The Wolverines are surprisingly alone at the top of the Big Ten standings now after taking down Michigan State at the Breslin Center on Saturday night. Nobody expected the Wolverines to be as dominate in the Big Ten after losing Mitch McGary, but as we have seen it all can change in a week. Wisconsin and Ohio State were able to end their losing skids, while Illinois is mired in a six-game funk. With the conference schedule being about halfway over, we are sure to get some exciting action in the last month-plus of Big Ten play.
Marquette (11-9, 3-4): WIN @ Georgetown (80-72 OT), LOSS v. #4 Villanova (94-85 OT):
Lately 40 minutes hasn't been enough to decide Marquette games, with the last three games the Golden Eagles games having gone to overtime. On Monday night against Georgetown, Marquette was able to erase a 56-49 deficit with 4:54 left to force overtime. Todd Mayo hit a game-tying three-pointer with six seconds left in the second half to send the game to overtime. The momentum rolled over for Marquette, as they scored the first seven points of overtime to earn the victory. Devante Gardner led the Golden Eagles with 20 points, while Steve Taylor added 14 points, 10 of which came after halftime.
Mayo again had a major impact in forcing overtime for Marquette on Saturday against Villanova, scoring the final 10 points of regulation. This time though the Golden Eagles didn't have any left in the tank to spring the upset over Villanova. Devante Gardner had another monster game for Marquette, scoring 29 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. The loss snapped a 20-game winning streak in conference play that Marquette held at home, with their last loss coming to Cincinnati in March 2011. Had Villanova hit their free throws at the end of the game they wouldn't have needed the extra frame, as they missed five of seven free throws in the last 1:11 of the second half. Marquette will try and score a victory in regulation when they host Providence on Thursday before traveling to face St. John's on Saturday.
Maryland (11-9, 3-4): LOSS @ N.C. State (65-56), LOSS v. #20 Pittsburgh (83-79):
After 20 minutes of play against North Carolina State, Maryland looked like they might be starting the week on a high note. The Terrapins held a 29-20 lead at half, but they had no answer for the Wolfpack offense in the second half. North Carolina State was without ACC leading scorer T.J. Warren, but that just gave Ralston Turner a chance to tie his career-high with 23 points, 19 of which came in the second half. Maryland was dreadful from the field, only shooting 31% in the game. A bright spot for Maryland was their ability to rebound the ball, including getting 18 rebounds from Charles Mitchell, but it wasn't enough to help the earn the victory.
The week only got worse from there for Maryland, with 83-79 loss to Pittsburgh at home on Saturday. The loss was an improvement from the 20-point defeat the Terrapins suffered in Pittsburgh earlier in the month. The biggest difference in the game was Pittsburgh's ability to get to the free throw line, with the Panthers attempting 17 more free throws in the game. Despite not leading in the second half, Maryland was able to keep the game close and give them a little bit of hope at the end. Dez Wells was the leading scorer with 19 points for Maryland, who have now lost four of their last five games. The Terrapins will try and slow down their losing ways when they host Miami on Tuesday before going to Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Notre Dame (11-9, 2-5): LOSS @ Florida State (76-74), LOSS @ Wake Forest (65-58):
After beating Duke in their first ACC game, Notre Dame has found things in their new league to be a lot tougher lately. The Fighting Irish were able to fight back from being down 10 points with just under eight minutes to go, as a Pat Connaughton layup tied the game with 34 seconds left. But, an Ian Miller floater in the lane with four seconds to go was the bucket that gave Florida State victory. Eric Atkins continued his solid play in replacing the suspended Jerian Grant, leading Notre Dame with 24 points. Garrick Sherman racked up another double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Garrick Sherman went for 20 points against Wake Forest, including a free throw to put the Fighting Irish up 54-53 with just over two minutes to go. Notre Dame wasn't able to hold on to the lead though, dropping their five game in the last six. Mike Brey's team was ice cold for three-point range, only seeing two of their 16 attempts from behind the arc fall. After spending last week on the road, Notre Dame will hope to get some home cookin' this week. The Fighting Irish will host Virginia Tech on Tuesday followed by Boston College on Saturday.
Purdue (13-7, 3-4): LOSS @ Northwestern (63-60 2 OT), LOSS v. #9 Wisconsin (72-58):
Winners of three straight games entering last week, Purdue looked like they might be on the verge of making a run in the Big Ten. That wasn't to be though, as the Boilermakers dropped both games they played last week. Purdue started the week by dropping a double-overtime decision to Northwestern in Evanston on Tuesday night. The game won't make any of the "best of" Big Ten highlight reels, with Purdue barely shooting above 27% in the game. A.J. Hammons was almost able to help will Purdue to victory with a 17 points and 10 rebounds while Terone Johnson added 16 points. The Boilermakers had a chance to send the game to a third overtime, but a Ronnie Johnson three-point attempt was blocked at the buzzer.
