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11/23 Big Ten Recap: Penn State Escapes

Recap all the Big Ten action from Saturday night.

NCAA Basketball: Bucknell at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten had three teams in action on Saturday night, including a rolling Penn State squad. All three Big Ten teams ended up coming away with wins at home heading into the start of the holiday tournament portion of the season.

Let’s take a look at what happened.

Game of the Night:

-Penn State Nittany Lions 58, Yale Bulldogs 56

This one got pretty scary for Nittany Lion fans on Saturday. Despite Penn State entering the game as a decent favorite before tip-off, things got off to a rough start. By time the game got to the second half, Penn State was in an absolute dogfight. With less than five minutes remaining, Penn State only had an 8.5 percent chance to win, per KenPom.

However, Penn State used a late surge led by Izaiah Brockington and others to come away with a win. The Nittany Lions outscored Yale by a 26-11 margin in the final 10 minutes of the game. All told, Penn State grabbed a 58-56 win in what was truly a crash finish.

Yale isn’t an outstanding team, but is decent. The Bulldogs are 122nd nationally on KenPom and figure to have a decent shot at the NCAAs. A win over a team like that will boost Penn State’s resume at season’s end. And to get down against a team like that and come back speaks volumes about this year’s Penn State squad.

Penn State will now head to New York City for its non-conference tournament. The team opens with a game against Ole Miss on Wednesday. It should be a tight one.

The Rest:

-Illinois Fighting Illini 120, Hampton Pirates 71

Let’s be very clear. Hampton isn’t a great team. The Pirates currently sit at 254th nationally on KenPom and have no realistic hopes of the postseason. This is a game that will probably be forgotten in just a few weeks.

With all that said, Illinois was really impressive on Saturday, finishing with a 120-point onslaught and an absurd 1.54 points per possession. Think about it this way. Illinois jumped seven spots on KenPom after beating a team outside the top 250 on the site. That’s how impressive this win was for the Illini.

Illinois will now prepare for Lindenwood at home on Tuesday. It figures to be another easy opponent and fans will hope the team can keep up its positive momentum.

-Purdue Boilermakers 81, Jacksonville State Gamecocks 49

There really isn’t much to take away from this one. Purdue hosted a pretty underwhelming team at home and cruised to an easy win. Matt Haarms led the way for the Boilermakers with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Purdue will now have a few days to get ready for its non-conference tournament appearance next week, which opens with a game against VCU in Florida on Black Friday. The Boilermakers will be looking for the team’s first quality win of the season.