The Big Ten had two games on Friday, highlighted by a massive matchup between Illinois and Michigan State in Champaign. Purdue and Nebraska also tangled.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-Illinois Fighting Illini 75, Michigan State Spartans 66
This looked like a fantastic matchup heading into tip and lived up to the billing, as the teams battled it out until the closing minutes. The Spartans controlled most of the early portions of the game, but Illinois chipped away in the second half and used a late push to come away with the nine-point win. Dain Dainja led the way with 19 points.
With the win, Illinois improved to 12-5 overall and 3-3 in Big Ten play. It’s the team’s third straight win and its fourth in five games. It’s been an electric run for fans and Illinois is clearly trending up in the projections as well, as Illinois jumped from 40th to 22nd on KenPom, even despite recently losing Skyy Clark. There’s still a lot of work to do, but fans have to be thrilled with the team’s progress the last few weeks.
Michigan State fell to 12-5 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play with the loss. The defeat snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Spartans dating back to early December. The team played decently, but couldn’t do anything from three-point range all night, finishing a dreadful 0-for-4 from deep. That’s just not a stat teams are going to overcome very often.
Illinois will now hope to build off this win with a road trip to Minnesota on Monday. The Spartans will hope to bounce back at home against Purdue on Monday.
-No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers 73, Nebraska Cornhuskers 55
This game looked lopsided heading into tip and played out that way, as Purdue cruised to an 18-point home win over the Huskers. Fletcher Loyer led the way with 27 points and three assists. Zach Edey also had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Nebraska didn’t play terribly, but were undermanned as the team was without Sam Griesel and Juwan Gary.
Purdue improved to 16-1 overall and 5-1 in Big Ten play with the win while Nebraska fell to 9-9 overall and 2-5 in Big Ten play with the loss. The Boilermakers will hope to keep things rolling on the road against Michigan State on Monday. Nebraska will try and bounce back at home against Ohio State on Wednesday.