin

8

4

16

9

Michigan State

8

5

21

5

Purdue

8

5

20

6

Ohio State

8

5

16

10

Nebraska

6

7

14

12

Northwestern

5

8

17

9

Penn State

3

9

12

13

Illinois

3

9

11

14

Rutgers

0

12

6

19

Minnesota

0

13

6

19

Tuesday’s games

■ Michigan at Ohio State, 7 p.m. ESPN

■ Northwestern at Purdue, 7 p.m. BTN

■ Rutgers at Illinois, 9 p.m. BTN

Wednesday’s games

■ Iowa at Penn State, 6:30 p.m. BTN

■ Nebraska at Indiana, 8:30 p.m. BTN

Thursday’s games

■ Wisconsin at Michigan State, 9 p.m. ESPN

■ Maryland at Minnesota, 8 p.m. BTN

Saturday’s games

■ Penn State at Rutgers, 1 p.m. ESPNU

■ Purdue at Indiana, 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Sunday’s games

■ Michigan at Maryland, 1 p.m. CBS

■ Illinois at Wisconsin, 7:30 p.m. BTN

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