Thursday’s slate of games provided plenty of entertainment as the Big Ten had two Gavitt Tipoff Games and two early season tournament games. With Ohio State’s victory over Creighton the Big Ten will finally win the Gavitt Games after the Big Ten and Big East split the series the first three years.
That being said, even with Ohio State and Iowa both adding impressive wins, the best game of the night was the Big Ten’s only loss this Thursday.
Game of the Night
DePaul Blue Demons 72, Penn State Nittany Lions 70 (OT)
Iowa upset the 13th ranked team in the country, Ohio State added an impressive win over Creighton in the Gavitt Tipoff Games and Purdue hung up 92 points. But at the end of the day the best game of the night was the Nittany Lions falling to lowly DePaul on the road.
Penn State has seemingly been stuck in a sort of purgatory under Pat Chambers, remaining competitive but never being capable of getting over the hump. After a four season run where the Nittany Lions won 16, 18, 16 and 15 games, last season Penn State won 26 games and the NIT and were hoping to make the jump back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.
Losing to a DePaul team that hasn’t won more than 12 games in a season since 2007 is not a good look. And for what it’s worth, the last time Penn State won the NIT (in 2009) they followed that with a 11-20 season before bouncing back the following year with their most recent NCAA Tournament appearance.
Early on Penn State had no problem with the Blue Demons, opening up a 11-0 lead by the first media timeout. DePaul hung around and eventually clawed their way to a five point halftime lead before a back and forth second half. DePaul opened up a 68-58 lead with 3:41 to go but couldn’t score a point the rest of the second half. The Blue Demons offense went cold at the worst time, not making a basket the last 8:09 of the half.
It also didn’t help that DePaul was seemingly dumbfounded by how to handle any pressure Penn State applied in the closing minutes. Luckily for DePaul, Lamar Stevens only split a pair of free throws with 26 seconds and Rasir Bolton’s steal in the closing seconds ended with a missed layup at the buzzer.
The overtime period was...something. DePaul’s jumper on their first possession was the only made field goal of the extra period, with DePaul outscoring Penn State 4-2 in the last five minutes. Penn State had the ball under the rim for an inbound pass and got a good look from Myles Dread but couldn’t convert, falling to DePaul by two. DePaul made one field goal over the last 13 minutes and still won.
Penn State never found much success on offense, shooting 39.1% from the field and 10 of 30 from three. Lamar Stevens led the Lions with 25 points, while Myles Dread scored 19 and Josh Reaves added 13. Past that, though, the rest of the roster only added 13 points, with freshman Rasir Bolton having a dreadful 0 for 10 shooting night.
Things won’t get much easier for Penn State, either. Following a home game against Wright State the Nittany Lions will have to host Virginia Tech in the Big Ten / ACC Challenge before starting Big Ten play against Maryland and Iowa. There’s also a neutral site game against North Carolina State and a road trip to Alabama. Losing to DePaul was definitely something Penn State couldn’t afford early in the season.
Iowa Hawkeyes 77, #13 Oregon Ducks 69
Iowa picked up an impressive win over #13 Oregon in the 2K Empire Classic in New York. The Hawkeyes will now advance to play UConn in the title game after the Huskies upset #15 Syracuse in the night’s other semifinal.
Iowa jumped out early with an 8-0 run and never trailed the Ducks. While Oregon occasionally cut the deficit and made it close, the Hawkeyes always had an answer to open things back up. Leading Iowa in scoring was guard Jordan Bohannon with 16 points while Tyler Cook added 9 points and 10 rebounds.
The win tonight for Iowa was impressive considering the fact that they didn’t play particularly well on the offensive side of the ball. Shooting 35.2% from the field and committing 14 turnovers in comparison to only 8 assists, Iowa had to rely on free throws as they hit 29 of their 33 attempts. Iowa’s defense managed to hold its own, holding the Ducks to 37.1% from the field and 33.3% from three and managed to keep Oregon from finding any rhythm on the offense.
The Buckeyes had plenty of roster turnover heading into the season but after Thursday’s outing against Creighton they already have two solid non-conference wins after beating both the Bluejays and Cincinnati Bearcats to start the season.
Ohio State held a double digit lead in the second half before a pair of Creighton three pointers, followed by a layup by Mitch Ballock, cut the deficit to four. The game then went back and forth, with Creighton building a four point lead with under three to go before a three by C.J. Jackson gave the Buckeyes a 62-60 lead. Ohio State closed the game on a 13-0 run over the last 2:57 following Creighton’s last made field goal of the night.
Interestingly enough no starters on Ohio State reached double figures, with Kaleb Wesson leading the starters with 9 points. Keyshawn Woods added 19 points off the bench (he did play 32 minutes though) and Duane Washington Jr. added 12 points in 23 minutes.
Last year the Boilermakers struggled heavily in their first two games in the Battle 4 Atlantis before saving face by demolishing the second ranked Arizona Wildcats in their last game. This year Purdue didn’t even entertain the possibility of a first round loss as they rolled past Appalachian State by 22 in the first round of the Charleston Classic.
On Thursday Purdue quickly opened a double digit lead and never let the Mountaineers cut within 13 the rest of the way. Leading Purdue in scoring was guard Carsen Edwards with 25 points while senior Ryan Cline set a career high with 21 points. Nojel Eastern and Matt Haarms both reached double figures and Purdue shot 54.5% from the field on their way to 92 points.
Defensively Purdue kept Appalachian State from finding any rhythm, with the Mountaineers only hitting 41.1% of their 56 field goals and being held to 8 of 28 from three. Purdue will face Davidson on Friday in the semifinals.