Who needs NFL Sunday's when there are three non-conference college basketball tournaments concluding? The Big Ten was well represented yesterday in prestigious tournaments such as the 2K Classic, Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament and Puerto Rico Tip-off.
Let's see how the Big Ten fared in yesterday's action.
Game of the Night: Wisconsin Badgers 74, VCU 73
Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan made it clear in the opening minutes that Bronson Koenig was going to get an ample amount of opportunities to create scoring opportunities for himself, and the junior guard did just that. Koenig came out firing immediately with two early three pointers and established his dribble drive attack as a complement to his jump shot.
Redshirt freshman forward Ethan Happ stepped up nicely by generating offense on the low block and with penetration. The young big man could be a viable candidate for Wisconsin's "third scorer" label that many people are searching for. Happ finished with an efficient 12 points off 4-for-6 shooting from the field.
The Badger offense clicked on all cylinders in the early goings of the first half, as the young squad produced a 13-4 run at the under-16 media timeout. With coach Ryan and his staff evaluating the wing position experiment for junior Nigel Hayes, the offense was predicated on low block decisions by Hayes, as facilitating was a major facet in Hayes' game. Getting others involved became elementary as the Ram's defense would double down on Hayes and leave a Badger player wide open.
Throughout the first half, Koenig fell victim to foul trouble which allowed VCU to claw their way into the lead. The Rams established a 43-37 halftime lead thanks to a 13-5 run predicated on defensive pressure and maximizing fast break opportunities.
VCU's stifling defense continued into the second half as the Badger offense struggled to get any sort of offense generated - Koenig wasn't even able to make the initial pass to get a play started.
With frustration beginning to mount, Badgers coach Bo Ryan was issued a technical foul which ended up being the catalyst to save the game. Wisconsin proceeded to generate a 11-3 run. Koenig then returned to his first half groove by creating shots off the dribble and pulling up for easy midrange jumpers.
After trailing by less than five points for most of the second half, VCU clawed their way back into the lead by a score of 73-72 with 22.7 seconds remaining - the Rams' other lead in the game was 50-49. In the waning seconds, Koenig drove the ball down the court, beat his man off the dribble and made a contested, left-handed layup to put the game on ice. The Rams failed to convert on a last second three point attempt which vaulted the Badgers to the 74-73 win. Koenig led all scorers with 22. Hayes, Happ and guard Zak Showalter were the other Badgers in double figures - 10, 12 and 10 respectively. The Rams were led in the backcourt by guard Melvin Johnson's 21 points and five rebounds and Korey Billbury's 17 points. The Badgers took care of business on the glass by corralling 39 rebounds to VCU's 30. At 3-2, the Badgers return home to face Prairie View A&M on Wednesday, November 25 at 8 p.m..
-Texas Tech 81, Minnesota Golden Gophers 68
In a matchup of contrasting offensive preferences, the Minnesota Golden Gophers' three-point shooting wasn't enough to match the low post scoring of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Gophers got off to a slow start thanks to multiple missed block out assignments that turned into second chance opportunities for Texas Tech. The offense was stagnant as the Gopher's key cog Joey King only scored two points in the first half. Minnesota did everything they could to defend the paint and even went into a 2-3 zone in the second half, but to no avail. Guards Carlos Morris and Kevin Dorsey issued solid contributions by penetrating and scoring in the paint. Morris and King both finished with 15 points apiece. Dorsey tallied eight. The Golden Gophers take on Omaha Friday, November 27 at 3 p.m..
- Nebraska Cornhuskers 92, Southeastern Louisiana
It was an offensive explosion for Nebraska inside Pinnacle Bank Arena as the Cornhuskers cruised to victory without any issues whatsoever. The game was virtually over by the under-16 timeout as Nebraska held an 18-2 lead going into the first media timeout. The Cornhuskers never faltered from their offensive game plan. Point guard Benny Parker got into the action early by hitting a couple of three pointers and driving to the rim. Junior guard Tai Webster and freshman Jack McVeigh outscored Southeastern Louisiana by halftime - the duo totaled 17 points while Nebraska led 53-16 at the end of the first half. Five Cornhuskers scored in double digits, but freshman guard Glynn Watson Jr. led the Cornhuskers with 15. Nebraska's next opponent is Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Tuesday, November 24 at 8 p.m..
- Purdue Boilermakers 85, Florida 70
The Boilermakers continued their dominance on the young season with a solid offensive output as a team. Five Purdue players eclipsed the double digit mark, but were led by the defending Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award winner Rapheal Davis' 18 points. The highly touted Boilermaker frontcourt continued to impose their will down low. Isaac Haas totaled 11 points, freshman Caleb Swanigan tallied 12 points and six rebounds and senior A.J. Hammons had seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Hammons moved into second place on Purdue's all-time blocked shots list. Reserve sophomore guard P.J. Thompson generated a sound offensive game with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals. The Boilermakers are back in action on Saturday, November 28 as they host Lehigh at 7 p.m..