Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, January 25, 2015

Another week of Big Ten hoops is in the books, and senior writer Tom Dienhart takes a look at some of the best from the fourth week of conference play.

Biggest surprise: Nebraska. Don?t look now, but the Cornhuskers are coming on. Nebraska has won two games in a row and four of five to improve to 4-3 in the Big Ten. Last year, the Huskers started 0-4 in Big Ten play but went on to finish fourth with an 11-7 record.

Biggest disappointment: Iowa. The Hawkeyes began the week tied atop the Big Ten standings with just one loss. But Iowa fell twice, getting ripped by 32 points at Wisconsin and then getting clipped at Purdue by four. Will the real Hawkeyes please stand up?

Top player: Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell: The star freshman averaged 27.5 points, including a career-high 33 in a win at Northwestern, 6.5 rebounds and eight assists in two victories; he shot 66 percent (21-of-32) and had just three turnovers, to boot.

Top stat line: Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell vs. Indiana – 9-15, 22 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, two steals, three turnovers.

Top moment: #AveryStrong. If you don't know the story, you need to check it out. There was a very good reason for all of the gold at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Sunday night. Following the game, Avery Harriman, the young son of Nebraska assistant Chris Harriman who has leukemia, thanks all of his fans.

Most-talked-about moment: ESPN color commentator Dan Dakich calling Iowa big man Adam Woodbury ?gutless? and saying he should be suspended after he poked Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes in the eyes. Dakich felt Woodbury used his fingers to intentionally gouge their eyes. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery defended his player.

"Danny Dakich is completely out of line," McCaffery said after the game. "He crossed the line. He is out of line. He is not right. It was an accident. Adam Woodbury would never, ever, ever do that. Ever do that."

Later, Dakich Tweeted: "I'm not even a little 'out of line."

Top dunk: What's more rare than a dunk on the opening play of a game? A highlight-reel alley-oop on the opening play, of course. That's how Michigan State and Branden Dawson opened Wednesday's game vs. Penn State.

Top pass: Last week, D'Angelo Russell's ridiculous one-handed screwball pass didn't result in a made basket/assist. This week, at Northwestern, Russell's latest one-handed jawdropper resulted in two points. It was an absolute beauty!


Stock up: Ohio State. The Buckeyes have won two in a row and three of four games to get into the league title chase with a 5-3 Big Ten mark. The 82-70 win vs. Indiana on Sunday was Ohio State?s first against a ranked foe this season. If this team can defend and rebound with some consistency, it could be a factor.

Stock down: Michigan State. This isn?t a vintage Spartans team. In fact, it may be the weakest of the Tom Izzo era. MSU only beat Penn State by six points at home on Wednesday, then lost at Nebraska on Saturday. The Spartans needed OT to subdue Northwestern in East Lansing a week earlier followed by a 16-point loss at Maryland.



Rapheal Davis scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half to lead the Purdue Boilermakers to a 67-63 victory over No. 25 Iowa on Saturday.

Freshman D?Angelo Russell scored a career-high 33 points, and Ohio State overcame an early deficit to beat Northwestern, 69-67, on Thursday. Russell liked the effort so much, he took a bow at the midcourt logo. He followed that with a 22-point, 10-assist and six-rebound effort in an 82-70 victory vs. Indiana on Sunday.

Terran Petteway scored a season-high 32 points, as Nebraska held off Michigan State, 79-77, on Saturday.

Yogi Ferrell scored 24 points to lead No. 23 Indiana to an 89-70 win over No. 13 Maryland on Thursday, and added 26 points in Sunday's loss at Ohio State.

Frank Kaminsky had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 6 Wisconsin relied on tough defense to rout No. 25 Iowa 82-50 on Tuesday. In Saturday night's overtime win at Michigan, Kaminsky just missed another double-double (22 points, 9 rebounds) .

Branden Dawson had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots to help Michigan State outlast Penn State 66-60 on Wednesday. In Saturday's loss at Nebraska, he exploded for 18 rebounds, which tied his career-high.

Leron Black battled against Purdue's 7-2 Isaac Haas and 7-foot A.J. Hammons, coming away with 15 points, 13 rebounds to lead Illinois to a 66-57 win.

Melo Trimble scored 27 points and had five steals to help Maryland rally past Northwestern on Sunday night.



"That was probably four years of frustration. Our kids compete. They try. Let us decide the game. People look at Penn State differently, and I'm tired of it. But I hurt my team tonight." – Penn State coach Pat Chambers, who got a technical, after he felt the officials did his team no favors in a 66-60 loss at Michigan State on Wednesday.

"It's just natural, they're young, their leader is down and you have to convince them. And now it gives credence to 'You can do things. You can get blown out as well but you can win again. You just have to stay together, play together, play smart basketball.'" – Michigan coach John Beilein, on his team?s first game without injured Caris LeVert, a 54-50 win at Rutgers on Tuesday.

"Ugly, but it's a win. A win is a win. Some pretty good things, some bad things in this game. We'll take it. We've got to. Now is the time we have to make our run." – Nebraska?s Terran Petteway, on his team's 52-49 win vs. Minnesota on Tuesday.

"I thought Leron Black was the best player on the floor and it wasn't even close. He just played so much harder than our guys." – Purdue coach Matt Painter after his team lost 66-57 at Illinois on Wednesday.

"They have great respect for Maryland, we have great respect for Maryland, they knew it was a big deal and they wanted to see where they stood." – Indiana coach Tom Crean on his team?s 89-70 win vs. Maryland on Thursday.

"He's one of the best players in the country. I don't say that very often because I let other people judge. Frank means a lot to this team." – Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, on Frank Kaminsky after the overtime win at Michigan.

"We have to learn how to win." – Northwestern head coach Chris Collins, on his team's latest close loss at Maryland



Iowa star Aaron White suffered a stinger early in Saturday's loss at Purdue, and Iowa tweeted that he is day-to-day and will be reevaluated Wednesday. The Hawkeyes don't play until Saturday, when they host Wisconsin.

Nebraska didn?t hit a field goal in the final eight minutes but still beat Minnesota, 52-49.

Five of the Gophers' six conference losses have been by five points or less.

On Tuesday vs. Minnesota, Nebraska?s Terran Petteway reached 1,000 points in his career with a 3-point basket.

The Badgers have won three in a row since point guard Traevon Jackson injured his foot at Rutgers on Jan. 11.

With a block late in the first half vs. Purdue, Nnanna Egwu broke the Illini career blocked-shots record. Deon Thomas had held the record at 177 since 1994. Egwu finished with five on Wednesday, giving him a career total of 179.

Ohio State coach Thad Matta who his 125th Big Ten game this week, tying him with Tom Davis of Iowa for 15th in league history.

Purdue ended a 13-game losing streak vs. ranked foes when it downed No. 25 Iowa on Saturday.

The Gophers retired the jersey of former star center Randy Breuer on Saturday. The 7-3 Breuer helped lead the Gophers to the 1982 Big Ten title and went on to an 11-year career in the NBA. Breuer is third on the program's all-time scoring list. His was the ninth jersey to be retired with a banner in the rafters.

The 28-point win over Rutgers on Saturday was Penn State's largest margin of victory since December 2011 against Mount St. Mary's (29) and largest in conference play since 1998 against Northwestern (38).

About Tom Dienhart senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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