We're only a week into the regular season, and already Big Ten basketball fans have been treated to some exciting Gavitt Tipoff Games. On Thursday, the action got even more heated with the start of the Puerto Rico Tip-off in San Juan. How would Minnesota fare in a bracket loaded with NCAA Tournament candidates?
Game of the day: Temple Owls 75, Minnesota Golden Gophers 70
Nate Mason led all scorers with 20 points, but it wasn't enough to get Minnesota the win in the tournament opener. The Gophers shot just 38 percent from the floor and could not figure out how to slow down Jaylen Bond, who led Temple with 19 points and eight rebounds on 8-for-12 shooting. Minnesota appeared to have seized momentum with a 17-2 run that created a 56-50 lead with eight minutes to play, but the Owls struck back with a 15-2 spurt during which guard Devin Coleman hit a pair of three-pointers and scored eight of his 15 points.
Carlos Morris scored 16 points for the Gophers and Bakary Konate had 11, but Richard Pitino's squad didn't get a single field goal from its bench on Thursday afternoon. Temple, meanwhile, had Obi Enechionyia come off the pine and contribute 14 points. While Minnesota is now eliminated from winning the Puerto Rico Tip-off, it still has a chance to pick up quality wins in the loser's bracket. Missouri State is up next in an early game today, but Mississippi State or Texas Tech could be on tap for Sunday if the Gophers win that one.
Rutgers led 50-36 with just over 11 minutes to play in this one, but St. John's stormed back to take a 60-59 lead on a pair of Ron Mvouika free throws. The Knights had a chance to counter, but a missed free throw by D.J. Foreman and a turnover by Corey Sanders sealed their fate. It was a tough loss against a young Red Storm team on the road, as few thought Rutgers would have a large lead in the second half against a major-conference opponent. The advantage had a lot to do with Bishop Daniels, who set careers highs with 21 points, eight rebounds, and five steals. That was more than enough to pace all scorers.
Mike Williams was the only other Knight in double figures in a game that saw Rutgers hold St. John's to 32-percent field goal shooting. However, Rutgers did itself in by converting on just five of its 14 free throw attempts. Eddie Jordan's team will try to bounce back against Central Arkansas on Saturday evening.
Even after a couple of nice cupcake victories to bounce back from that embarrassing exhibition loss, it was hard to see Iowa blowing away a respectable Marquette team on the road, but that's exactly what happened on Thursday night in Milwaukee. The Hawkeyes jumped out to an 18-6 lead in the first six minutes of play and didn't look back, hitting on 55 percent of their field goals, including a 12-for-22 performance from three-point range. On defense, they forced 19 turnovers and held Marquette to 39-percent shooting.
All five Iowa starters scored in double figures, and Peter Jok led the way with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting. The Hawkeyes' next challenge will be their toughest yet: a Thanksgiving matchup against Dayton during the Advocare Invitational in Orlando.
The Hoosiers had 51 points by halftime and probably could have topped Iowa's point total if not for 18 turnovers and only nine free throw attempts. With those numbers, you know Indiana had to shoot well in this game, and shoot well it did. James Blackmon Jr. led the team with 19 points while Yogi Ferrell added 15 along with nine rebounds and six assists while the Hoosiers as a team shot 50 percent from the field and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds.
Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. had a game-high 21 points and went 9-for-15 from the floor, but it wasn't enough to combat an Indiana offensive effort that could become typical this season. Next up for Tom Crean's squad is a date with Wake Forest in the opening round of the Maui Invitational on Monday.
After a pair of Jason Owens jump shots cut Nebraska's lead to 63-59 with just over five minutes to go, you couldn't blame Huskers fans for having flashbacks to last year's upsetting loss to Incarnate Word. Fortunately, Nebraska countered with big shots from Shavon Shields and Andrew White to close the game on a 12-1 run and pull out with the victory. Shields led the team with 21 points, seven assists, and five rebounds, while White added 20 points and now has at least 18 in each Nebraska game this season. The Huskers will look to start a winning streak versus Southeastern Louisiana on Sunday.