Three teams, Illinois, Purdue, and Rutgers, all battled it out on Saturday. Though there was plenty of Big Ten excitement on Friday night, there was still a little bit left over for Saturday's slate of games. Particularly, Illinois lost to Chattanooga at home to drop to an abysmal 1-3 on the young season. Purdue skated past Old Dominion in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tip-Off. Meanwhile, Rutgers held off Central Arkansas to move to 3-1 on the season.
Game of the Night: Chattanooga 81, Illinois 77
John Groce's Fighting Illini have had a frustrating start to the season to say the least. After dropping its home opener to North Florida and then barely losing on the road to Providence, Illinois gives up 81 points at home to Chattanooga and walks away with a 1-3 record.
Illinois trailed by as many as 13 in the first and second halves, but the Fighting Illini used the crowd as momentum and climbed back into the game late in the second half. Illinois led by as many as 7 before Chattanooga got hot down the stretch. The Mocs hit a three pointer on 4 straight possessions and essentially buried the Illini. Illinois got cold down the stretch and could not hit a shot on their last few possessions. As a result, the Mocs walked away with a buge victory in Springfield over the struggling Fighting Illini.
Though Illinois managed to shoot better than Chattanooga from the floor (51.7% vs. 50.0%), the Mocs lit them up from downtown, connecting on 12 out of 30 three point attempts. That was the difference in a tightly contested game, as Illinois was only able to knock down 4 out of 13 shots from beyond the arc. Malcolm Hill led the way for the Illini with 25 points while Eric Robertson led the Mocs with 15.
All in all, its already been a frustrating season for Illinois. The inability to beat a decent opponent at home is difficult for the program, and it will have a lot of ground to cover if it wants to go dancing in March.
Purdue 61, Old Dominion 39
Defense was the name of the game for the Boilermakers as they rolled over Old Dominion Saturday afternoon. Purdue held its opponent to just 23.0% from the field including 14.3% from beyond the three point line. A.J. Hammons in his first game back for Purdue put on a show. The star center scored 18 and grabbed 6 rebounds. Hammons showed why he's in consideration to be the Big Ten Player of the Year. Purdue gets yet another easy victory as they move to 4-0 on the young season.
Central Arkansas 84, Rutgers 87
Rutgers was able to outlast Central Arkansas in a shootout Saturday night. Both teams shot better than 45% from the field and combined to score a total of 171 points. Despite turning the ball over more frequently, Rutgers capitalized on free throws as they connected on 24 attempts from the charity stripe. The Scarlet Knights were led by Mike Williams with 25 and had a good contribution from Deshawn Freeman with 23.