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Big Ten Notebook

January 13, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments



Big Ten Notebook

by Alan Rubenstein

The final week before conference action began was a rough one for the Big Ten. Only Illinois emerged without a loss. Many conference teams hit the road to play games near the hometown of one of its players. Milestones were reached, acquaintances renewed and familiar faces returned home.

Minnesota’s Michael Bauer became the third active Big Ten player to reach 1,000 career points when he tallied four against Nebraska. Bauer’s teammate Ben Johnson is next in line with 991 points, Wisconsin’s Devin Harris has 988 and Chris Hill of Michigan State has 981.

Ed De Chellis of Penn State and Bruce Weber of Illinois will make their Big Ten debuts this week. DeChellis is a former Nittany Lion player and assistant coach whose maiden voyage will take place against Minnesota. Weber’s first game will commence when the Illini host Ohio State.

Purdue’s visit to Champaign should be an emotional one for Weber. Before fronting the program at Southern Illinois for five years, Weber served as a top assistant for Gene Keady at Purdue. During Weber’s tenure, the Boilermakers captured six Big Ten titles and reached 14 NCAA tournaments.

De Forrest Riley-Smith has announced his intention to leave Penn St. In a Penn State press release Riley-Smith commented “This is not a good fit for me as far as the environment goes. If I could put this basketball program, coach De Chellis and my teammates in a box and take them with me I would.”

Purdue’s Chris Booker has been suspended indefinitely because of unspecified academic problems. It’s not known when he will return.

Illinois (9-2) escaped as the only Big Ten team with out a loss during the last week of non-conference clashes. The Illini earned a pair of hard fought victories over in state rivals. The heart and soul of the Illini, Deron Williams returned after missing three games with a broken jaw. Playing with his jaw wired shut, Williams entered the bout with Illinois State 6:21 into the first half and ultimately scored 20 points to lead Illinois to an 80-73 overtime win over the Redbirds.

Ten of his points came during a crucial second half rally after the Illini trailed by 11 in the second half. Williams hit four three pointers and added four rebounds and three assists. The Illini used a balanced attack as Dee Brown posted 16, Luther Head 15 and Nick Smith 14 to counter ISU’s outstanding three point shooting.

Illinois-Chicago was unable to match the Illini’s size and quickness. Illinois took control early and cruised to a 75-60 victory. Clinging to a 13-10 lead, the Illini used a 19-4 run to extend the lead to 18 and they never looked back. The Illini cranked up the defense against their big city brethren. Illinois outrebounded the Flames 52-34, held UIC to 36 percent shooting and did an outstanding job on Flames stars Cedric Banks and Martell Bailey. Banks finished with only nine points, more than ten below his average. Bailey who entered the game second in the nation is assists, finished with only three points and two assists. Armond Williams led UIC with 14.

Wisconsin (9-2) became the latest Big Ten team to suffer a poor shooting night as the Badgers fell 71-56 at Alabama. Alabama seized control in the first half and maintained a comfortable lead throughout.

The Crimson Tide out shot Wisconsin 52 percent to 38 percent and outrebounded them 34-24. Devin Harris was the only Badger in double figures finishing with 22 points, four assists and hit four of eight three point shots. Freddie Owens struggles illustrated the Badgers bumpy evening with four points on 2-9 from the floor.

The Badgers returned to Madison for some home cooking. Searching for their twentieth consecutive home victory, Wisconsin welcomed the College of Charleston to the Kohl Center. Using a 19-5 run late in the first half, the Badgers sped to a 36-20 lead at the half.

Charleston was unable to equal Wisconsin’s size and quickness. A 48-16 scoring advantage in the lane and a 40-30 verdict on the boards helped Wisconsin capture a 75-49 victory. Devin Harris once again was the inspiration for Bo Ryan’s troops with 19 points on 7-11 shooting. Zach Morley brought energy off the bench with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Where would Indiana (6-5) be without Bracey Wright? Against North Texas, the Hoosiers would have had a certain loss. Playing 20 minutes from Wright’s hometown, The Colony, the sophomore exploded for 39 points in a 79-70 IU victory. Twenty eight of his points came in the first half as Wright converted his first nine shots. He would dial long distance six times throughout the evening, make 15-16 free throws and add seven rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Temple’s equally abysmal shooting performance allowed IU to avoid their third time blowout this season. The Hoosiers converted only 14 of 61 shots, while the Owls were a pedestrian’s pace better at 16-71.

The parade of missed shots made it possible for Temple to grab an Assembly Hall record 57 rebounds. They had entered the game snatching 33.4 caroms. David Hawkins led the Owls with 23 points on 8-26 from the floor.

After exploding at North Texas, Wright imploded against Temple’s trademark match up Zone. Wright finished the afternoon 3-17 and wasn’t alone in his masonry audition. IU point guard Ryan Tapak, a former walk-on that was inserted into the starting lineup against Morehead State, finished 3-11.

