Good news, everyone! We're only eight days and change away from regular season Big Ten basketball. Even better, some of the conference's teams have taken the court in exhibition games to whet our appetites for the action ahead. It's impossible to draw conclusions from games that often come against underwhelming competition, but these preseason contests are the first look we get at the league's newest players. Let's dive right in.
Sioux Falls at Iowa
The Hawkeyes and Cougars were tied at 40-40 with less than one minute to play in the first half, but before the break both Peter Jok and Mike Gesell knocked down three-pointers to give Iowa some breathing room. The momentum continued into the second half, as Fran McCaffery's team rolled to a 99-73 victory on October 29. Gesell led everyone with 24 points while adding six assists and eight rebounds. We also got a look at an extended role for Jok, as the junior sharpshooter went 4-for-7 from beyond the arc on his way to 18 points. Jarrod Uthoff pitched in with 13 points and 10 boards for Iowa, who will play a second exhibition game on Saturday versus Augustana.
Minnesota Crookston at Minnesota
Freshman Jordan Murphy got his college career off to a fast start with a game-high 19 points and nine rebounds in Minnesota's 74-57 victory over Minnesota Crookston on Sunday. Nate Mason (12 points) and Charles Buggs (11) also scored in double figures for the Gophers, who trailed Crookston 16-9 midway through the first half before going on a 15-3 run to take control of the game.
While the Golden Eagles were able to stay close to the Gophers in the field goal shooting and rebounding categories, Minnesota was able to pull away by forcing 21 turnovers on defense and only committing eight on offense. Richard Pitino's team will be back in action against Southwest Minnesota State on Friday night before tipping off the regular season versus UMKC on November 13.
Ottawa at Indiana
Despite opening the game on a 17-4 run, the Hoosiers found themselves in a rather intense battle with Canada's top-ranked collegiate program on Tuesday evening. Ottawa came back and cut the deficit to just six points with 9:13 on the second-half clock, Indiana countered with five three-pointers and a 25-3 run to end the contest with a 82-54 advantage. James Blackmon Jr. led the Hoosiers with 15 points and six assists, while highly touted freshman Thomas Bryant showed great promise with 12 points and 11 rebounds (six of which came on offense).
Although Ottawa's Caleb Agada led all scorers with 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds himself, it wasn't enough to stop Indiana, who was avenging their loss to the Gee-Gee's during a preseason tour of Canada in 2014. Next up, the Hoosiers will take on Bellarmine on Monday for a final exhibition before they open the regular season with Eastern Illinois on November 13.