Conference road wins are always difficult to come by, as was shown by Michigan State on Sunday in Columbus. Tuesday night, three teams had chances to pick up road wins to boost some hopes of postseason play.
It was a night of close games, so let’s take a look at how the action turned out and what keys led to each result.
Game of the Night:
-No. 5 Purdue Boilermakers 70, Michigan Wolverines 69
In a game that featured just about everything you could ask for in a basketball game, from individual plays to team efforts to questionable calls by the adored Big Ten officiating crew, Purdue salvaged a one point road victory on the road in Ann Arbor.
For the first time in the career of any current Boilermaker, Purdue has left Ann Arbor as the victors, led by Carsen Edwards and Isaac Haas. Carsen Edwards finished with 19, leading the Boilermakers in scoring. Isaac Haas had a nice game, especially in the first half, and finished with 17 points.
Haas did score the most important point of the game, going 1-2 from the free throw line after a foul was called on Moritz Wagner on an inbound pass to the Purdue big man with under five seconds left. The foul and ensuing free throws only took place following the officiating crew overturning an out-of-bounds call that was originally ruled Michigan ball, but it was determined that the ball was last touched by Michigan.
Purdue led the game by seven at halftime, and was tested at every turn in the second half. Zavier Simpson and Charles Matthews led Michigan with 15 and 14 points respectively, while Moritz Wagner, who killed Purdue last year in Ann Arbor a season ago, finished with 11 points on 5-11 shooting.
The Purdue Boilermakers have now won 13 games in a row, while the Michigan loss snapped their seven game winning streak. Purdue will travel to Minneapolis on Saturday to face Minnesota while the Wolverines will travel to East Lansing to face their in-state rival, the Michigan State Spartans.
-Penn State Nittany Lions 70, Indiana Hoosiers 74
While the final score was only a four point margin, it never really did feel like Penn State was going to crawl out of the hole that they had dug for themselves. With a four point lead at halftime, the Hoosiers did stretch it out into double digits in the second half.
Despite a deficit that reached as high as 11 points in the second half, credit the Nittany Lions for refusing to give up. This is a talented Penn State team that has had some bright moments this season, albeit along with some not so bright moments, and they were looking for a nice conference road win.
Penn State was, however, playing without Josh Reaves, who is out due to academic issues. Lamar Stevens stepped up, though mostly in the first half, with 20 points overall, 16 of those coming in the first half. Tony Carr also had a big game with 28 while shooting 9-20 from the field.
Juwan Morgan continued to lead the way for the Indiana Hoosiers with 21 points and 11 rebounds as Archie Miller’s team simply found a way to win at home against a scrappy and frankly more talented team.
The Indiana Hoosiers will host Northwestern on Sunday, while the Nittany Lions will host Nebraska on Friday evening.
-Wisconsin Badgers 59, Nebraska Cornhuskers 63
On an odd night for ‘Nebrasketball’, the Cornhuskers actually managed to come out with a win despite Glynn Waston Jr. finishing with 3 points on 0-6 shooting, scoring all three of his points from the charity stripe.
They managed to pull out the home win because of James Palmer Jr. and Isaac Copeland, the other two pieces of the three headed monster, combining for 28 points.
Ethan Happ had a game typical of the narrative, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds but finishing 1-6 from the free throw line. In a four point loss, in a road game where free throw attempts are hard to come by to start with, each one needs to be treated with the utmost importance.
It’s a cliche, and it’s overplayed (especially by me at times), but this game really was decided at the free throw line. Wisconsin shot 4-10 from the charity stripe, while Nebraska took advantage and went 21-28, outscoring the Badgers by 17 from the foul line.
Needless to say, if you’re looking for how Nebraska shot 2-14 from three point range and made five fewer field goals than Wisconsin and won the game, the answer is at the free throw line.
Nebraska continues to be a surprise, and will face Penn State on the road Friday, while Wisconsin will look to get back over .500 on the road against Purdue next Tuesday.