Northwestern 87, Penn State 77
Townie’s already given us a great recap of his experience at the game, and I recommend you check that out.
Scottie Lindsey dropped 31 on the Nittany Lions, the ‘Cats couldn’t miss for most of the first half, and they cruised past Penn State in the Bryce Jordan Center. This one was never this close—Penn State closed the lead to 9 with :20 left.
Most surprising to me (besides the ridiculously hot shooting) was how comfortable Northwestern looked, especially during the first half, in the face of the Penn State 3/4-court press. Bryant McIntosh (11 pts, 8 ast) broke it comfortably most times down the court, and getting the ball to Vic Law off the press-break enabled him to get to the basket (he had a 12-and-12 double-double). Gavin Skelly added another big game off the bench, grabbing 5 boards, dropping 12 points, and still looking eminently punchable. High motor, though.
I turned this one off impressed with Penn State’s guard Josh Reeves, who shot 50% from deep as part of his team-high 22 points, but we’re seeing the dangers of Pat Chambers’ preferred up-tempo style. The Lions still don’t shoot well (42% from the field and 27% from deep) or select particularly good shots, and if they’re not able to slash to the basket off the wings, they’re going to struggle in Big Ten play.
#14 wisconsin 72, rutger 52
Hey look. A truly shocking result.
You know a thing or two about wisconsin or rutger basketball and want to write about them for us? Let us know! wisconsin led by 6 with 5 minutes to go in the first half and then put the hammer down to ease past rutger.
We saw exactly what we already knew about the badgers—Ethan Happ posted a double-double, Nigel Hayes got to the basket, and Zak Showalter made up for a poor day from Bronson Koenig. Ho-hum, the badgers keep rolling.
I mean...what do you want me to say, Scarlet Knights? 30.6% from the field (Corey Sanders was 1/11). 17 offensive rebounds (37.8% rate), but 16 allowed (a 47.1% rate). There are still miles to go before Steve Pikiell sleeps, and if Deshawn Freeman can’t stay out of foul trouble, there’s a lot of work left to do before rutger cracks into the 6-win echelon of the Big Ten.
Maryland 84, Illinois 59
DJ Carver: I would like to thank Illinois for giving me the first Maryland game this year where I did not need to sweat out a victory. It was weird but nice to just enjoy watching the game. Oh and we somehow did it without both of our centers, which is odd but something to wonder about.
Are we better at running small ball? Running a lineup of Cowan, Trimble, Brantley, Huerter, Jackson puts very good passers and scorers on the floor and quickly ran Illinois out of the gym.
Thumpasaurus: Our seventh 25 point blowout in calendar year 2016 shows nothing I don't already know. Illinois basketball has never been this bad in the era of college basketball on TV. John Groce is unforgivably bad at running and coaching a program.
Michigan State 75, Minnesota 74 (OT)
Andrew Krabapple: Last night was yet further proof that unless and until some combination of Miles Bridges, Gavin Schilling, and hopefully (though probably not) Ben Carter get back on the floor in game shape. MSU is going to have problems inside.
Where exactly they would be without Nick Ward arriving on campus not only ready to contribute, but to star, there's no telling, as the least-ballyhooed of MSU's standout freshman class has been the team's best player. Alvin Ellis also did his annual scoring explosion from nowhere to steal a road game, so Izzo played that card a bit early.
Nebraska 87, #16 Indiana 83
I can probably write Nebraska's before this game is even played: Although Nebraska's D challenged the Hoosiers at times, once again the Huskers were unable to get any reliable shooting rolling, and the outcome was never in doubt. Oh and also: Nebraska guard Anton Gill, a transfer from Louisville, will be out for the rest of the season after rupturing the patella tendon in his right knee in practice earlier this week. Gill will have surgery and face a 6-8 month rehab. While Gill has not been a reliable scorer, he has had two 10-point games this season and the injury saps the Huskers even further of potential point production.
Well, that didn't go as I envisioned at all. In fact, I wrote a whole recap before the game about how our D was fine but we just couldn't get the offensive production. It wasn't a bad guess. But what happened was different, and better. The Huskers played extremely aggressively (too aggressively, in Tshimanga's case, as he picked up a flagrant foul), and pestered the Hoosiers for the ball all night. Their rebounding also seemed better than normal. But the biggest difference was that a team that averages only 69 points a game ended up with 87. The Huskers got good contributions off the bench, and though the familiar shooting drought appeared late in the first half, the team rallied in the second half.
The Huskers, who lost at home to Gardner-Webb last week, knocked off the #16 team and led for a good portion of the game. Indiana, who hadn't lost at home for something like 28 games (since March 2014, in fact) saw tgat streak end to the unlikeliest opponent.
And so, Tom Crean lost to Nebrasketball at home. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, everyone.
#15 Purdue 89, Iowa 67
Tyler Cook’s return wasn’t enough to spur the Hawkeyes to a win over heavily-favored Purdue, as the freshman’s 12 points were met by five Boilermakers scoring double-digits. Iowa held Caleb Swanigan to a quieter double-double, if such a thing exists (11 boards and 12 pts on 4/12 shooting), but Isaac Haas added 16 and 7 of his own, Dakota Mathias was 4/7 from distance for his 17 points, Carsen Edwards had 19 and 5 assists, and Vince Edwards added 15 points and 7 boards off the bench. Ouch.
We’ve finally seen what can happen to Peter Jok against a better defense—the Boilers harried the heart and soul of Iowa, who scored just 13 points on 4/15 shooting (1/7 from deep).
With its lineup pieces put back together, Iowa will need to continue to get its defense in order to hang onto its position in the middle of the Big Ten.