There were no ranked teams in action on Wednesday night, but there was still plenty of drama. Could D.J Newbill finally carry Penn State to a conference win? Did Illinois have a chance to beat Purdue with another key player injured?
Game of the night: Purdue at Illinois
With Aaron Cosby recently joining Rayvonte Rice on the injured list, Illinois needed someone to step up against Purdue. That man ended up being Leron Black. The freshman out of Memphis started for the Illini and posted 15 points and a career-high 13 rebounds (six on offense) to help his team defeat the Boilers 66-57. Although it was Malcolm Hill who led all scorers with 18 points, he deferred to Black on a key possession in the final minute. Illinois was up by five and needing a bucket to put Purdue away, and it looked like Hill was going to take the shot himself with the shot clock winding down. At the last moment, however, he dished to Black, who calmly nailed an 18-foot jumper to put the game out of reach.
Purdue may have fared better in this one if not for an injury to star sniper Kendall Stephens. The sophomore shot 0-for-4 from the field in the first half and did not play after halftime due to an injured finger. As a result, the Boilers shot just 40 percent from the field and 5-for-21 from beyond the arc in a game that saw Illinois' Nnanna Egwu take away a lot of interior chances with five blocks. Jon Octeus and Rapheal Davis led Purdue with 14 points a piece, while big men A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas combined for just 10 points and nine rebounds.
Penn State at Michigan State
The Lions did a lot of the things they needed to do to pull off the upset in East Lansing. They limited turnovers (just 13 on the night), held the Spartans to just 4-for-13 three-point shooting, and got D.J. Newbill heavily involved on offense. However, 27 points from the conference's leading scorer was not enough to put Penn State over the top.
The score was tied with just over four minutes left, but some questionable foul calls against Penn State frustrated Pat Chambers into committing a technical foul. That was followed up by a Bryn Forbes three-pointer and a layup by Travis Trice in transition that helped Michigan State put away a 66-60 win.
While Penn State once again failed to find enough help for Newbill, the effort by Michigan State was a more balanced one. Six different players scored between nine and 12 points, with Branden Dawson and Gavin Schilling standing out with a combined 23 points and 20 rebounds. 11 of those boards were on the offensive end, and that turned out being key for the Spartans in the slim victory.