There were four games on the Big Ten slate on Monday featuring the Wisconsin Badgers, Ohio State Buckeyes, Northwestern Wildcats and the Illinois Fighting Illini. Wisconsin was looking to move on in the Maui Invitational, Northwestern was looking to pick up a nice non-conference win to their resume while the Buckeyes and Fighting Illini were just looking to hold home court and get better.
Let’s take a look at how the games on Monday unfolded.
Game of the Night
-Wisconsin 74, Tennessee 62
A 12 point final margin doesn’t tell the whole tale of how close this game was for much of the afternoon. A 2:30PM Eastern time start, the Badgers jumped on top early 12-0 and went on to take a 26-9 lead on a Bronson Koenig three pointer nine minutes into the first half. With their backs up against the wall, a young Tennessee team fought back to be down only eight at halftime.
Tennessee came out firing in the second half, going on a quick 8-0 run to take the lead and make it a 42-40 game. Wisconsin was now pushed with its back up against the wall. However, the veteran Badgers would respond with plays from their veteran leaders. With the game then tied at 46, Nigel Hayes followed a blocked layup and got fouled, going to the line and making both free throws. Less than 30 seconds later, Hayes trailed down the court in the secondary break and made a three from the right wing to make it 51-46, and the Badgers finally had a firm grip on the game.
The closest that Tennessee would get was three points from then on and Wisconsin went on to win behind 21 points from Bronson Koenig and 17 points and 10 rebounds from Nigel Hayes. The Badgers improved to 3-1 on the season.
-Winthrop 84, Illinois 80 (OT)
For those of you who closed your ESPN3 broadcast of this game, telling yourself that the Illini had finished the game and improved to 5-0, you must have forgotten about 5’7” senior guard Deon Johnson of the Winthrop Eagles. Winthrop hung around and was only down four points at the half, but Illinois extended it out to a ten point lead with just over three minutes to play.
The game should have been over, but two offensive fouls in the last 3 minutes gave Winthrop life and Deon Johnson scored 7 of the last 10 to force overtime. Illinois had lost all momentum and would go on to have a victory snatched from their grip and lose at home, 84-80.
Deon Johnson finished with 38 points against the Illini, who were led by Michael Finke who finished with 18 points. The Illini fell to 4-1 on the season.
-Northwestern 77, Texas 58
The Northwestern Wildcats picked up a really nice non-conference win against a talented and well coached Texas team in the Legends Classic, and did it in a rather dominant fashion.
The Wildcats jumped out to an 11-0 lead over the Longhorns and from then on, Texas was playing catch up. They actually did manage to take the lead back 23-22, but Northwestern responded nicely to take a 34-26 lead into the locker room at halftime. The second half was all Northwestern as they widened the gap, outscoring Texas 43-32 to finish off the Longhorns and improve to 3-1 on the season. Bryant McIntosh led the way with 20 points for the Wildcats.
-Ohio State 66, Western Carolina 38
As you might expect, this was less than competitive. Though the Buckeyes over the past years have shown signs of inconsistency, that was nowhere to be seen last night.
It was a thorough domination by the Buckeyes, holding Western Carolina to 27.5% from the field. However, the free throw shooting woes did continue for Ohio State as they only shot 62.5% from the charity stripe, so Thad Matta does have something to turn him red in the face.
JaQuan Lyle led the way for the now 4-0 Ohio State Buckeyes with 17 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.