The Big Ten had three games on Thursday night, none of which was a marquee game, although Ohio State-Purdue turned out to be pretty exciting. Wisconsin and Penn State were near the bottom of the conference. Nobody expected much from Iowa and Rutgers, although the Scarlet Knights were fairly competitive. Ohio State and Purdue held the most promise for 'Game of the Night.'
Game of the Night: Purdue Boilermakers 75, Ohio State Buckeyes 64
Ohio State led Purdue at the half 36-33, and Purdue really struggled from the field. (They were 0-for-8 from three.) More importantly, Purdue's defense didn't look sharp early. The Buckeyes successfully drove by perimeter defenders and found open shots.
Caleb Swanigan came out firing in the second half, scoring Purdue's first five points, and tying the score. But Ohio State was incredibly active defensively and on the glass despite being overmatched inside.
Neither team really separated early in the second half. Ohio State reached the bonus halfway through and didn't trail until Ryan Cline hit a huge three with almost eight minutes left to give Purdue a 53-52 lead. The Boilermakers led the rest of the way.
Talented sophomore Jae'Sean Tate had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Ohio State. Purdue, meanwhile, were well balanced. Five Boilermakers finished in double figures led by A.J. Hammons who had 16 points and also eight rebounds. Swanigan had a double double (10 and 10).
Purdue is now 17-3 overall, 5-2 in the Big Ten. Ohio State drops to 12-8 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten.
-Wisconsin Badgers 66, Penn State Nittany Lions 60
This game was somewhat ugly, and perhaps should be referred to as "the jump ball game." Neither team played particularly well. For example, Penn State didn't score its tenth point until nearly 13 minutes gone by. Wisconsin wants to play this way; it makes them more competitive against more talented teams, but it can get ugly.
Wisconsin led at the half 27-18. Nigel Hayes, who has struggled shooting the ball, acted more as a creator in the first half. He found Vitto Brown and Ethan Happ on a couple occasions for easier baskets.
The second half was going the way of the first, with little energy and mediocre play. Penn State, though, picked up the tempo with a little full court pressure, and suddenly the game had some life. The Nittany Lions closed to within five, after being down by double-digits nearly the entire game. The full court pressure didn't necessarily produce any turnovers, but Wisconsin uncomfortably navigated the offense after getting it across half court.
Wisconsin held on though, mostly at the free throw line. Ethan Happ led the Badgers with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Nigel Hayes was the only other Badger in double figures; he had 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting along with five assists. Penn State got 13 points from Brandon Taylor and 11 from Payton Banks.
Wisconsin moves to 11-9 overall, 3-4 in the Big Ten; Penn State is now 11-9 overall, 2-5 in the Big Ten.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 90, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 76
Not much was expected from Rutgers in this game. Iowa's been as hot as any team in the country, and Rutgers as frigid as any. The Scarlet Knights had been losing so terribly in the Big Ten; I wondered what might happen against the Hawkeyes, even though Iowa was on the road.
Rutgers surprised a little bit, and played competitively before falling by double digits. The game was tied for a bit, and Rutgers even led 30-29 at one point. Iowa closed with a 16-7 run which gave them a 45-38 lead into halftime.
Coming off a 50-point loss to Purdue, Rutgers did not fold in the second half, although Iowa held a 19-point lead at one point. Iowa finished with four in double-figures, three of which scored over 20 points: Jarrod Uthoff (20), Anthony Clemons (20) and Peter Jok (29 on 10-of-19 shooting). Rutgers also had four in double figures led by Mike Williams with 17.
Iowa drives its record to 15-3 overall, 6-0 in the Big Ten, while Rutgers falls to 6-14 overall, 0-7 in the Big Ten.