Aaron Craft is a very good defensive player. Let’s get that out of the way. Whatever you think of the next few paragraphs, remember that we all agree that Craft’s defense would improve just about any collegiate basketball team.
Matt Gatens scored 33 points and grabbed three rebounds to lift Iowa to a 67-66 upset win over No. 15 Wisconsin on Thursday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Iowa (15-13) shot 48 percent from the field (24-of-50). It was the second straight career-high for Gatens, who had 30 points in Iowa’s win over then-No. 18 Indiana on Sunday (full recap). Iowa fans rushed the court (see the video in this post) to celebrate the win.
Last Tuesday, we watched Illinois and Michigan State fight it out to a 42-41 final. A week later, Ohio State and Purdue matched that point total on the first possession of the second half in an entertaining 87-84 Ohio State win. Both teams used outstanding three-point shooting and minuscule turnover rates to power themselves above 1.30 points per trip, marking a season-high output for both sides.
With about 10 seconds remaining, Northwestern had succeeded in holding Purdue’s Robbie Hummel, Ryne Smith, and Lewis Jackson to a combined 17 points. That trio spearheads the Boilermaker offense, which has stalled at times this season when one of those three is having an off night. And in Purdue’s final possession, with the game tied, Northwestern played some of its best defense of the season, forcing Robbie Hummel into a contested mid-range jumper from the baseline.
Michigan picked up its first road win of the season in a hard fought two-point victory over Purdue. This was a mild upset, as Vegas had the homestanding Boilermakers favored by five points and KenPom had Purdue by four. This outcome certainly changes the season outlook for both squads.
Up is down. In is out. Black is white. Welcome to Big Ten basketball 2012, a season filled with twists and turns that have jumbled the race (standings). And the conference season isn’t even half over. This past week was filled with tumult that scrambled the league standings and made one thing perfectly clear: This is going to be a wild race for the Big Ten championship.
Five Big Ten men’s basketball players have been named candidates for the Bob Cousy Award, handed out annually to the nation’s top collegiate point guard. The list includes Michigan’s Trey Burke, Ohio State’s Aaron Craft, Penn State’s Tim Frazier, Purdue’s Lewis Jackson and Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor. See the complete list of candidates here.
Purdue point guard Lewis Jackson stands 5-foot-9, a generous figure to many people who know him. So it comes as no surprise that the senior entered Wednesday’s game with no career dunks. That all changed against Western Michigan, though, as Jackson threw down for the first time in a game. And what a first jam it was. Something tells us Jackson won’t soon forget this poke. Watch the powerful dunk now.