IU’s 23 percent shooting was its worst in almost 50 years. The 50 points scored was their lowest home output since 1985. The Hoosiers hit only 8-39 three-point attempts. The 39 attempts set a Hoosier record by five. Unless someone steps up to support Wright, the Hoosiers will be in danger of missing their first NCAA tournament since 1985.

Purdue (10-3) spent the New Year with a trip out west. They began the trip with a visit to Colorado State. The game was played about an hour from sophomore forward Matt Carroll’s hometown of Aurora in suburban Denver. The Boilers let a valiant comeback go to waste. Trailing by 13 with ten minutes to go, Purdue rallied to take a six point lead with eight seconds remaining.

Colorado State’s Matt Williams converted two free throws to cut Purdue’s lead to four. Brandon Mc Knight was fouled with 6.9 seconds left. Mc Knight had been hot, scoring 14 consecutive points for Purdue at one point during the Boilers’ rally. After missing the first free throw, Purdue was called for a lane violation on the second. The Rams Michael Morris nailed a long range bomb to bring Colorado State to within one with 0.7 seconds remaining. Williams deflected Purdue’s inbounds pass. During the timeout preceding the game’s final play, Ram boss Dale Layer instructed his players to grab any loose ball and shoot it in one motion. Morris took the advice to heart, capturing Williams’ deflection to hit a buzzer beater to give CSU an improbable 71-70 victory.

From Fort Collins, the Boilermakers moved on to Waco, Texas to face former Valparaiso coach Scott Drew and his Baylor Bears. The Boilermakers bounced back from a loss at Colorado State with a 76-65 victory at Baylor. The Boilers controlled the game from late in the first half on.

Brandon McKnight had entered the game against Colorado State averaging 6.3 points per game and a career high of 11. He posted two consecutive 20-point games and led Purdue with 23 against the Bears. Ivan Kartelo snared 13 rebounds, seven on the offensive end. McKnight’s increased scoring has coincided with Keady giving Austin Parkinson more playing time at the point.

The Boilermakers preceded their trip with an 82-62 victory over Evansville. Using their size advantage, Purdue outrebounded the Purple Aces 41-23. Kenneth Lowe led five Boilers in double figures with 17 and Brett Buscher finished with a season high 12.

Penn State (6-5) was unable to keep up with New Mexico’s bombs away attack as the Lobos defeated the Nittany Lions 82-63 in the Championship game of the Lobo invitational. UNM connected on 16-32 shots from beyond the arc. The damage came from perimeter and interior players. Danny Granger led New Mexico with 26 points and Javin Tindall shot an amazing 6-12 from beyond the arc and finished with 20 points overall.

The Lions did their best to match New Mexico with a 7-15 performance from long distance. Jan Jagla paced the Lions with 22 points and eight rebounds and made three of four three-point shots. Jagla and DeForrest Riley-Smith were named to the all tournament team.

Returning home, the Lions used a great defensive effort to knock off Bucknell 58-46. The Bison managed to shoot only 39 percent overall, including just 4-19 from long range. Riley-Smith’s decision to transfer left the Lions short handed, forcing DeChellis to use a six-man rotation. Freshmen guards Marlon Smith and Ben Luber played all 40 minutes. Playing wise beyond their years, Smith attained 15 points and Luber 11. Jagla once again paced Penn State with 17.

Michigan State (5-6) repeated its season long habit of winning against teams they were expected to beat, and losing to teams from major conferences. The Spartans tussled before disposing Coppin State 78-72 in their last game in 2003. Uncharacteristic of Tom Izzo’s most successful teams, the Spartans allowed Coppin State to convert 11-20 shots from three-point range and were outrebounded by the Eagles 29-21. Paul Davis, who has been MSU’s most consistent player all season, fronted the attack with 22 points on 8-9 from the floor. Kelvin Torbert took the message of being benched loud and clear bringing 21 off the bench. Chris Hill chipped in 18.

The last of a six pack of games that was targeted at the beginning of the season had Michigan State traveling to Syracuse. Losses against Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma, Kentucky and UCLA were tough enough. Defeating the defending National champs on their home court provided a daunting task.

The ‘Cuse jumped to a 9-0 lead and Michigan State never completely recovered. The Orangemen led the entire way. Syracuse had an answer for every Michigan State run. After the Spartans pulled within 40-34, the Orange went on a 15-0 run covering the last two minutes of the first half and first three of the second.

Michigan State pulled to 78-70, but Hakim Warrick scored nine points in a five-minute span late in the second half and Syracuse pulled away to a 96-83 victory. The 96 points were the most Michigan State had allowed in almost 11 years and the most during the Izzo era. The loss was their fifth straight to a ranked opponent. The Spartans did receive a pair of impressive offense performances. Davis had 21 and Hill 16 points and nine assists.

Ohio State’s (8-5) up and down season manifested itself going into the Big Ten season. Hosting Maryland-Baltimore County, the Buckeyes played stellar defensively in a 60-44 win. Velimir Radinovic dominated down low scoring all of his 19 points within five feet of the goal. Tony Stockman finished with 12 points as Jim O’ Brien inserted him back into the starting lineup. The new look was the Buckeyes fourth straight game with a new lineup.

