The first weekend of college basketball came to an end with a healthy helping of Big Ten hoops on Sunday, as five teams played their second game of the weekend while Nebraska tipped off its season.
Michigan Wolverines 77, IUPUI Jaguars 65
The Wolverines jumped out to a double digit lead in the first half and never needed to look back on their way to 2-0 on the early season.
Four of Michigan’s five starters scored in double figures led by Zak Irvin’s 15 points. Darrell Combs IUPUI kept the game competitive with 22 points, but the Jags could not overcome starters Ron Patterson and Evan Hall scoring a combined 5 points on 2-of-13 shooting.
Michigan’s schedule picks up from here for the next couple weeks as five of its’ next seven contests are against Power 5 schools.
Illinois Fighting Illini 79, Northern Kentucky Norse 64
Despite the final score, this was a dogfight for the Illini throughout. The Norse actually held a two point lead at halftime.
Senior guard Malcolm Hill did everything in his power to make sure the Illini would not suffer an embarrassing early season loss at home, by dropping 40 points, 30 more than the next leading scorer on the team.
Hopefully the Illini don’t have to rely on that kind of productivity regularly to win games this season.
Penn State Nittany Lions 82, Duquesne Dukes 74
Penn State was one of just two Big Ten teams to suffer a loss in the opening weekend, (the other being Michigan State). The Nittany Lions bounced back from Friday’s loss to Albany.
The Dukes put up their dukes on Sunday, coming back from four points down at halftime to retake the lead in the second half. Penn State would take the lead just past the halfway point in the second 20 minutes and were able to stave off the Dukes from there.
The freshmen showed why there is at least optimism in Happy Valley moving forward as Lamar Stevens scored a game-high 24 and Tony Carr was not far behind with 20.
Iowa Hawkeyes 116, Savannah State Tigers 84
(Fans of defensive basketball, avert your eyes.)
Iowa had very little chill on Sunday, nearly dropping a 60-spot in both halves of this one. Brady Ellingson was the leading scorer for Iowa, coming off the bench and scoring 23 points in 17 minutes of action.
The Hawkeyes starters averaged just 17 minutes on the floor as 12 players saw at least 10 minutes of game time. We’ll see if they can keep up the offensive firepower (the Hawkeyes scored 91 in the season opener), as three of the next four are against power conference schools.
Nebraska Cornhuskers 83, Sacramento State Hornets 61
Glenn Watson Jr. scored a career-high 23 points in a game where Sacramento State hung around in the first half before Nebraska’s superiority took over in the second. The Hornets were down just 3 at the break but the Cornhuskers outscored them 47-28 in the second half.
Tai Webster chipped in 20 oh his own as four starters finished in double figures, with only 9 bench points needed. The Cornhuskers were the last team in conference who had yet to play entering Sunday.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights 87, Drexel Dragons 66
Hey Rutgers fans, the football team isn’t good, but at least the basketball team is undefeated. So, enjoy this while it lasts. Rutgers cruised on Sunday, getting help from the bench in the form of 32 points.
Jonathan Laurent and Nigel Johnson led the way with 15 points each and lifting the Scarlet Knights to a 2-0 start. They join Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa at that mark after the first weekend.
So the first weekend of college basketball is officially in the books, and the Big Ten escaped with just a couple of scratches.