Three conference games were played in the Big Ten featuring two ranked teams. In Bloomington, a late Indiana run served as the deciding factor in a Hoosier win. James Palmer Jr. did everything he could to will Nebraska to a upset win in Columbus over the Buckeyes while Michigan State had beat not only Illinois but also themselves in a double digit win.
Let’s take a look at Monday’s action in Big Ten hoops.
Game Of The Night:
-Indiana Hoosiers 71, Maryland Terrapins 68
After a no-show in East Lansing Friday night, Juwan Morgan willed the Indiana Hoosiers to a three-point victory against the Terrapins. Morgan finished with 25 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two blocks to lead Indiana.
After a Darryl Morsell free throw gave Maryland a 62-57 lead with four minutes remaining, the Hoosiers outscored the visiting Terrapins 14-6 throughout the remainder of the game. Morgan was the offensive catalyst for Indiana during the run, scoring 10 of the 14 points.
Morgan was joined in double figures by fellow starters Justin Smith and Robert Johnson who added 12 points each.
13 minutes into the game, the Hoosiers took a 14-7 lead. Maryland responded with an 11-4 run over the next two minutes to take their first lead since their first made field goal. The rest of the first 20 minutes was a back and forth affair with Indiana going into the break with a 42-39 lead.
Maryland was led by Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter who scored a team high 18 points and 16 points respectively. Jared Nickens also added 12 points off the bench. Their ultimate downfall was the lack of production from Joshua Tomaic and Michal Cekovsky who were held scoreless.
With the victory, Indiana improved to 12-8 on the year and 5-3 in conference play. Maryland dropped to 15-7 on the season and 4-5 in Big Ten Play.
-No. 6 Michigan State Spartans 87, Illinois Fighting Illini 74
Despite turning the ball over 25 times, the most since 2005, the Michigan State Spartans held off a late Illinois run for 87-74 victory thanks to a shooting night for the record books.
The Spartans finished shooting 68 percent from the field, the most for Michigan State since 2004 and the most ever for a visiting team at Illinois. Most of that production came from stars Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. who were nothing short of sensational. Bridges finished with a game high 31 points on 11-13 shooting from the field. Jackson Jr. added 21 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and recording six blocks.
Michigan State had to fight their way to a 39-32 lead into the half after dealing with 20 minutes of gritty Illinois defense that cause the Spartans all sorts of problems. Michigan State struggled to move the ball with Illini guards in their face and thus led to an absurd amount of turnovers, eight of them coming from Cassius Winston. However, the downside to Illinois’s uptight defense was that they were susceptible to big plays in the paint thanks to backdoor passes. Michigan State guards consistently threw lobs up to the likes of Bridges, Jackson Jr., and Nick Ward who consistently found holes in the Illini defense.
Illinois finished with three players in double figures, none more impressive than Kipper Nichols. If Nichols had not had his coming out part yet this year, it was no doubt on Monday night when he scored a team high 27 points......off the bench. Trent Frazier and Leron Black added 13 and 12 points respectively.
Other than the turnovers, Michigan State appears to be back where they were before the losses against Ohio State and Michigan. They improved to 18-3 on the year and 6-2 in conference play with the win. On the other hand, Illinois once again fights to end just add another game into the losing column. Following the defeat, the Illini fell to 0-8 in Big Ten play and 10-11 overall.
-No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes 64, Nebraska Cornhuskers 59
After only leading by two at the break, Keita Bates-Diop and the Ohio State Buckeyes turned it on the second half to pull away from the Nebraska Cornhuskers for a five point win.
Bates-Diop scored a team high 20 points for the Buckeyes with 14 of them coming in the crucial second half. He was joined in double figures by Jae’Sean Tate, Kaleb Wesson, and C.J. Jackson who scored 17 points, 12 points, and 12 points respectively.
The final 20 minutes in Columbus was a back and forth affair with seven lead changes. With two minutes remaining, James Palmer Jr. hit two free-throws to draw within four points at 60-56. They did not get any closer.
Palmer Jr. was no doubt the most impressive player from either team Monday night. He finished the game with a game high 34 points on 11-18 shooting from the field. Five of those shots came from behind the arc. However, no other Nebraska player finished in double figures.
Both teams struggled to shoot the ball, especially from three-point range with the Cornhuskers finishing 27 percent from behind the arc while the Buckeyes finished an abysmal 14 percent on 2-14 shooting from three-point range.
With the victory Ohio State remains perfect in conference play at 9-0 while improving to 18-4 overall. Nebraska could not follow up their drubbing of Michigan with a second consecutive upset and fell to 5-4 in Big Ten play and 14-8 on the year following the loss.