Saturday afternoon's game against Wisconsin wasn't nearly as productive for Hammons, as he picked up two fouls in the first minute and a half of the game, and had three before the first half ended. Hammons finished the game with only two points and two rebounds, as Purdue struggled to find much of anything on offense. The Boilermakers held close through the first half, only trailing Wisconsin 32-29 at the break. The second half saw the Badgers pull away, with Purdue struggling from the field, but especially from long range. The Boilermakers only hit three of 17 three-pointers in the game. Now Purdue will face the tough test of heading to Ann Arbor to play Michigan on Thursday and then on to State College to square off with Penn State on Sunday.
Nebraska (10-9, 2-5): WIN v. #17 Ohio State (68-62), LOSS @ Penn State (58-54), WIN v. Minnesota (82-78):
Coming into the week Nebraska was winless in the Big Ten so far this season, and they were facing a team that they hadn't beaten in their last nine meetings. The crowd at Pinnacle Bank Arena was rocking for most of the game, and helped to propel Nebraska to the upset victory. The loss sent Ohio State to their fourth straight loss, but the Cornhuskers made life difficult for themselves. After squandering a first half 14-point lead, Nebraska found enough behind Terran Petteway and Shavon Shields each scoring 18 points to gain the victory. A full recap of what happened on Monday night in Lincoln can shed a little more light on just how Nebraska did it.
Thursday night Nebraska made the trip to Penn State for the second of three games this week, and had a 29-22 lead after 20 minutes. The second half wasn't nearly as kind as the first though, as Penn State made a charge and was able to take the decision in front of their home crowd. Nebraska has nobody to blame but themselves for this loss, with ugly shooting and sloppy ball-handling. The Cornhuskers turned it over 14 times and only made 36% of their shots in the game. They held a 50-49 lead late in the game, but that was the last lead that they would hold over Penn State.
To end the week Nebraska returned back to Pinnacle Bank Arena, and were able to pull of another stunner, this time beating Minnesota behind a career-high 35 points from Petteway. The win improved Nebraska's record at home to 9-1 this season, with the only loss they've suffered being by one-point to Michigan. The Cornhuskers used a 13-3 run in the second half to open up a 15-point lead, and they withstood a late Minnesota run to secure the victory. Nebraska was powered not only by Petteway, but they also hit a season-high 11 three-pointers in the win. After a three-game schedule last week, Nebraska will get a little reprieve, with their only game this week is on Thursday night at home against Indiana.
#3 Michigan State (18-2, 7-1): WIN v. Indiana (71-66), LOSS v. #21 Michigan (80-75):
After dealing with some injuries during the non-conference portion of the schedule, injuries are again hitting Michigan State hard. Adreian Payne has now missed five straight games with a foot injury, while Branden Dawson will be out for awhile after breaking his right hand hitting a table in between the Indiana game and the Michigan game, Dawson did play in the game against Indiana and almost put up a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. The leading scorer for Michigan State in the victory over the Hoosiers was Gary Harris, who put in 24 points, 20 of those in the second half. The Spartans needed all those points in the second half, as they trailed Indiana 28-27 going into halftime. Whatever Tom Izzo said at halftime worked, with Michigan State using a 11-2 run early in the second half to take the lead.
Gary Harris again paced Michigan State in the game on Saturday over their in-state rival with 27 points, but it wasn't quite enough to help the Spartans extend their winning streak to 12 games. Not only was Michigan State missing Payne and Dawson, but Keith Appling is dealing with wrist and back ailments, and that was really evident in his play. The senior was only 3-11 from the field to finish with 10 points, but he was able to deal out 10 assists in the loss. Freshman Alvin Ellis stepped up with 12 points in the game, which was more than his seven previous Big Ten games combined. The Spartans will face a tough test on Tuesday when they travel to Iowa, and then they'll step out of conference when they head to Madison Square Garden to play Georgetown on Saturday afternoon.
