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2/18 Big Ten Recap: Purdue Puts Themselves at the Top

Purdue is a half game on top.

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday was filled with fun as teams fighting for their spots in the Big Ten battled for action. How did the day go?

Here’s a look:

Game of the Night:

-Purdue Boilermakers 80, Michigan State Spartans 63

Purdue gained a half-game lead on Maryland and Wisconsin with its win over Michigan State on Saturday. The Spartans came out with energy, but just couldn’t keep up with a better Purdue team on the road, Plus, when Nick Ward fouled out, it was a huge hit for the team on both ends of the floor.

Caleb Swanigan tallied his 23rd (!) double-double of the season, collecting 15 rebounds and scoring 24 points on the afternoon. Vince Edwards added 12 and Issac Haas came off the bench to score 18 in the victory.

Miles Bridges scored 14 points and he was the only Michigan State starter in double-figures. Matt McQuaid came off the bench to score 11, and Alvin Ellis III scored 10 in the loss.

This would have been a huge win for Michigan State’s NCAA chances, so now, the Spartans will have to hope to upset Wisconsin next week. Additionally, Eron Harris had a knee injury midway through the game and that could impact the team going forward. He is expected to be out for a few weeks, at least.

The Rest:

-Illinois Fighting Illini 70, Iowa Hawkeyes 66

Illinois got a much-needed road win against the Hawkeyes. Iowa held a 29-25 advantage at the half, but Illinois was able to overcome it to take home the W. Peter Jok and Tyler Cook led Iowa with 16 and 14 points respectively. Outside of Nicholas Baer, Iowa’s bench struggled to produce, which hurt the Hawkeyes when they needed a boost in the second half.

On the Illinois side, Malcolm Hill was once again dominant. He scored 21 points on the night, leading all scorers. Te’Jon Lucas was next in line with 12. Michael Finke and Jalen Coleman- Lands came off the bench and also added 12 each to the final score.

Each team collected 35 rebounds, and Illinois only made 50% of its free throws. Ulitimately, it came down to who shot the ball better, and that was Illinois.

-Nebraska Cornhuskers 58, Ohio State Buckeyes 57

Nebraska showed splashes of being a great team today. Ed Morrow, Glynn Watson Jr. and Tai Webster made some great plays and did what they needed to do to upset the Buckeyes at home. Highlights from the game included this:

Nebraska won on this last-second and-one as the clock ran out.

Neither Nebraska or Ohio State had realistic NCAA hopes entering the game, but some bracketologists thought the Buckeyes should be considered a fringe contender. This loss should end those thoughts. As such, both of these teams will have to hope to make a run in the Big Ten Tournament.

- Northwestern Wildcats 69, Rutgers Scarlet Knights 65

Rutgers almost had an upset in Evanston. Northwestern didn’t score for more than 10 minutes of the second half, and that almost cost them the game.

Rutgers dominated on the offensive glass. They outrebounded Northwestern 39-31 in the paint and collected 22 offensive rebounds compared to Northwestern’s 9. Rutgers collected 21 defensive rebounds, which prevented Northwestern from getting many of the second-chance points they usually do. Corey Sanders and Nijel Johnson dominated on the offensive end, scoring a combined 33 points. C.J. Gettys and Eugene Omoruyi also helped Rutgers by adding 10 points each.

Northwestern’s defense was not as strong as it has been in the past few games, and that allowed for Rutgers to cause damage on the offensive end. The last 8 minutes, Northwestern made a push to win the game, and ultimately it came down to their ability to hit free throws down the stretch.

With 2:03 to go, Gavin Skelly hit a three-point shot to bring the game within one. Then, after a missed three by Vic Law, and an offensive rebound by Isiah Brown, Bryant McIntosh did this:

and with free throw shots down the stretch, the Wildcats pulled away for the key victory at home. It won’t look huge on paper, but it saved the team from a massive, massive RPI hit at home. As such, Wildcat fans can likely start prepping for the team’s upcoming NCAA Tournament appearance.