Tuesday night featured three Big Ten match-ups as Penn State, Nebraska, and Minnesota were trying to get into the win column after a win-less first week, while Indiana and Iowa were trying to improve to 3-0 in the early conference season.
Game of the Night: Penn State Nittany Lions 86, Minnesota Golden Gophers 77
Now you may be saying to yourself, "there was a one-point game, how could this possibly be GotN?" We shall get to that. This game was intriguing in the sense that the loser essentially kills its hopes of a top-10 finish in conference just a sixth of the way through the schedule.
Minnesota took a lead with 12 minutes left in the first half and pushed it to an 8-point with less than six minutes to go. Penn State answered with a 16-0 run, and secured the win as its final 10 points came via the free throw line. The Nittany Lions Payton Banks led all scorers with 24 points, as his teammates Shep Garner and Brandon Taylor chipped in 20 and 18 points respectively.
Not surprisingly in a game where both teams shot over 50-percent from the floor, Minnesota had a trio explode offensively as Joey King, Nate Mason, and Carlos Morris scored 22, 19, and 15 points respectively. The Golden Gophers do have an opportunity to get on track as they face Northwestern and Nebraska in their next two games. Penn State should enjoy this win as Michigan State and Purdue are next on the schedule.
So, yes this was a 1-point contest that was within a handful of points throughout the contest, but it was pretty un-watchable for the most part as both teams struggled to put consecutive scoring possessions together. Following the news that Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. is likely done for the year due to knee surgery, the Hoosiers offense regressed significantly. Thankfully for the Hoosiers, freshman OG Anunoby had a sort of coming out party scoring 11 points off the bench, going 3-for-3 from outside.
Yogi Ferrell led all scorers with 19 points, as Wisconsin was led by 15 points from both Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig. The Badgers are going to be undersized in most conference games this season, and that was apparent on Tuesday as Thomas Bryant scored 10 points with most of his field goals being right under the basket. Indiana improves to 3-0 and should still be favored in all games for the foreseeable future. Wisconsin falls to 1-2 with Maryland and Michigan State being two of its next three.
Iowa joined Indiana at 3-0, starting off slow falling down 12-2 early to Nebraska, before taking a lead nearly halfway through the first and never looking back. Jarrod Uthoff led the way with 25 points, with Mike Gesell not far behind with 22.The big difference in this one was the discrepancy in free throws shot and made; Iowa went 24-for-32 compared to just 9-for-16 for Nebraska.
Tai Webster scored 22 points off the bench, making up for an off night for the Cornhuskers' starters. Good news for Nebraska is that a trip to Rutgers is up next followed by games against Minnesota and Illinois, giving the Cornhuskers a chance to get back to .500 in conference.
Wednesday will have two conference games as Maryland and Ohio State both try to remain undefeated as the Terrapins host Rutgers and the Buckeyes travel to face Northwestern.