The Big Ten had a loaded slate of games on Saturday with six Big Ten teams in action, including two that were ranked in the preseason polls. It was a tough day for the league with three teams going down.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Day:
-Texas Longhorns 70, No. 23 Purdue Boilermakers 66
The most significant game of the day took place in West Lafayette as Texas traveled to face off against Purdue. Most thought it would be a competitive game, but that the Boilermakers would be able to pull out things in the closing minutes.
And generally speaking, that prediction wasn’t too far off. Things were pretty close throughout until Texas pulled away in the second half. Matt Coleman led the Longhorns with 22 points and Sasha Stefanovic led the Boilermakers with 14 points. Texas ended up pulling out the win and snapping Purdue’s home winning streak.
It’s far too early to panic about Purdue’s season moving forward, but Saturday was certainly a disappointing loss. For a team hoping to make a run at the Big Ten title and beyond, this seemed like a pretty winnable game on paper. It also would have been a nice win for Purdue to have on Selection Sunday.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Purdue’s two opening games has been the performance of Nojel Eastern. Many thought he could be an All-Big Ten player, but he’s only scored 12 points through two games. There are some injury concerns, so that could very well be the explanation. Either way, Purdue will have to get more from Eastern in the coming months to have a shot at the team’s season goals.
The Boilermakers will get back into action on Wednesday when the team goes on the road to face Marquette. It figures to be a major challenge for Purdue.
Not much to take away from this one. Indiana hosted an inferior opponent at home and was able to score an 11-point victory when all was said and done. Al Durham led things for Indiana with 18 points and two assists. The Hoosiers will get back into action on Tuesday at home against North Alabama.
-No. 7 Maryland Terrapins 73, Rhode Island Rams 55
This one will slip under the radar to some, but Maryland hosted a top 100 opponent in Rhode Island at home on Saturday and the Terps were able to come out on top in dominant fashion. Aaron Wiggins led the way with 13 points. The win pushed Maryland to 2-0 on the season and in position to jump out to a solid start. Maryland will now have a week off and will resume action on Saturday at home against Oakland.
Gopher fans were certainly hoping that Minnesota could continue the school’s magical day after the football team upset Penn State at home on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t end up happening as Minnesota fell on a neutral court to Oklahoma. The Gophers actually played well early on, but faded as the game continued.
This was a missed opportunity for Minnesota, but fans shouldn’t get too down about the team’s effort on Saturday. The Gophers were underdogs coming in and played decently well given expectations. Fans will just have to hope the team can clean up its mistakes as Minnesota prepares to travel to face Butler on Tuesday.
-Southern Utah Thunderbirds 79, Nebraska Cornhuskers 78 (2OT)
We’re two games into the Fred Hoiberg era in Lincoln and things aren’t looking great. Nebraska lost at home to UC Riverside on Tuesday to open the season and followed that up on Saturday with a loss against Southern Utah. This game was more competitive, but both ended in crushing losses. With the loss, Nebraska now sits at 0-2 overall.
There’s a part of me that would love to sit here and defend the early struggles. After all, this is a transitional year and it’s still November. Nebraska wouldn’t be the first team in history to struggle out of the gate and build momentum.
However, there’s no rational way to excuse losses to UC Riverside and Southern Utah at home over a five-day period. Nebraska could still improve in the months to come, but it’s hard to see this team accomplishing anything significant this year. Nebraska will return to action at home on Friday against South Dakota State.
Despite playing a really bad Wagner team, Penn State came out swinging and impressed in route to a 91-66 win. Penn State was led by Seth Lundy, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes of game time. The Nittany Lions will now prepare for a challenging road trip to play Georgetown on Thursday night. We should learn a lot more about this team then.