#10 Iowa (16-4, 5-2): LOSS @ #21 Michigan (75-67), WIN @ Northwestern (76-50):
After moving to the Top-10 last Monday, Iowa followed that off with a tough road loss on Wednesday in Ann Arbor to Michigan. One reason the Hawkeyes found themselves behind on the scoreboard was their three-point attempts weren't falling quite like normal. Iowa was only able to go 2-10 from three-point range. Aaron White scored 17 points for the Hawkeyes, with 14 of those came in a row during the second half, and almost helped to pull Iowa even in te game. A dunk from White pulled Iowa to within 67-64, but that was as close as they'd get. Melsahn Basable also scored 17 points, and pulled down six rebounds.
The road was a little more kind to Iowa on Saturday, with the Hawkeyes having little trouble with Northwestern in Evanston. Gabe Olaseni came off the bench and scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Roy Devyn Marble tied Olaseni for high-scorer in the game for the Hawkeyes with 14 points. The halftime score was only 30-24 in the Hawkeyes' favor, but they were able to use a 44-20 rebounding edge in the game to put some distance on Northwestern. Iowa will return home for a showdown with Michigan State on Tuesday night before traveling to Illinois on Saturday.
Minnesota (15-6, 4-4): WIN v. #9 Wisconsin (81-68), LOSS @ Nebraska (82-78):
After just 16 seconds against Wisconsin, it looked like Minnesota might be in trouble when they lost Andre Hollins to a sprained ankle. That wasn't the case though, as they got 18 points and nine rebounds from Mo Walker off the bench to continue the woes for the Badgers. DeAndre Mathieu also added 18 points for the Golden Gophers. Much like against Ohio State, Minnesota used a major edge in points in the paint to down Wisconsin, outscoring the Badgers 48-24 in the paint. It didn't hurt that Minnesota was hot from the field, hitting nearly 59% from the field and also draining all 11 free throws they attempted.
Malik Smith found Pinnacle Bank Arena to his liking, tying a school record with eight three-pointers on his way to tying his career-high with 29 points. That wasn't quite enough though as the Golden Gophers were playing catch-up late in the second half and just ran out of time. After being down 10 with 1:20 left in the game, Minnesota was able to pull to within 80-78 with 2.7 seconds left. Minnesota was put in that hole because of their poor start to the second half, missing their first six shots and turning the ball over four times during the first few minutes. The Golden Gophers also could've used the services of Andre Hollins, who sat out the game after spraining his ankle against Wisconsin. Hollins will have a little time to rest up, with the only game Minnesota plays this week coming on Saturday against Northwestern.
Illinois (13-8, 2-6): LOSS @ #17 Ohio State (62-55), LOSS @ Indiana (56-46):
After starting off their Big Ten schedule 2-0, Illinois has really fallen on hard times, now in the midst of a six-game losing streak. Ohio State was able to corral Rayvonte Rice and hold him scoreless in the victory over the Fighting Illini. This was especially impressive with Rice entering the game averaging 17.4 points per game. In a game between two teams that were struggling, Illinois hung tough with the Buckeyes but didn't quite have the finishing kick that Ohio State did. A.J. had you covered with a complete recap after Thursday's game.
Rice rebounded with 20 points against Indiana on Sunday, but he didn't get much help from his teammates in Bloomington. The Fighting Illini headed into halftime trailing 40-29, but were able to use a 10-2 run to pull within 42-39. That was as close as they'd get though as the Hoosiers had just a little too much. Illinois only hit a third of their shots in the game, and were also outworked on the boards by Indiana, getting out-rebounded 42-28 in the game. After what looked to be a promising start to the conference season, Illinois will be forced to hit the road and take down Iowa on Saturday if they want to avoid losing seven games in a row.
Penn State (10-10, 1-6): WIN v. Nebraska (58-54):
With Penn State's win over Nebraska, now every team in the Big Ten has won at least one conference game this year. Things weren't looking so good for the Nittany Lions after 20 minutes, with Penn State trailing 29-22 after 20 minutes. D.J. Newbill led the way for Penn State with 16 points, while John Johnson added 13 points, and Tim Frazier giving the Nittany Lions a complete game with 11 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Penn State took the lead at 51-50 and never gave it back, getting a possession arrow call with 10 seconds to go on a Nebraska possession to put the game away. Now Penn State comes to Columbus on Wednesday to face the Buckeyes before welcoming Purdue into the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday.
#9 Wisconsin (17-3, 4-3): LOSS @ Minnesota (81-68), WIN @ Purdue (72-58):
The beginning of the week meant more struggles for Wisconsin, who dropped their third straight game in losing to Minnesota on Wednesday. Second leading scorer Frank Kaminsky picked up two fouls in the first 2:32 of the game which threw Wisconsin out of their offensive rhythm. That carried over with the Badgers only shooting 5-20 from three-point range. Sam Dekker did his best to pick up the slack for Kaminsky, scoring 20 points for the Badgers. Nigel Hayes came off the bench to add 12 points for Wisconsin.
