After trying to sort out the Big Ten for the past couple of months without any head-to-head games, we finally got our first taste of Big Ten vs. Big Ten action on Tuesday. It turns out that the conference's teams are just as tightly packed together as we thought going in.
Game of the day: Maryland 68, Michigan State 66 (2OT)
Travis Trice may have only connected on one-third of his field goal attempts, but he still managed to lead all scorers with 26 points. It wasn't enough, however, to outlast Maryland, who came out on top in the most exciting Big Ten game of the season so far. That's kind of surprising to say after the Spartans and Terps combined for just 31 points in a lackluster first half.
The field goal percentages may not have been high, but the drama sure was. Trice stole the ball away from Dez Wells and laid the ball in on the other end to give Michigan State a 45-44 lead with just over a minute to play in regulation. After missed field goals by Wells and Melo Trimble, Matt Costello had the chance to salt the game away with a pair of free throws. However, he only hit one, resulting in a three-point Spartan advantage with 11 seconds left. Tom Izzo could have ordered his players to foul Wells with time winding down, but instead the senior nailed a clutch three-pointer to extend the game.
It was Michigan State who ended up with a chance to win at the end of the first overtime, but Bryn Forbes badly shorted a three-point attempt to leave the game tied at 55-55. The second overtime started out well for Maryland as Wells stole the ball from Trice and let loose with a thunderous slam dunk to give the Terps a three-point lead. The Spartans figured to get the ball back with a chance to equalize when Trimble missed a three-pointer, but Richaud Pack came away with a key offensive rebound to push the lead to two possessions.
Trimble led Maryland in scoring with 17 points despite going 2-for-13 from the field. He scored 12 of his points from the free throw line. Wells was the only other Terrapin in double figures with 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists.
Michigan 73, Illinois 65 (OT)
Ricky Doyle only had 13 points in this game, but seven of them game in the final five minutes of regulation as Michigan came from behind to send their game with Illinois into overtime. Although Illinois had a chance to go for the win with 30 seconds remaining in the second half, Rayvonte Rice saw his last-second jumper fall short and Michigan blew past the Illini in the extra period.
Freshman Aubrey Dawkins, who had been averaging fewer than two points per game coming into this one, came out of nowhere to hit six treys and pace the Wolverines with 20 points. Caris LeVert added 19 as well as five assists, two of which went to Doyle towards the end of regulation.
Malcolm Hill had a great game for Illinois with 19 points and seven rebounds, but he turned out to be the only member of the Illini in double figures. The team didn't get enough out of Nnanna Egwu, who should have had more opportunities against a small Michigan lineup, or Rayvonte Rice, who shot just 3-for-11 from the field.
Iowa 71, Ohio State 65
Sluggish first halves have been a theme for Ohio State so far, and it's one that continued into the start of the conference season. The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 43-31 lead en route to a big road win that not many expected after they lost to both Iowa State and Northern Iowa earlier this month. Jarrod Uthoff wasn't very good in either of those defeats, but he excelled in this game with 18 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. While most of Uthoff's scoring came from the outside (4-for-6 from beyond the arc), Aaron White dominated the paint with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Ohio State star freshman D'Angelo Russell missed a portion of this game due to foul trouble, but he still managed to play long enough to miss all but one of his eight three-point attempts. Although Russell attempted five more field goals than any other Buckeye, it was Sam Thompson who led the team in scoring with 17 points.
Northwestern 51, Rutgers 47
The first game of the day, and therefore the first Big Ten game of the season was also the lamest. According to our power rankings, this was the best chance for Rutgers to get a win for the rest of the season. I guess they can pack it in now, because they spent most of this game two or three buckets behind a Northwestern team that hasn't exactly impressed during the non-conference schedule.
Although the Wildcats tried to feed the ball inside to Alex Olah early on, that didn't work very well. Instead, it opened things up on the perimeter, where Tre Demps and Bryant McIntosh created enough offense (16 and 17 points, respectively) to keep Rutgers at bay for most of the game. A steal and layup by Myles Mack brought the Knights within three points in the final two minutes, but Junior Etou missed a three-pointer when he tried to equalize. Kadeem Jack was kept out of the starting lineup for disciplinary reason in this game, but perhaps he shouldn't have played at all. The junior big man went 0-for-8 from the field and scored just two points.