This weekend ten Big Ten teams played and really showed the strength of the conference. There aren’t many weekends where the conference can boast about wins over the SEC, Pac 12, Big 12, and ACC among others, but today they can. The only teams not to play were Wisconsin and Minnesota. Overall, there were seven wins at home and three on the road. The biggest wins on the weekend came Saturday with Illinois and Michigan State getting nice wins on the road and Michigan finally getting a quality win at home.
Michigan State played a nationally televised game against Texas and proved they deserve their top 5 ranking with their win on the road. After the first half ended, the Spartans were down two, but that’s when the pace of the game dramatically changed. The pace in the second half became so fast that it was tiring to watch (I paused the game to catch my own breath). 96 points were scored in the second half compared to 74 in the first. Surprisingly, it was the shooting and rebounding that pushed the Spartans to a big win shooting 50% from the field and outrebounding the Longhorns by 10. Adreian Payne led the charge with 33 points and 9 rebounds while Gary Harris came off the bench to score 19 points and dish out 5 dimes.
When Illinois and Missouri face off against each other, you can almost guarantee a close game that’ll come down to the last shot. Well, last night, that’s exactly what happened except it came down to the last free throws. Missouri and Illinois exchanged three pointers in the last two minutes of the game, but with 4.6 seconds left in the game and the Fighting Illini down by one, Tracy Abrams drove to the basket and was fouled. He made both of the free throws to put Illinois up one and Missouri could not win it with an almost half court shot. In what was an evenly matched game all night, Abrams added 22 points and 5 rebounds. Missouri was led by their junior point guard Jordan Clarkson, who had 25 points and 8 assists in the loss.
Ohio State entered Madison Square Garden with an undefeated record, and if it wasn’t for Lenzelle Smith Jr. scoring 7 points in the last 33 seconds of the game, the Buckeyes would probably have left MSG with a loss. Ohio State had a 7-point lead going into the half, but lost it due to a 9:10 stretch in the second half where they didn’t make a field goal. It was at that point that Notre Dame had an 8-point lead, but were outscored 20-9 in the final 5:33 of the game. Aaron Craft only had 10 points and 3 assists, but he made them count with a great pass to Smith that put the Buckeyes up by one with 16 seconds left. After a turnover, free throws, and a last second three pointer, Ohio State could breath easy after getting the win. LaQuinton Ross led the team with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
In what was probably the sloppiest game on Saturday for the Big Ten, Michigan beat an 8-4 Stanford team while shooting less than 30% from three and 70% from the free throw line. Mitch McGary did not play and Caris LeVert only scored 1 point, but still found a way to beat Stanford by 3. Stanford jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but never held the lead again. The Wolverines were led by Nik Stauskas who had 19 points and 4 assists. He hit two free throws with 8 seconds left to put Michigan up by 3. Stauskas ended up 9 of 9 from the free throw line. Zak Irvin played one of his best games of the season adding 12 points off 4 three pointers and recording 6 rebounds. If McGary misses more time, the Wolverines will need Irvin to be an offensive threat off the bench.
Nebraska kept their undefeated home record intact when the Citadel came to Lincoln last night. The Cornhuskers and Bulldogs were tied going into half, but Nebraska’s Terran Petteway and Shavon Shieldss had great second halves that led to a 15-point win. Together, the two of them scored 24 of the 45 Cornhusker points in the second half. The final score is deceiving though as Nebraska was down with just under 12 minutes left in the game. From there the lead hovered around eight until around the two-minute mark. It was Shields’ 4 free throws that pushed their lead from 9 to 13. Petteway had his second best scoring performance of the season scoring 27 points on 50% from the field.
The Sunday games started with Indiana and Iowa beating up on weaker competition as Indiana beat the 3-10 Kennesaw State Owls and Iowa won over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The games were in hand by half time and there wasn’t any doubt after that. Indiana improved to 9-1 at home and 10-3 overall with the win. Yogi Ferrell had one of his best games of the season scoring 25 points, but also adding 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Iowa had a well-rounded effort in the 25-point win over AR-Pine Bluff. The Hawkeyes remained undefeated at home (8-0) mainly due to their three point shooting making 10 of 17.
Penn State and Northwestern both struggled at home, but came out victorious nonetheless. Northwestern beat Brown 58-52, led by senior forward Drew Crawford. He had 24 points and 11 rebounds in the win. This was Brown’s first game in 11 days and it showed as they shot 31% from the field and only 47% from the free throw line. Northwestern didn’t play much better shooting 35% and 67%. Penn State came back from a 9-point deficit at halftime to beat Mount St. Mary’s 92-82. Not surprisingly, Penn State had five different players in double digits, but John Johnson’s 20 points off the bench led the way. D.J. Newbill also added 18 points and 6 rebounds.
Purdue was the only Big Ten team to play on the road Sunday and came out with a 3-point win over West Virginia. The Boilermakers were up 2 at half and as the score shows, the game remained close the entire 40 minutes. The Boilermakers held the lead for the entire second half led by Terone Johnson, who had 20 points and 6 rebounds against the Mountaineers. Purdue has struggled on the road this season, and will have to shoot better at the line among other things to have a chance against #3 Ohio State on New Years Eve.
The Big Ten will resume action on Friday with Ohio State playing UL Monroe and Northwestern playing against DePaul, both of which are at home.