The Badgers were able to end their skid in West Lafayette on Saturday, pulling away for the Boilermakers in the second half. All five starters scored in double figures for Wisconsin, with Frank Kaminsky scoring 16 points and Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson each putting in 15 points for the Badgers. Wisconsin used a 9-2 run in the second half to put some distance between themselves and Purdue and end any doubt about the result. Now Wisconsin will try and start a new winning streak, hosting Northwestern on Wednesday and Ohio State on Saturday.
#21 Michigan (15-4, 7-0): WIN v. #10 Iowa (75-67), WIN @ #3 Michigan State (80-75):
No Mitch McGary? No problem so far for the Wolverines. McGary wasn't the only Wolverine missing in action against Iowa, as Derrick Walton Jr missed Wednesday night's game with the flu. Nik Stauskas provided the offensive spark that Michigan needed against the Hawkeyes, scoring 26 points. Spike Albrecht got his first start in place of Walton Jr, and give Michigan some solid minutes with seven points and seven assists. The Wolverines held the lead for most of the game, and was able to keep Iowa at bay in the second half, letting them get within three points late in the game, but no closer than that.
With their win over rival Michigan State on Saturday night, Michigan became the first team since 1996-97 to win three straight games against Top-10 teams. The win was only the second for the Wolverines in their last 15 games at the Breslin Center, as they used a late run to stay undefeated in Big Ten play. Stauskas and Walton Jr each had 19 points for Michigan, while Caris LeVert added 17 points and eight rebounds. A three-pointer by Stauskas with just over three minutes left gave the Wolverines the lead for good, as Michigan went 11-19 from downtown during the game. Michigan will now try to keep their unblemished Big Ten record intact this week when they host Purdue on Thursday before traveling to Indiana on Sunday.
Northwestern (10-11, 3-5): WIN v. Purdue (63-60 2 OT), LOSS v. #10 Iowa (76-50):
Northwestern was able to make it two Big Ten wins in a row when they outlasted Purdue in double overtime on Tuesday night in Evanston. Both Tre Demps and Drew Crawford scored 19 points to lead the victory charge for Northwestern. The Wildcats didn't actually lead in the game until they took a 53-51 lead in the second overtime, but they led when it counted most. Neither team shot particulary well doing the game, but Northwestern was able to do just a little bit more than Purdue did on offense.
Northwestern's winning streak was short-lived though, as Iowa pulled away from the Wildcats in the second half on Saturday. Not much changed from the 93-67 Iowa win earlier this month aside from the fact that Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery was on the sidelines in this one after missing the last game against Northwestern due to suspension. Iowa was just too much for Northwestern on the boards and from the floor for the Wildcats to keep up. Drew Crawford led Northwestern in scoring in the game with 20 points as he set a school record in playing in his 131st game for the Wildcats. One bright spot for Northwestern is they did get Dave Sobolewski back from a concussion, as he played 10 minutes in the game. Road games await Northwestern this week, with a trip to Wisconsin on Wednesday and Minnesota on Saturday.
Indiana (13-7, 3-4): LOSS @ #3 Michigan State (71-66), WIN v. Illinois (56-46):
Indiana hung with Michigan State most of the way, but a late 10-2 run by the Spartans opened up a 10-point lead and was what did Indiana in. Yogi Ferrell did his best to keep Indiana in it, scoring 14 of his 19 points in the second half. Noah Vonleh registered a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Hoosiers were short-handed in the game as they were without Will Sheehey, who injured his ankle against Northwestern. This meant that Austin Ehterington took Sheehey's spot in the starting lineup, and was only able to give Indiana three points in 19 minutes.
Again Yogi Ferrell had a big second half on Sunday, but unlike against Michigan State it helped Indiana to secure a win against Illinois. Ferrell scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to help Indiana snap a two-game losing streak. Illinois had closed the score to 42-39 with 8:24 left, but Indiana didn't let Illinois get any closer, answering with their own 6-0 run to put the game away. Stanford Robinson was the only other Hoosier player in double figures, scoring 10 points in the win. The good news for Indiana is that the loss of Sheehey was short-lived, as he returned to play 29 minutes on Sunday. The Hoosiers will travel to Nebraska on Thursday before returning home to take on Michigan on Sunday afternoon.
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