The Big Ten and ACC played six more games in this years ACC / Big Ten Challenge and the conferences remain tied heading into the last night. While the conferences split the night, it wasn’t exactly the most impressive performance for the Big Ten outside of a Penn State home upset and Wisconsin holding off North Carolina State.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night
#9 Michigan State Spartans 78, Louisville Cardinals 82
The Cardinals opened up a lead in the first half against the Spartans and kept that lead for most of Tuesday’s game against Michigan State. It wasn’t until a Joshua Langford jumper that the Spartans took their first lead of the second half with 3:48 to go, followed by a back and forth close to regulation. After Louisville split a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining, Kenny Goins missed a free throw for the lead while Louisville’s Ryan McMahon missed a three pointer to send the game into overtime.
Free throws once again reared their ugly head for the Spartans as Louisville sent Langford to the line with four seconds to go and the Spartans down three. With Langford expected to make the first and miss the second for an attempted offensive board, Langford missed the first free throw. Then he missed the rim when intentionally missing the second free throw, allowing the Cardinals to seal the deal with a Jordan Nwora free throw.
Michigan State actually outshot the Cardinals, hitting 47.5% of their 59 field goals compared to Louisville’s 39.6%. The Spartans also were 8 of 20 from three, slightly more efficient than Louisville’s 10 of 29, while out rebounding the Cardinals 47-30. The biggest difference was the free throw line, with Louisville holding a 41-23 free throw advantage. It also didn’t help Michigan State that they only hit 60.9% of their free throws, including critical misses at the end of regulation and overtime.
Xavier Tillman had an impressive outing off the bench with 11 points and 13 rebounds for State. In an interesting stat line, Kenny Goins attempted zero shots in 29 minutes, but recorded a game high 17 rebounds.
The Illini fell to 2-5 after losing at Notre Dame, though they’ve managed to at least make things interesting. Just like their early season loss to Georgetown and their trip to Maui, the Illini are competing most nights with teams decisively better than them and finding ways to almost pull off the upset before falling short. Tonight in particular, with Trent Frazier’s go ahead three with a second left just rimming out after going halfway down.
Illinois hung around all night against Notre Dame and took advantage of the Irish shooting 3 of 8 from the line in the closing 31 seconds. The Illini could have easily packed it in after the Irish took a double digit lead down the stretch, but fought their way back and almost stole one from the Irish.
Senior Aaron Jordan and freshman Giorgi Bezhanishvili combined for 45 points while no one else for Illinois reached double figures. Illinois didn’t shoot particularly well (40.6%) and committed 15 turnovers, but forced 16 turnovers and hung around with the Irish only making 24 of their 39 free throws.
Indiana Hoosiers 69, #3 Duke Blue Devils 90
It took the Blue Devils less than seven minutes to push the lead against Indiana to double figures and from then they never looked back as they steamrolled the Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers shot 39.1% from the field and 31.3% from three, made only 56% of their 25 free throws and committed 20 turnovers. Zion Williamson dominated the Hoosiers, scoring 25 points on 11 of 15 shooting, while RJ Barrett added 22.
Playing at Duke was always going to be a challenge but it was still a rough night for the Indiana faithful.
#14 Iowa Hawkeyes 69, Pittsburgh Panthers 68
A win’s a win but it’s never a good look when the 14th ranked team struggles at home against a Pitt team that is coming off of close wins against North Alabama and Saint Louis.
Luckily for Iowa the Panthers hit a dry spell after Xavier Johnson hit a three pointer to give Pitt a 62-59 lead with 7:51 to go. Over the last 7:51 the Panthers only made one field goal and missed a layup under the rim in the closing seconds. While Xavier Johnson had an impressive night for Pitt with 18 points, the offense couldn’t keep it going down the stretch and Iowa was able to do just enough to edge the Panthers for the win.
Joe Wieskamp had a strong performance with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Nicholas Baer added 16 points in 18 minutes off the bench. The Hawkeyes were held to 36.5% from the field, but forced 17 turnovers and took advantage of a 28-13 free throw advantage in their one point victory.
Penn State Nittany Lions 63, #13 Virginia Tech Hokies 62
Tonight’s game seems very Penn State. Inexplicably lose to teams like DePaul and Bradley and then unexpectedly knock off a ranked team at home. Maybe the Hokies aren’t worthy of being ranked 13th in the nation, but it was an impressive win for the Nittany Lions regardless.
In a back and forth game the Nittany Lions managed to hold on for a one point win even though they missed two late free throws and didn’t score over the last 3:15 of the game. Penn State got a strong outing from their bench, with freshmen Myreon Jones and Rasir Bolton scoring 29 of the Lions 63 points. Lamar Stevens led the starters with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists while the remaining four Penn State starters combined for 15 points on 6 of 17 shooting.
#22 Wisconsin Badgers 79, North Carolina State Wolfpack 75
The Badgers overcame trailing most of the night to come from behind and knock off undefeated North Carolina State. Wisconsin had trailed from late in the first half until an Ethan Happ jumped with 2:22 gave them the lead back. A pair of Brad Davison free throws sealed the deal and Wisconsin improved to 6-1.
Leading Wisconsin in scoring was Ethan Happ, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds. It should probably be mentioned that guard Brad Davison, who scored 12 points, drew five charges on the night, including a pivotal charge in the final minute. The Badgers shot 49.1% from the field and 52.4% from three, but struggled at the line.
Markell Johnson led the Wolfpack with 21 points on 9 of 17 shooting. North Carolina State shot the ball relatively well, but couldn’t hit as effectively from beyond the arc (38.9%) and only got to the line for eight free throws.