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Big Ten Notebook

December 5, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big Ten Notebook

by Alan Rubenstein

Feast Week was very kind to the Big Ten. Iowa, Indiana and Purdue showed why people think of the state of Indiana when the eyes of college basketball were on the Big Ten. The Hoosiers and Hawkeyes both prevailed in thrillers at the Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Iowa (3-0) turned back two late Louisville comebacks to post the upset over then number 20 Louisville. Pierre Pierce continued his clutch play by hitting a free throw with 9.2 second remaining in overtime to give Iowa a 70-69 victory. Greg Brunner finished with a career high 26 points. The Hawkeyes pounded the Cardinals on the boards with a 45-27 advantage. Iowa will have to work on its free throw shooting if it is going to be able to win close games throughout the season. The Hawkeyes shot only 13-24 from the line in the win over the Cards. Luke Whitehead led UL with 18 points and 14 rebounds.

Iowa hosted a familiar face when Dr. Tom Davis and the Drake Bulldogs visited Carver Hawkeye arena. Davis entered Carver to a standing ovation and his Bulldogs were able to ride the emotion into the second half. The Hawkeyes were able to use depth to wear down Drake against Davis’ signature full court press. The Iowa reserves scored 19 points, and had 14 rebounds and six assists. Pierre Pierce continued his well rounded play with 19 points, nine rebounds, five assists, 2 blocks and four steals. Pierce will have to work on taking better care of the ball as he finished with nine turnovers.

Indiana (2-2) sparked the home crows after surrendering a 14 point lead in an 80-77 overtime victory over Xavier in the second half of Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Bracey Wright’s three-point-play with 35.3 seconds left in overtime put the Hoosiers ahead to stay. The 6’4 sophomore has been the only consistent scoring threat. Wright is averaging 23.8 PPG, Marshall Strickland is next at 9.8.

IU began feast week with an abysmal performance in a 73-60 loss at Vanderbilt. Commodore All-America candidate Matt Freije was a one man wrecking crew. Freije overcame a 6-19 performance from the floor by hitting all 18 of his free throw attempts and grabbed 13 rebounds. He was the only player from Vandy to finish in double figures.

Purdue served notice that is plans on contending for the Big Ten title. Led by Kenneth Lowe, the Boilermakers made a big statement by throttling then number two Duke in the second half to capture the Great Alaska Shootout 78-68. The Boilers opened the second half with a 16-2 run to seize control. Lowe finished with 22 points, hit 8-8 from the free throw line and walked away with the tournament MVP. Chris Booker also landed on the all tournament team and played a key role versus Duke. In the title tilt, Booker contributed 20 points, and had five assists. Sophomore David Teague scorched the Blue Devils for 19 points and hit 3-7 from beyond the arc. Purdue advanced to the final with an impressive 75-63 victory over Seton Hall.

As with most of Gene Keady’s successful teams, a ferocious defense was the key to victory. In the final, the Boilers held Duke to 38 percent shooting and the Blue Devils only converted five of 22 three-point-field goals. For the tournament, Purdue held its opponents to 41 percent from the floor.

Illinois (3-1) had an impressive week with dominating wins over Mercer and Temple.

Against Mercer, the Illini controlled the game in virtually every aspect. They had a 44-27 edge on the boards, out shot them 53.6 to 40.0 percent and forced Mercer into 21 turnovers. Dee Brown paced five Illini in double figures with 18 and Roger Powell had 16 points and ten rebounds.

Playing Temple and John Chaney’s match up Zone is never an easy prospect. Playing at one of College Basketball’s Meccas, the Palestra, Illinois never the Owl fans and chance to get into the game as the Illini led 22-5 and were able to hold the lead throughout in a 75-60 victory.

Nick Smith received his first start of the season in a move designed to utilize Smith height and passing ability against the match up zone. Illinois’ ability to move the ball proved to be a key as the Illini finished with a 22-5 edge in assists. Balance scoring and an encouraging season debut from Luther Head helped lead the Illini to victory. Head finished with nine points.

Head and freshman Aaron Spears had been suspended for four games after being accused of playing a role in an off campus break in. Freshman Richard Mc Bride served the last game of his suspension in the Big Ten-ACC challenge against North Carolina.

Northwestern (3-3) is playing an improved non-conference schedule this season and they have been unable to beat the more talented teams so far this year. After losing the opener against Colorado, NU renewed their cross-town rivalry with De Paul, but was unable to keep up with the Blue Demons. De Paul used its athleticism and was energized by the home crowd at Allstate Arena. De Paul broke open an eight point game by going on 12-2 run early in the second half to put the game away. The Wildcats were unable to contain Delonte Holland who finished with 27 points on 10-13 from the floor. Jitim Young with 23 and Vedran Vukusic with 16 were the only Wildcats in double figures.

The Wildcats recovered to defeat Northwestern State at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Vukusic finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals despite having the flu.

The first meeting the schools that might easily be confused was a sloppy affair. NU committed 18 turnovers and shot only 64 percent from the free throw line. Mohammad Hachad with 14, Davor Duvancic with 11 and T.J. Parker with 13 all finished in double figures. Northwestern ran an efficient offense and didn’t have to rely on Young who only finished with nine. After playing Bowling Green December 6th, the Wildcats will be off for 11 days for finals.

