The Big Ten was active last night, with five teams in action. All five won, but all five wins were not created equal. Let’s examine each game as we approach the conclusion of the non-conference schedule.
Game of the Night:
-Ohio State Buckeyes 79, UNC Asheville Bulldogs 77
Ohio State escaped last night, for sure. The Buckeyes held a three point lead at halftime (36-33), but the Bulldogs closed the small gap in the second half. In fact, UNC Asheville led 69-67 with just under three minutes to go, which was their first lead since the opening moments.
The Bulldogs hit 45 percent from the three (11-for-24), compared to the Buckeyes 30 percent (3-for-10). For Ohio State Jae’Sean Tate and Jaquan Lyle each had 17 points.
Although a win, it wasn’t necessarily a strong close to the non-conference. But, Ohio State moves to 10-3 overall, and plays at Illinois in their Big Ten opener on January 1st.
-Indiana Hoosiers 97, Austin Peay Governors 62
No started played more than 28 minutes for Indiana, it just wasn’t necessary. The Hoosiers led 48-31 at halftime, and the margin only grew in the second half.
James Blackmon Jr. scored 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting, and Robert Johnson had 20 points. The Hoosiers shot a sterling 62 percent from the floor and 57 percent from three. Indiana is 10-2 overall, ranked 16th in the country, and takes on Nebraska in its Big Ten opener on December 28th.
-Iowa Hawkeyes 89, Delaware State Hornets 59
Indiana won by a larger margin, but perhaps this was the most lopsided game of the night. Iowa led 39-13 at one point in the first half, which is to say it wasn’t a game essentially from the start.
Peter Jok had 17 points in just 15 minutes, and Ahmad Wagner continued his strong play, scoring 12 points on 5-for-5 from the floor. Iowa is now 8-5, and maybe more than any other team tonight, needed a win like this. The Hawkeyes have won five straight now, and will take on 15th-ranked Purdue in their Big Ten opener on December 28th.
-Michigan Wolverines 68, Furman Paladins 62
The Wolverines had to work for this one a bit. Only up by six at halftime, Michigan held on to that exact lead to finish the game. Although perfect at the freethrow line (16-for-16), the Wolverines shot just 4-for-20 from three.
Moritz Wagner scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. Zak Irvin pitched in 16 points and dished seven assists for the Wolverines. Michigan is now 10-3 overall, after its final tune up in the non-conference. The team travels to Iowa for its Big Ten opener on January 1st.
-Northwestern Wildcats 72, Houston Baptist Huskies 63
Northwestern has some buzz and positive momentum this season. Many expect the Wildcats to break the NCAA Tournament streak this season. Last night, Northwestern’s resume nearly took a big hit. The Huskies actually led by 10 at halftime (35-25), and Northwestern delivered a strong second half performance to overtake the lead and win by a comfortable margin.
Scottie Lindsey scored 19 points, but needed 22 shots to get them. Sanjay Lumpkin contributed 11 points and nine rebounds to the Wildcats’s cause. Northwestern avoided the major pitfalls of their non-conference schedule, and are 11-2, only losing to Butler and Notre Dame by a combined six points. The Wildcats open Big Ten play at Penn State on December 27th.