There were three games on the Big Ten slate Sunday, with a few games featuring teams still fighting to stay near the top of contention in the conference.
Here’s how the Sunday games went down:
Game of the Day:
The Purdue Boilermakers jumped on the Nebraska Cornhuskers early in this game with the three ball, making four threes in the early minutes as they built a lead that got up to nine points at 18-9 in the first 10 minutes. However, things changed quickly as the Nebraska Cornhuskers, coming in on a five game losing streak, showed some impressive resilience and mounted a run that took them to the locker room with a 39-33 lead.
The Cornhuskers did a masterful job for much of the game of doubling down in the past as soon as star big man Caleb Swanigan caught the ball for Purdue down low. On multiple occasions, they forced Swanigan into either taking a very difficult shot or turning the ball over.
Purdue came out in the second half looking like one of the top 20 teams in America and five minutes into the second half, what was a six point deficit was a two point lead for the Boilers. Give the Cornhuskers a lot of credit, however, for sticking with it. It would have been easy for them to pack it in and call it a day, but they continued to fight. Jack Mcveigh was a huge factor, equaling a career high 21 points off the bench in 33 minutes while spreading the floor in going 4-6 from the three point line.
Purdue had a lead in the final minutes, and continually went to their National Player of the Year candidate Caleb Swanigan and with under a minute left, a Swanigan turnover led to a tip in by Michael Jacobson that put Nebraska up for a good and as a Dakota Matthias three at the buzzer went off iron, Nebraska secured another conference upset.
The loss drops Purdue to 17-5 overall and 6-3 in the conference, while Nebraska improved to 10-11 overall and 4-5 in the conference.
In a battle for the state of Michigan, Tom Izzo and his Spartans came out on top on what was, as usual, a hard fought game both ways. Freshman sensation Miles Bridges for the Michigan State Spartans finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but shot only 7-17 from the floor. There weren’t many highly efficient performances in this game, Michigan Wolverines guard Derrick Walton Jr. finished with an impressive 24 points and 9 assists, but shot only 4-12. However, he did convert on 14 of his 15 free throw attempts.
Zak Irvin struggled mightily for the Wolverines, finishing 0-8 from the floor with zero points, two rebounds and two assists. Of course, it’s going to be hard for any team in the conference to win with one of their key players struggling like that. Nick Ward had an efficient outing going 6-6 from the floor for 13 points, though he was limited to 16 minutes on the court.
The win improves the Spartans to 13-9 overall and 5-4 in the conference while the loss drops their rival Wolverines to 14-8 overall and 4-5 in the conference.
It now seems overwhelmingly likely that the Northwestern Wildcats will be selected to the first NCAA Tournament appearance in the history of the program following a win over the Indiana Hoosiers. Of course, the Hoosiers came into Evanston very short handed after losing scoring sensation James Blackmon Jr. indefinitely to a lower leg injury against Michigan on Thursday night.
Bryant McIntosh once again led the Wildcats attack and finished with 21 points and eight assists in a game that wasn’t an offensive beauty by either side. Thomas Bryant led the Indiana Hoosiers with 23 points and 12 rebounds, though the team struggled overall and shot only 32% from the floor overall. Northwestern had a modest night from the floor, shooting 41% overall.
In a fairly low scoring game, turnovers against hurt the Hoosiers, losing the turnover battle 13-7 to Northwestern. It seems it may be time to begin a sort of celebration for the Wildcats, with the win improving them to 18-4 overall and 7-2 in the conference. The loss drops the Hoosiers to 14-8 overall and 4-5 in the conference.