As the end of non-conference play nears, a few tournaments remain for the Big Ten with crucial wins to be had. Purdue started off the day with exactly that.
Game of The Day:
-Purdue 86, Notre Dame 81
Coming in to the Crossroads Classic having never won a game, Purdue did just that. The Boilermakers overcame a 17 point deficit behind Caleb Swanigan’s 26 points on 11-19 shooting. Vince Edwards was a nice boost off the bench, adding 20 points on 7-12 shooting. The Boilermakers shot 46% in the paint and 38% beyond the arc, but used their size and defense down the stretch to take down the Fighting Irish
-Illinois 75, BYU 73
Saved by a last second three by Nick Emery that didn’t go in, the Illini survived the Cougars in a thrilling game. Tracy Abrams lead the Illini with 15 points. He was one of three starters that scored double figures. Jalen Coleman-Lands and Malcom Hill followed right behind him with 12 and 10 points respectively. Maverick Morgan and Michael Finke gave Illinois a huge boost off the bench, adding 24 to 75 points. Tracy Abrams made the difference with smart plays down the stretch. He scored, he played defense, and he showed the Cougars he knew how to win. He stretched the Illini lead to 5 with a clutch bucket in transition to force BYU to start fouling Illini players in order to keep the game within reach.
John Groce showed that his team is the middle-of-the-road in the Big Ten. They closed out on a great non-conference resume builder and finished what Northwestern started in the inaugural Legends Classic at the United Center.
-No. 18 Butler 83, No. 9 Indiana 79
Well, that was fun!
Purdue’s dramatic win over Notre Dame in the front end of the Crossroads Classic seemed to be a safe pick for game of the day early on, but the Hoosiers and Bulldogs definitely stated their case, and then some.
Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr. and Butler’s Kelan Martin put on a show in this game, posting 26 and 28 points, respectively. Early on, this game was about as tight as can be; each team matching buckets for the first 10 minutes of the game. That would not last, however. The Bulldogs exploded offensively, closing the half on a 10-0 run. They took a 42-28 lead into the half, sparked primarily by Martin, who scored 16 points in 17 first half minutes.
This game never had the feel of a blowout, though. Even though the Bulldogs held large leads at several different points throughout the game, the intensity was sky high on both sides, and it was only a matter of time before Indiana would make a run.
And they did.
Behind Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant, who had himself a nice 15 point, 7 rebound performance of his own, the Hoosiers dug themselves out of an 11-point hole, to make it 79-77 with 36 seconds left to play. The Bulldogs answered immediately, though, with a highlight jam by Tyler Wideman. From there, Butler was able to put it away and secure their first win over the Hoosiers since they met in 2012.
All in all, the 2016 Crossroads Classic was pretty, ahem, lit.
-Iowa 69, UNI 46
Iowa absolutely dominated Northern Iowa, running away with a 69-46 win. Iowa never gave Northern Iowa a chance in the game. Iowa’s defense really stepped up and won the game. Peter Jok had another outstanding day. He scored 21 points on 9-15 shooting and he was a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc.
Nick Baer had a nice day off the bench, adding 11 points to the Hawkeyes dominate performance. Despite having a tough day of shooting on the court, Jordan Bohannon dished out 6 assists and had 6 points on the day. Bohannon has been great as a starter when he’s been called on this season.
-Michigan 98, Maryland-Eastern Shore 49
Zak Irvin got the scoring going for the Wolverines with a 3-pointer….and that was about as close as this one ever got. Michigan had their way all game long, and they were able to run away from the visiting Hawks without much resistance.
As alluded to in the preview, we felt that this would be the game where we’d see plenty of experimentation from Beilein. It turned out that we did not have to wait very long to see that come to fruition. Michigan started Duncan Robinson in place of Muhammad Ali Abdur Rahkman at the 2, opting for the former’s offense over the latter’s defense. That did not last for very long, as MAAR was brought in pretty quickly, but it could be something to look out for as Big Ten season approaches.
Additionally, Jon Teske logged a season high 8 minutes in this game, registering 2 blocks as well. The 7’1 freshman will be called upon to spell Michigan’s top 2 big men, Mo Wagner and Mark Donnal, should they find themselves in foul trouble. So every minute Beilein can find for Teske in the non-conference slate becomes crucial moving forward. How comfortable he can become as his role on this team increases might be one of the keys to Michigan’s success this season, as well as in the future.
The Wolverines will close out their non-conference schedule with a Thursday night game against Furman at Crisler.
UPDATE: well this explains a lot….LOL
Beilein says Robinson starting over MAAR was a clerical error. Someone logged Robinson in as starter by mistake.— Brandon Carney (@br_carney) December 17, 2016
-Northwestern 67, Dayton 64
This game was a tale of two halves. Northwestern was up 40-17 at the half, and it looked as though it would be strong enough to hold on to. But Dayton’s 14% shooting on 4-28 from the floor quickly changed in the second half. The Flyers came back to shoot 52% in the second half, compared to Northwestern’s 27%. Dayton slowly chewed away shot by shot in the second half as the ‘Cats went cold on offense and turned it over. Bryant McIntosh showed his strength in close games, hitting a jumper with one minute to go to give the Wildcats a 61-55 edge. He also hit two free throws in the final seconds to seal the win.
Sanjay Lumpkin got a little sloppy with fouls at the end, but he had a double-double. He collected 14 rebounds and had 14 points, including a three. His three- streak continues and his offense has really boosted the ‘Cats.
Nathan Taphorn continues to impress in place of Aaron Falzon. He went 3-4 from three and had a layup off of an offensive rebound late in the first half. He also showed his defense when he forced Dayton in to an offensive foul. He even walked away from this shot before it went in.
The ‘Cats got the resume win they needed tonight. If Northwestern plays like this through conference play, could the Big Dance be calling?
-No. 2 UCLA 86, Ohio State 73
No, Ohio State was never going to win that game. UCLA is SO. DAMN. GOOD. They are really good. The Bruins shot a season low 32.3% from downtown; did not matter. When they don’t get the type of production they usually do from outside, they turn to T.J Leaf to find easy baskets. When Lonzo Ball only scores 8 points on 3-8 from the field, they turn to sophomore Aaron Holiday who chipped in 20 points off the bench. To make a long story short, not many teams are going to beat UCLA and you can expect to see them in the Final Four.
With that said: hey, nice game, Buckeyes! Unlike the Bruins’ game against Michigan, UCLA never really ran away from Ohio State. I am well aware that the margin of victory was 13, but it is also very much worth noting that UCLA was only up 3 at the half, and OSU had the game within 6 with 8 minutes to play. The Buckeyes never allowed UCLA to completely blow the game wide open, which is an accomplishment against that team. Marc Loving fell just one point shy of tying his season-high of 20 points, and Keita Bates-Diop chipped in 13 points off the bench.
This loss definitely won’t be held against the Buckeyes come tourney selection time. Now, they’ll turn their attention to their last 2 tuneups before Big Ten season, with Youngstown State and UNC-Asheville come to town.
Do not let Saturday’s score fool you, though. The Buckeyes absolutely hung with a team that has proven to be nearly impossible to hang with.
An almost perfect Saturday ended with great thrillers and nice resume wins. Non-conference play will begin it’s final stretch this upcoming week. If we learned one thing about today, it’s that judging by Illinois, Ohio State and Northwestern, the middle of the Big Ten is going to be very close this year.