Only two Big Ten teams were in action Friday night as Illinois and Penn State played in two compelling matchups. The Illini took on DePaul for the first time since 1957 while the Nittany Lions had to pull away from Columbia late.
Let’s take a look at how the two Big Ten teams fared Friday night.
Game Of The Night
For the second straight year Illinois began the season 3-0 by getting to that mark with a victory against in-state rival DePaul on Friday night
Mark Smith, one of the most highly touted freshman in the Big Ten, scored a career-high 21 points to lead the Illini. Smith finished the game 4-10 from the field and 12-12 from the charity stripe. Kipper Nichols added 16 points to tie his career high and was a crucial piece in a late 9-2 run by the Illini.
The Illini struggled to hit shots from behind the arc, going 5 of 23 from 3-point range, and shot just 42% from the field.
Justin Roberts’s career-high 19 points kept the Blue Demons in the game as DePaul went on an 11-2 run with 14 minutes remaining to trail by only two at 49-47. However, Illinois followed with a 9-2 run of their own and the Blue Demons would never get closer. Nichols scored the final seven points of the run.
The Illini defense did an outstanding job by shutting down DePaul’s leading scorer Tre’Darius McCollum, who is averaging 15 points per game this season, to a zero points in 22 minutes.
Illinois (3-0) will return to the hardwood Sunday afternoon when they host Marshall.
DePaul (1-2) will have a week off before traveling to Portland where they will play #2 Michigan State in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational.
In a tightly played game of runs, Penn State used a 14-0 run with 12 minutes remaining to pull away late in the second half against Columbia and keep their regular season record unblemished.
After trailing early in the first half, the Nittany Lions went on a 22-3 run. Columbia followed with a 12-4 run of their own to go into the half trailing by only three points at 38-35.
Penn State was short handed in the game with Josh Reaves and Tony Carr missing the game with ankle injuries. That forced the Nittany Lions to need more production from Shep Garner. Garner responded by leading all scorers with a game high 26 points.
Garner did have support from his other teammates as four other Nittany Lions scored in double figures (Lamar Stevens 14, Watkins 11, Nazeer Bostick and Satchel Pierce with 10).
Watkins was the enforcer for the Nittany Lions during their 14-0 run where he recorded seven points and four rebounds during that span. In total he grabbed 14 boards to record a double-double.
Penn State (4-0) returns to action Monday night when they travel to Brooklyn to take on in-state rival Pittsburgh in the Legends Classic.
Columbia (1-2) will play their next game Tuesday night when they travel to take on Army West Point.