The Big Ten certainly had the opportunity to flex its prowess over a batch of lesser opponents on Thursday, but it terms of electrifying competition, the night fell flat. The conference won by an average of nearly 35 points, stomping the opposition.
Of the six teams to face the Big Ten, all but Tennessee Tech were ranked No. 200 or higher on KenPom – and Tennessee Tech squeaked in at No. 199.
Game of the Night:
-Minnesota Golden Gophers 77, Oral Roberts Golden Eagles 63
Normally, a 14-point victory against an under matched opponent would not land in the spotlight slot of the recap. But given that it was by the far the closest of the Big Ten’s six games, it takes the headlining spot by default.
Oral Roberts came into the contest with a definitive strategy to limit the interior dominance the Gophers present in Jordan Murphy and Reggie Lynch. The Golden Eagles settled into a zone, forcing Minnesota to rely on outside shots. If the zone was penetrated, Oral Roberts fouled – a lot.
For a while, the plan was effective. The Gophers settled into the three-point shot (unsuccessfully), and Minnesota possessed just a four-point lead heading into the half. All said, the team took 19 threes, connecting on just six of them.
In the second half though, Minnesota’s physicality and ability to attack the rim wore down the Golden Eagles. The Gophers finished with 28 shots from the stripe, connecting on 82 percent of the attempts.
As usual, Jordan Murphy lead the way for Richard Pitino’s squad, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, securing yet another double-double.
-Indiana Hoosiers 87, Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 59
The Indiana Hoosiers early struggles were sure signs of a reeling team. Inside the first five minutes of their contest with the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, the Hoosiers missed a layup, a dunk, airballed a free throw and three pointer, and turned the ball over on a routine entry post pass.
Luckily for Archie Miller, his team settled down and took care of business. The Hoosiers loosened up as the game wore on, and the frequency of transition runouts increased. The results were Indiana free throws, crowd injecting dunks, and wide-open shots from deep.
Senior guard Josh Newkirk successfully dictated pace, leading the way for the Hoosiers with 20 points, six assists, and four rebounds.
-Maryland Terrapins 75, Fairleigh Dickinson Knights 50
The contest may have been tight early, but the Maryland Terrapins dismantled Fairleigh Dickinson behind an eight minute, 24-0 run in the first half. They entered the half with a 46 to 23 advantage and simply cruised to a victory.
Maryland was not free of slipups, however. The Knights secured 18 offensive rebounds and generated 17 turnovers.
The Terrapins displayed a balanced attack, with six players scoring in double figures. Anthony Cowan and Darryl Morsell led the way with 13 points each.
-Michigan Wolverines 97, Alabama A&M Bulldogs 47
Winless and ranked No. 349 out of 351 teams, Alabama A&M never stood a chance. Though they stuck with Michigan throughout the first five minutes, it did not take long for the Wolverines to pull away.
Charles Matthews lit up the scoreboard, pouring in 31 points on 12 of 15 shooting. Michigan shot 60 percent from the floor. Defensively, the Wolverines harassed the Bulldogs, generating 23 turnovers and holding them to under 35 percent shooting.
-Michigan State Spartans 102, Long Beach State 49ers 60
Michigan State took care of business at home against a team they should have beat. A tight contest early quickly turned into a rout, as the Spartans turn a 16-point halftime lead into a 42-point victory.
Interestingly, sophomore standout Miles Bridges still logged 31 minutes. The forward finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds, leading the way for the Spartans.
-Purdue Boilermakers 97, Tennessee State Tigers 48
Simply put, the Boilermakers pounded the Tigers in every facet of the game. Early steals led to easy points and open threes, which Purdue connected on at a 57.7 percent clip. Purdue generated 17 turnovers, and assisted on 25 of their 34 made field goals. Carsen Edwards dazzled, scoring 26 points on an efficient 10 of 14 shooting.