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Illinois sophomore Meyers Leonard has been turning heads all season long, but now that the Big Ten season underway, the rest of the Big Ten is about to see what this guy is all about. In Tuesday night’s Big Ten opener against Minnesota, the athletic 7-footer flashed his unusual skills on a highlight-reel alley-oop. Leonard set a pick, rolled to the hoop, and threw down a perfect pass from guard Brandon Paul with relative ease. Watch the play now.
Every Sunday night during the hoops season, BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina recaps the week that was on the men’s hardwood and hands out his weekly honors. See Brent’s latest installment, for action from Dec. 5-11, in this post. Also, watch Christian Watford’s last-second 3-pointer to stun No. 1 Kentucky and the resulting celebration Saturday at Assembly Hall. And get ready for the coming week of Big Ten action with our Big Ten scoreboard.
Nearly a month into the men’s hoops season, it’s clear the future of the Big Ten is in good hands. I say this because of the conference’s loaded sophomore class, one headlined by possible NBA departures Jared Sullinger and Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Big Ten Conference announced its latest Men’s Basketball Players of the Week for Nov. 28-Dec. 4. Three players were honored, including a player who has now been honored three times this season. See all the recipients in this post. Also, check out the women’s honorees.
Sometimes, it is how you lose. In the big picture, losing by 3 on Xavier’s home floor is no reason for Purdue fans to be upset. But that’s a tough sell in light of the fact that the Boilermakers enjoyed a 19-point lead with under 10 minutes to play. Matt Painter’s team dominated the first 30 minutes of the game on defense, forcing 20 turnovers. But over the final stretch, the Boilers forced two. Meanwhile, the Musketeers’ offense (especially Tu Holloway) came to life, and outscored Purdue 30-8 over the final quarter of the game. It should be noted that Robbie Hummel battled cramps throughout the game, and that certainly might have affected his performance down the stretch. But it’s no secret that Hummel isn’t the most durable player–even beyond his two ACL tears he’s missed games for smaller injuries. I don’t see why that would change this season, so Purdue should expect to be without its best player for at least stretches of games. What that means is that Matt Painter needs to find a second scorer to support Hummel while he’s healthy, and to lead the offense when he’s hurt.
It’s Monday, and there are no Big Ten men’s hoops games for the first time since Nov. 10. That means it’s the perfect time to release my latest power rankings. The rankings are not meant to mimic the Big Ten standings. What fun would that be? They aren’t scientific, either. They’re simply my thoughts on where each Big Ten team stands at that time. Agree? Disagree? Tweet @BTNBrentYarina.
If you’re fielding a dunk contest of only 7-footers, there might not be a better contestant than Illinois’ Meyers Leonard. The 7-foot-1 sophomore is an absolute freak of an athlete. People his size aren’t supposed to run the floor and move as smoothly and easily as he does. See what we’re talking about in this video of Leonard bringing down the house at Assembly Hall with a rim-rattling slam. Pretty impressive, huh?