With conference play officially underway once again, four ranked teams tipped off against unranked teams on Thursday. Let’s take a look at what happened tonight.
Game of the Night
#21 Indiana Hoosiers 73, Illinois Fighting Illini 65
In the closest game of the night, the Illini came up short in their bid for an upset over Indiana. While Illinois did manage to hold a ten point lead in the first half, the Hoosiers managed to cut the deficit and tie the game at the end of the first. Illinois got off to a slow start in the second half, with Indiana jumping out the gate on a 14-3 run. The Illini were able to cut it down to 58-62 with 2:36 to go, but Indiana immediately responded with a 5-0 run to push the lead to nine with 1:20 to go. When everything was settled the Hoosiers held on for a 73-65 win against the Illini.
Indiana got a strong performance from Romeo Langford, who led the team in scoring with 28 points. While sloppy at times (15 turnovers), the Hoosiers shot 47.9% from the field and forced the Illini to commit 21 turnovers. Even more beneficial for Indiana was their ability to get to the line with a whopping 35 free throw attempts (23 more than the Illini’s 12). Their ability to force turnovers and get to the line helped make up for their 2 of 12 shooting performance from beyond the arc. Juwan Morgan also had a solid night, adding 15 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals.
Ayo Dosunmu led the Illini in scoring with 20, while Giorgi Bezhanishvili added 18 and Trent Frazier had 11. The problem was the remaining starters combined for four points and the bench only added 12. Illinois struggled from deep, hitting 28.6% of their 28 three pointers, turned it over 21 times and faced a massive free throw deficit. When everything was said and done it wasn’t enough to get the job done.
#2 Michigan Wolverines 68, Penn State Nittany Lions 55
It wasn’t always pretty on offense for Michigan, with the Wolverines scoring only five points over the last 7:51 of the first half, but their defense put on an impressive performance and the offense used a strong second half to keep the Nittany Lions at bay down the stretch.
After entering the break with a five point lead, Michigan went on a 11-2 lead to turn a 25-22 lead into a 36-24 lead. The Wolverines eventually opened up a 17 point margin, which Penn State would narrow down to single digits twice, but always found a way to answer on their way to a 68-55 victory.
The Wolverines had a balanced attack from their starters, with Jordan Poole, Ignas Brazdeikis and Charles Matthews scoring 17, 16 and 14 points respectively. Brazdeikis also added 11 rebounds, leading Michigan.
As for the Nittany Lions, the team relied heavily on Lamar Stevens (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Mike Watkins (19 points, 12 rebounds). Besides Stevens and Watkins, the remaining roster only added 19 points on 8 of 28 shooting. Mix that with shooting 7.1% from three (14 attempts) and committing 18 turnovers and it’s easy to see why Penn State couldn’t knock off Michigan on the road.
Minnesota Golden Gophers 59, #22 Wisconsin Badgers 52
Wisconsin isn’t used to losing to the Gophers, especially on their home court, but that happened for the first time since 2009 tonight.
It was a slow night for the Badgers offense, not reaching double digits until just over seven minutes remaining in the first half, and only scoring 14 at the half. Minnesota wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, either, only putting up 29 in the first half. Wisconsin managed to cut the lead to single digits throughout the second half, eventually cutting the deficit down to two with two minutes remaining. Wisconsin then proceeded to commit turnovers on three straight possessions, allowing Minnesota to open the lead back up to 8 and hold on.
Wisconsin shot 41.7% from the field, hit 5 of 22 three pointers and 7 of their 17 free throws. Ethan Happ, who led the team in scoring with 17 points, went 1 of 7 from the line (missing an additional free throw since he had a second chance in the closing seconds due to a lane violation). Wisconsin was also out rebounded 37-25 by Minnesota, losing the battle on the glass.
The Gophers were led in scoring by Amir Coffey with 21 points, while Jordan Murphy cleaned up on the glass with 11 rebounds.
Purdue Boilermakers 86, #25 Iowa Hawkeyes 70
While the ranked Hawkeyes went undefeated in non-conference play, they did lose their first two conference games about a month ago. That meant a road trip to Mackey Arena would be particularly important for the Hawkeyes as they tried to avoid a dreadful 0-3 start in conference play. Things didn’t go exactly as planned for Iowa.
First off Iowa had to deal with not having forward Luka Garza once again, missing his third game in a row. Then they had to deal with an offensive explosion from Purdue, who scored 24 points in the last 6:02 after scoring 28 over the first 13:58. Purdue out shot the Hawkeyes, out rebounded the Hawkeyes and committed half the turnovers the Hawkeyes did. Iowa cut the deficit to 12 just over a minute into the second half, but a 11-0 Purdue run put the game out of reach.
The Boilermakers were once again led in scoring by Carsen Edwards with 21 points, but they got an additional 39 points from their bench. Matt Haarms added 14 points in 15 minutes while Aaron Wheeler scored 10. Tyler Cook led Iowa with 24 points. Iowa simply couldn’t overcome a dreadful defensive performance that did nothing to slow the Boilermakers down.