With a plethora of games on the docket, the Big Ten boasted some entertaining storylines such as Corey Sanders' long awaited debut in a Rutgers uniform, the young Ohio State Buckeyes begin their roster makeover and Illinois and Wisconsin looking to avoid 0-2 starts.
Let's take a look at how each game played out.
Game of the day: Illinois Fighting Illini 80, North Dakota State 74
The Fighting Illini found themselves in unprecedented territory with head coach John Groce as they lost in November for the first time in the Groce era on Friday night against North Florida. After rallying from an 11 point deficit at halftime, the Fighting Illini used a 52 point second half to propel them to their first victory of the young season.
Illinois has been battling a plague of injuries along their backcourt with Tracy Abrams out for the season and Kendrick Nunn out until December. With D.J. Williams being the lone guard in the starting lineup, the bench needed to step up in a crucial way and some key cogs stepped up admirably. Freshman guard Jalen Coleman-Lands notched 15 points, two rebounds, two assists and four steals. Junior guard/forward Malcolm Hill tallied 13 points, four rebounds and five assists.
Former Charlotte 49er big man Mike Thorne Jr. led all scorers with 21 points and also totaled eight rebounds. Fellow big man Maverick Morgan tallied 10 points and five rebounds.
The Fighting Illini performed well defensively by generating seven steals, four blocks and forcing 15 turnovers. With the injuries sustained by key playmakers on offense, it'll be important for the Illinois defense to step up and help generate easy scoring opportunities.
In a close game, free throw shooting is pivotal for team success, and Illinois came up clutch by making more free throws than North Dakota State attempted - Illinois converted 17/27 and North Dakota State shot 90% from the line on 9/10 shots. The resiliency shown by Illinois against the second ranked team in the Summit League preseason rankings should prove useful when playing from behind in the future. The Fighting Illini have a tough test ahead of them as they face do-it-all point guard Kris Dunn and Providence on Wednesday, November, 18 at 7 p.m..
-Iowa Hawkeyes 103, Coppin State 68
It didn't take long for the Hawkeyes to build an early lead over the Eagles and eventually put them away towards the end of the first half. Iowa built an early 25-6 lead in the first half and never faltered in their quest for victory. Four Hawkeyes scored in double digits, but it was freshman guard Brady Ellingson who stole the show with 20 points off the bench. Dom Uhl, who started in place of Peter Jok, played admirably with 18 points and five rebounds on 7-for-10 shooting from the field. The Hawkeyes did a tremendous job sharing the basketball, as they produced 31 assists on 40 made field goals. The Hawkeyes travel to Marquette Thursday, November, 19.
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 67, University of Louisiana-Monroe 56
The Golden Gophers relied on 20 points and eight rebounds from starting guard Joey King to claim their second win on the young season against the Warhawks. Minnesota had terrific games from multiple guards - sophomore point guard Nate Mason tallied 12 points, four rebounds and four assists while shooting 50% from the floor and freshman backup point guard Kevin Dorsey totaled 11 points, six rebounds and two assists with only one turnover. The Golden Gophers will take on Temple in the Puerto Rico Tip-off challenge Thursday, November 19 at 11:30 a.m..
-Ohio State Buckeyes 76, Mount Saint Mary's 54
The Ohio State Buckeyes entered the 2015 season with a plethora of starting spots to fill and questions to answer, and if the opening game against the Mountaineers of Mount Saint Mary's is any indication, the young Buckeyes will be in good hands as the season progresses. Freshman point guard JaQuan Lyle set the pace early with junior forward Marc Loving, as they combined for 10 of the first 12 Buckeye points. With a team that consists of five freshmen, it's to be expected that turnovers and sloppy play will play a role in game one. With five turnovers in the first seven minutes, the young Buckeyes stepped it up on defense throughout the game by holding the Mountaineers to 7-for-25 shooting from distance. The Mountaineers predicate their offense off of perimeter shots, and without a steady low post scorer and a stingy Buckeye defense, the lead ballooned to 44-21 at halftime. The Buckeyes imposed their will down low with an astonishing 44 points in the pant. Jae'Sean Tate led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds on an efficient 8-for-12 from the field including a perfect 2-for-2 from three. Marc Loving, JaQuan Lyle and Keita Bates-Diop combined for 37 points and 27 rebounds. Four true freshman - Daniel Giddens, JaQuan Lyle, AJ Harris and Austin Grandstaff combined for 10-for-18 from the field. Ohio State faces UT-Arlington Friday, November 20, at 7 p.m..
-Purdue Boilermakers 107, Vermont 79
The Boilermakers were out to prove the Butler Bulldogs aren't the only program in Indiana to put an offensive onslaught on display, as they used 18 three pointers to put the Catamounts away without an issue. Purdue was without star big man A.J. Hammons for the second straight game due to undisclosed reasons, but Isaac Haas picked up the slack with 16 points. Freshman phenom Caleb Swanigan continued his double-double streak by posting 14 points and hauling in 13 rebounds. The 23rd ranked Boilermakers boasted six players in double figures and played well defensively, as they forced 17 turnovers. Purdue takes on Incarnate Word on Wednesday, November, 18 at 7 p.m..
-Rutgers Scarlet Knights 82, Howard 70
The Corey Sanders era in Rutgers started off with a victory as the Scarlet Knights looked impressive on offense, especially in the second half as the poured in 47 points. Three point shooting was lackluster for Rutgers - 2-for-14 (.143) - but made up for it in the form of free throw shooting. Rutgers spent nearly all afternoon at the charity stripe by converting 32-46 from the charity stripe. Junior College transfer Deshawn Freeman led the way in the scoring column with 17. Sanders finished his collegiate debut with a solid line of 15 points, five assists and 3 rebounds. The Scarlet Knights take on Chris Mullin and the St. John Red Storm Thursday, November, 19 at 7 p.m..
-Wisconsin Badgers 92, Siena 65
The Badgers avoided what would have been a disastrous start in Madison in what could possibly be Bo Ryan's last season at the helm. Bronson Koenig led the way for the Badgers with 23 points, five rebounds and four assists. Junior big man Vitto Brown posted a career-high 16 points while also hauling in seven rebounds. Newly appointed small forward Nigel Hayes was held to a modest four points in the first half and was subject to the pine due to early foul trouble, but bounced back with 10 points in the second half - Hayes went scoreless in the second half against Western Illinois last Friday. The Badgers continued to rely on freshmen Charlie Thomas and Khalil Iverson off the bench for energy and willingness to make winning plays. Defensive rotations and communication were two big factors in their opening night loss, but holding Siena below 40% field goal percentage was a step in the right direction. Wisconsin has one day off before hosting North Dakota Tuesday, November 17, at 8 p.m..