The Big Ten had two games on MLK Day and they didn’t disappoint. Illinois and Purdue had one of the best games of the season in the early meeting and Indiana and Nebraska had a competitive matchup in the late game.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 7 Purdue Boilermakers 96, No. 25 Illinois Fighting Illini 88 (2OT)
This had all the feelings of a game you might see in the Elite Eight. Both sides brought plenty of energy, there was star power, and impressive play down the stretch. Purdue jumped out of the gate, only to see Illinois close the gap in the second half and force overtime. And even there, one overtime session wasn’t enough. It took double overtime to settle things with Purdue grabbing a narrow victory.
The stars for Purdue in the win were Zach Edey and Sasha Stefanovic. The two combined for 42 points and Edey added eight rebounds as well. Trevion Williams also had 14 points off the bench, though Illinois disrupted him significantly in the second half.
For Purdue, this was obviously a massive win. The Boilers were only 3-2 in Big Ten play heading into tip and desperately needed to avoid another loss to keep pace in the Big Ten title race. Add in that this qualifies as another marquee win and fans have to be ecstatic about how things are shaping up. Purdue will return to action on Thursday on the road against arch-rival Indiana. It’s the program’s first game against the Hoosiers since Mike Woodson was hired. Expect some fireworks.
On the other side, Illinois fell to 13-4 overall and 6-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. It was the team’s first slip up since dropping a game to Arizona on December 11th. And while Tuesday’s loss was disappointing, Illinois still remains in good shape overall and alone atop the Big Ten standings as of Tuesday morning. The team will hope to get back on track on Friday on the road against Maryland.
-Indiana Hoosiers 78, Nebraska Cornhuskers 71
This one looked one-sided before tip, but ended up being competitive. Nebraska made Indiana work for the win, thanks to a big performance from Bryce McGowens. However, Nebraska wasn’t able to get enough stops in the closing minutes to get a win. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the way with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Indiana improved to 13-4 overall and 4-3 in Big Ten play with the win while Nebraska fell to 6-13 overall and 0-8 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Hoosiers will now prepare for a showdown with arch-rival Purdue at home on Thursday. Nebraska will try to bounce back on the road against Ohio State on Saturday.