Bob Knight returned to his alma mater and his Texas Tech Red Raiders were rude guests earning an 80-72 victory over the Buckeyes. All America candidate Andre Emmett was able to score at will finishing with an efficient 27 points and 11 rebounds. He hit 10-19 from the floor and 7-9 from the line. Texas Tech was a model Bob Knight team making 32 of its 53 shots and forcing Ohio State to connect on only 26 of 79.

Minnesota (7-4) fed into the Big Ten trend of beating the teams it was supposed to, but having trouble with teams from other BCS conferences. After holding a 32-31 halftime lead, Minnesota was thoroughly dominated by Nebraska in the second half. The Cornhuskers came into Williams Arena and pasted the Golden Gophers 46-28 after half time. Nebraska shot 52 percent and connected on 11-22 three point shots to end Minnesota’s seven-game home winning streak. Three point shots told the story as the Gophers hit only 5-24 from downtown. Kris Humphries continued to shine with 21 points and 10 rebounds, by made only 6-19 from the floor.

Before stinging Ohio State, Texas Tech throttled Minnesota on New Year’s Day with a 90-73 victory in Lubbock. Jarrius Jackson led five Red Raiders in double figures with 20 and Emmett finished with 17. Humphries starred yet again with 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

Minnesota was able to salvage the week by defeating Wofford, 82-70, at the Barn. The Gophers blew the doors off by opening the second half 33-8. They cranked up the defense holding Wofford without a field goal for a nine-minute span covering both halves. Maurice Hargrow had one of his best games of the season with 19 points and seven rebounds and Ben Johnson also had 19. Humphries finished with 28 points and 11 caroms.

Northwestern (5-6) suffered losses in a pair of winnable games at the Sun Classic in El Paso. The Jitim Young and Vedran Vukusic show is becoming a broken record for Bill Carmody. Vukusic finished with 26 and Young 20 as the Wildcats fell to Rutgers 73-70 in the first round. Herve Lamizana and Rick Shields dominated for the Scarlet Knights. Lamizana finished with 21 points and 15 boards and Shields led the Knight attack with 24.

In the consolation game, the ‘Cats matched up with Mississippi Valley State. Northwestern failed on numerous opportunities to put the game away late. The ‘Cats did not score in the game’s last 3:19 and were unable to capitalize on a 36-22 rebounding edge. Willie Neal’s put back off a miss by Attarius Norwood gave the Devils a 49-47 victory. Young finished with 18 points and eight rebounds to earn all tournament honors.

Like its conference mates Michigan (9-2) suffered an in excusable home loss. When Boston University visited Ann Arbor for a late December visit, they pulled a shocked and celebrated New Years a couple days early. The Terriers took better care of the ball than the Wolverines and used outstanding three-point defense to pull a 61-60 upset. Michigan turned the ball over 21 times to Boston U’s 14 and shot only 23 percent from beyond the arc.

The Wolverines were unable to convert a pair of late chances to win. Bernard Robinson jr. missed a six-foot jumper with six seconds remaining and the Terriers intercepted Big Blue’s desperation pass at the buzzer for the victory. Daniel Horton paced the Michigan attack with 15 and Lester Abram finished with 14. The loss was Michigan’s first at home this year. Ryan Butt led BU with 14.

The Wolverines were able to bounce back from their loss to Boston University with a win in “The World’s most famous Arena.” Michigan brought in the New Year in much better fashion than it ended the old one with 66-43 destruction of Fairfield.

Playing in the Dreyfus Big Saturday, the Wolverines used great balance and another strong defensive effort to garner their ninth victory of the season. Robinson finished with 19 and Horton 17 to lead four Wolverines in double figures. The 43 points were the least Michigan has allowed this year and the eighth time this season the Wolverines allowed 66 points or less.

Staying with the trend in the Big Ten, Iowa (7-3) split the final week of its schedule before conference play began.

The Hawkeyes rose the strong inside play of Jared Reiner and Greg Brunner to dismantle Eastern Illinois, 71-62. Brunner finished with 16 points, five assists and nine rebounds and Reiner contributed 12 points and six rebounds as the Black and Gold had too much muscle for the Panthers.

The Hawkeyes were unable to use the momentum from earlier in the week when they were completely dominated by an inconsistent Missouri team, losing 76-56 in Columbia. Quin Snyder used a new look by benching starters Arthur Johnson and Josh Kroenke and it seemed to provide a spark.

Iowa was unable to overcome poor performances from Johnson and Rickey Paulding. The Tigers leading scorers combined for 11 points. Travon Bryant picked up the slack with 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. The Hawks received a courageous performance from Pierre Pierce. Pierce overcame a dislocated ring finger earlier in the game to finish with 20 points. Reiner has another solid game with 12.

The Hawkeyes lack of offense from someone other than Pierce or Reiner did them in. A six and half minute drought in the first half and five and a half minute drought in the second helped Missouri build its lead. Iowa finished the game shooting 30 percent.

     

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