Purdue’s Basil Smotherman threw down the kind of dunk that drops jaws in the second half of Sunday’s win over Rider. The freshman drove and exploded for a left-handed posterizing dunk that delighted the Mackey Arena faithful. Former Flyin’ Illini star Stephen Bardo, the color commentator for the game, liked what he saw, too, saying: “Putting Rider on a poster. They’re for the sale in the lobby coming up.”
Week 12 of the Big Ten football season is here. Can you believe it? Here is a rundown of the upcoming games on Saturday and a recap of this week’s news leading up to the big weekend ahead.
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
The Big Ten suffered its first losses over the past couple nights, and we learned just a little bit more about the shape of this conference. Let’s dive in. In a formula that might become common this season, Illinois struggled to score over Valparaiso’s length but did enough on defense to secure the victory. After facing two decidedly smaller teams to open the season, Illinois had trouble converting over Valpo’s big and experienced frontline. In fact, the Illini’s 35.6 effective field goal percentage is the lowest mark of the John Groce era, and last season’s team wasn’t exactly a collection of sharpshooters.
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Both Illinois and Purdue notched impressive early season wins Wednesday night. Purdue blew out Central Connecticut 109-73, while Illinois edged out Valparaiso, 64-52. In the third Big Ten game of the evening, Penn State fell to Bucknell, 80-90. Get game recaps, stats and video highlights from all three games in this post.
In the night’s top matchup, Michigan State ran out to an early 10-0 lead against a young Kentucky team and did just enough the rest of the way to pick up a very big win. It was a tale of two halves, as the Spartans made the Wildcats look slow and disorganized over the first 20 minutes.
Most of the Big Ten cruised to easy wins over cupcakes—with one notable exception—but the Wisconsin Badgers faced a formidable challenge against St. John’s. The Red Storm was mediocre last year, but the team returned everyone, including a healthy dose of rising sophomores. The team is expected to be much-improved, much like Wisconsin’s offense.