The pre-season tournaments roll on, even Thanksgiving can’t stop their momentum. Michigan State took on Baylor in the Battle 4 Atlantis semis, Illinois met West Virginia in the NIT Season Tip-off and later in the evening, Nebraska played Dayton in the DirecTV Wooden Legacy.
Let’s take a look at how the game’s played out.
Game of the Night:
-(20) Baylor Bears 73, (24) Michigan State Spartans 58
Michigan State’s youth, coupled with a challenging non-conference schedule, means they’ve been a bit up-and-down this year. (The Spartans have played three ranked opponents already, losing to them all. In fact, Tom Izzo went so far as to apologize to his team for the brutal schedule. It hasn’t been just about the opponents, but also the grueling travel.)
Against the Bears, Michigan State took a 33-30 lead into halftime, but were obliterated in the second. The game was tied at 35 with a bit over 17 minutes left. From that moment, Baylor outscored the Spartans 38-23.
Johnathan Motley, for Baylor, had 26 points to lead all scorers. Michigan State freshman Miles Bridges, who’s averaging 17.2 PPG, was the only Spartan in double-figures with 15 points (7-for-11 from the field). The other four Michigan State starters combined to score just 18 points.
The Spartans fall to 3-3 overall, and the tough schedule continues. Michigan State plays sixth-ranked Duke on Tuesday night (ESPN).
-(19) West Virginia Mountaineers 89, Illinois Fighting Illini 57
Illinois led 9-7 with not quite three minutes gone by in the first half, and that would be the last time they’d have a lead. Off to a pretty good start, clearly West Virginia is a class (or two) above Illinois at this point.
With the game essentially over at halftime (49-28), the Mountaineers only extended lead (by 13) over the final 20 minutes.
For Illinois, Mike Thorne Jr. (12 points) and Michael Finke (13 points) were the only two in double-figures. More frustratingly, the Fighting Illini turned the ball over 24 times, which led to 18 Mountaineer fast break points. (Meanwhile West Virginia only had six turnovers.)
Illinois falls to 4-2 overall on the season, and plays #25 Florida State today on ESPNU.
-Nebraska Cornhuskers 80, Dayton Flyers 78
Nebraska held off a late Dayton push to advance in the first round of the Wooden Legacy tournament. The Flyers led 78-77 very late, but two Glynn Watson Jr. freethrows put the Cornhuskers up for good.
Dayton was hot from three last night, making over 40 percent from beyond the arc (10-for-24), but Nebraska made just enough plays to keep them at bay.
Three Nebraska startes scored in double-figures, shooting a combined 21-for-32 from the field. Watson Jr. led all scorers with 20 points, and Ed Morrow and Tai Webster pitched in 19 and 16 points respectively. (Morrow also had 10 rebounds, for his first double-double of the season.)
The Cornhuskers are now 4-0 overall on the young season, and are getting production from the younger talent on the roster, which must be encouraging for Tim Miles. Nebraska next plays the winner of Portland and UCLA in the Wooden Legacy. But, it also has looming back-to-back games against 12th-ranked Creighton and 5th-ranked Kansas. So, the non-conference will get significantly more challenging for Nebraska.