With final exams approaching for many Big Ten programs, there was a light slate of games across the conference yesterday. With a down-to-the wire game in Nebraska and a blowout win in Evanston, let's take a look at the action.
Game of the Night: Nebraska 70 Rhode Island 67
Rhode Island brought a gritty group of Rams into Pinnacle Bank Arena and used a bruising, physical presence to compete admirably against the Cornhuskers.
Andrew White III, the Huskers' leading scorer through the first 10 games, was held in check throughout the duration of the game. The Rams used a pack line defense which enabled Nebraska to get many clean open looks in the paint. On top of their rugged interior defense is an impressive perimeter defense, but the Huskers found success along the three point line which kept them in contention during the first half.
Offensively, the Rams used an impressive dribble-drive attack and combined that with a pick and roll offense that stifled the Cornhuskers in the first half. With Hassan Martin in early foul trouble, URI junior Kuran Iverson had his way early against Shavon Shields by being the beneficiary of terrific ball movement of the pick and roll offense. Shields repeatedly got beat off the dribble or just out muscled in the paint for easy baskets, which helped generate a 37-32 Rhode Island lead at halftime.
The Cornhuskers had to rely on freshmen Glynn Watson Jr. and Michael Jacobsen to help ignite their second half offensive output. Watson, a former four-star recruit, came off the bench and provided a tremendous stat line of 17 points, two rebounds, two assists and one steal. Jacobsen tallied a career-high 11 points and tallied four rebounds for the Huskers.
After being exploited on the defensive end in the first half, Shavon Shields got his revenge in the second half by being aggressive on the offensive end and serving as the catalyst to the game-clinching run for the home team. Shields led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Rhode Island seemingly held control of the game for 37 minutes, but the Cornhuskers used a 17-6 run in the last three minutes to come from behind and take a much needed victory over a solid Atlantic 10 opponent. The Cornhuskers have two non-conference foes on their schedule. With a week off due to upcoming finals, the Cornhuskers aren't on the court until December 20, as they host Samford at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
-Northwestern 77, Chicago State 35
The Northwestern Wildcats used a tremendous team defensive performance and a stellar outing from senior guard Tre Demps to make easy work of the Chicago State Cougars. It was the Tre Demps and Alex Olah show in the first half, as the duo combined for 20 of the team's first 24 points. The Cougars tried to stymie Northwestern's efforts in getting Olah the ball on the low block by going to a 2-3 zone in the first half. The open spots in the zone allowed Demps to have a lights-out night from behind the arc. The second half was never a contest, as the lead ballooned to 40 points by the under-4 timeout. Demps led the way for Northwestern with 23 points and nine rebounds - both of those are career-highs. Reserve forward Nathan Taphorn tallied 11 points on 3-for-6 behind the arc and 4-for-7 from the field. Taphorn and Demps were the only two to notch double figures in the scoring column, but the Wildcats used 15 three pointers to help bury the Cougars.
Northwestern is back in action Tuesday, December 15 as they host Mississippi Valley State at 8 p.m..