Both Minnesota and Penn State are teams that picked up plenty of wins during the non-conference play but have struggled to keep the momentum rolling into the Big Ten slate. Whether that is due to not scheduling enough tough opponents or something else is up for debate. What's not debatable is that both programs were desperate for wins coming into Tuesday night matchups with formidable yet beatable opponents.
Game of the night: Iowa at Minnesota
With his team trailing by two points with just over three seconds to play, Richard Pitino drew up a play to take advantage of DeAndre Mathieu's speed. The senior point guard caught the ball around midcourt, burst towards the hoop, and laid the ball up and in for what appeared to be the equalizer. Unfortunately, the referees ruled (and replay confirmed) that Mathieu still had the ball in his hand when the buzzer sounded. The game ended with Iowa ahead 77-75.
Just moments before, Jarrod Uthoff came off of a screen for Iowa and knocked down a 17-foot jumper to put the Hawkeyes in front. At first it appeared that there were over six seconds remaining, but the clock had mysteriously stopped running for three seconds during the Iowa possession. The officials used a stopwatch to roll the clock down to where it stood before Mathieu's fateful drive.
Even before the dramatic finish, this was an exciting game with strong offensive performances from both sides. Iowa led for most of the game thanks to a Uthoff, who is in the midst of a breakout season. The junior from Cedar Rapids went 7-for-10 from the field for 22 points, five rebounds, four assists, and four blocks.
Although Minnesota big men Elliot Eliason and Maurice Walker were bothered by foul trouble, the Gophers stormed back thanks to a combined 37 points from Carlos Morris and Nate Mason. With Andre Hollins shooting just 2-for-12 from the field, it took all the pair could muster to draw Minnesota within range of the elusive win.
Penn State at Indiana
With big man Hanner Mosquera-Perea sitting out due to a knee injury, the Hoosiers had a tough time keeping Penn State off the offensive glass. The Lions grabbed 13 offensive rebounds and featured a surprisingly balanced attack with six scorers in double figures. However, that wasn't enough to keep Penn State out of the loss column for the fourth straight time in conference play.
Indiana made up for Penn State's rebounding advantage by hitting their threes and winning the free throw battle. Robert Johnson led the way by going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc and leading all scorers with 20 points. Stanford Robinson came off the bench and went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe on his way to 12 points. Still, poor interior Hoosier defense allowed the Lions a chance to tie the game before the final buzzer. Trailing by three with four seconds left, D.J. Newbill missed an off-balance three-pointer. Brandon Taylor corralled the rebound and rushed off a desperation heave that left his hand just a moment too late before dropping in. Indiana survived 76-73.
Michigan at Ohio State
Michigan came into Tuesday's rivalry game with a surprising 3-1 conference mark thanks to a pair of second-half comebacks over Illinois and Minnesota. The Wolverines once again found themselves trailing in this one, but D'Angelo Russell and Ohio State had little trouble putting them away for a 71-52 win. When Michigan doesn't shoot well, its games can get ugly, and that was the case last night. As a team, the Wolverines shot just 23 percent from three-point range (6-for-26) and 34 percent overall.
Ohio State has been doomed recently by some poor Russell performances, but he stepped up with 21 points and six assists on 6-for-12 shooting. Sam Thompson added 12 points and five steals for the Buckeyes, while Amir Williams protected the rim with 10 points and three blocks.