It might have seemed like Wisconsin (2-1) took a trip to Las Vegas last week after they carved up the Panthers and Scarlet Knights. Instead of tickets to see Siegfried and Roy and a stay at the Luxor, Wisconsin was able to defeat Eastern Illinois and Rutgers.

The Badgers dominated EIU in everyway in an 81-47 victory. Freddie Owens scored a career high 24 points on a career high 7-8 from the floor and the line and shot 4-4 from three point range. A big difference was the Badgers 34-11 advantage from the free throw line.

Wisconsin was able to overcome an awful 3-20 showing from three-point-range by hitting 14-25 inside the arc and 18-22 from the line on their way to a 55-43 victory over Rutgers. Devin Harris showed why he is one of the Big Ten’s best players finishing with 18 points, and five assists.

Ohio State was unable to overcome San Diego State in dropping an 83-61 decision to the Aztecs. The Buckeyes were able to recover from the first round loss to post victories over Central Michigan and Villanova to finish fifth.

In the opener, SDSU blew open and game that was tied at 32 at the half by riding freshman Brandon Heath’s 28 points and the team’s school record 13 three point field goals. After leading by 15 points at halftime, the Buckeyes held off a pesky and undermanned Villanova in the consolation title. The Wildcats were playing with only six scholarship players due to suspensions.

Michigan State (3-2) undoubtedly faces the nation’s toughest schedule this season the Spartans wasted no time in playing the best. They began their Thanksgiving with a road game at then number six Kansas.

After trailing by as many as 17 points in the second half, Michigan State was able to rally to cut the deficit to four before KU hit its free throws to ice an 81-84 victory. Wayne Simien proved he is back from shoulder surgery that ended his season early a year ago by torching the Spartans for 28 points and eight rebounds. Maurice Ager came off the bench to pace MSU with 17. Alan Anderson with 16 and Paul Davis with 13 were the only other Spartans in double figures.

It was the Spartans turn to host Thanksgiving and they invited some old friends over for dinner. De Paul, Indiana State, Penn ventured to East Lansing for a reunion of the 1979 Final Four in the Coca-Cola Classic.

Just like they did in Salt Lake City 25 years ago, the Spartans blew out the Quakers 77-52 to advance to the championship game. De Paul lost a heartbreaker to Indiana State in 1979. This brand of Blue Demons was determined not to do the same. De Paul took control in the second half to setup the match up that Chicago college hoops fans wanted a quarter century ago.

De Paul showed a lot of resiliency, but Michigan State withstood two De Paul rallies to prevail in the title game 89-81. Kelvin Torbert (19 points), Alan Anderson (17) and Chris Hill (16 points and 11 assists). Torbert earned the tournament MVP and was joined on the team by teammates Hill and Shannon Brown, De Paul’s Delonte Holland and Penn’s Charlie Copp.

Like their cross state rivals, Michigan (4-0) also received an early season road test. After Indiana and Iowa beat a pair of NCAA tournament teams from last season, the Wolverines hoped the complete the hat trick for the Big Ten in circle city. Tommy Amaker’s young team was able to prevail 61-60 over Butler despite converting only one basket in the game’s final 14 and half minutes. Daniel Horton scored 16 points and provided the winning margin on two free throws with 6.9 seconds remaining. Mike Monserez paced the Butler attack with 23.

Earlier in the week Michigan defeated an overmatched High Point team. Michigan opened the game 21-2 and never looked back in an 84-49 win. Horton led five Wolverines in double figures with 18.

Minnesota’s lone game of the week was an unexpected overtime win against a pesky group of Paladins. The Gophers 91-84 victory over Furman was much closer than expected. Ben Johnson seems to be recovered from injury and illness problems from a year ago as he scorched Furman for 32 points. That eclipsed his previous career high of 20 while a freshman at Northwestern in 1999-2000. Kris Humphries continued to play exceptionally well with 26 points and seven rebounds. Adam Boone posted six of his 17 in overtimes. Maleye Ndoye finished with 32 points on 14-21 shooting but missed two shots that would have bestowed Furman with the shocker. Johnson also led the Gophers with nine rebounds.

Penn State (3-1) used a pair of victories and got a big monkey off their backs. The Nittany Lions began the week by defeating St. Francis 67-58. After spotting the Red Flash an 11-0 lead, Penn State decided it was a good idea to stop being gracious hosts. Jan Jagla finished with 23 points and a career high 15 rebounds and De Forrest Riley-Smith played outstanding defense and had 14 points and seven assists.

The Nittany Lions won their first road game in 23 tried when they prevailed 67-64 at Buffalo. Jagla played only nine minutes because of foul trouble, but finished with 10 points. Freshman guard Ben Luber played an outstanding all around game and led Penn State with 17 points including hitting 3-4 from three point range.

The Challenge

We’ll have a full review of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge results coming up next, but the Big Ten squads have to have some time to lick their wounds, as the ACC won 7 of 9 games for its best showing ever. Only No. 23 Purdue and Michigan survived the onslaught.


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