Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, February 21, 2016
An interesting rivalry week ends with Indiana riding atop the Big Ten. But Iowa and Maryland are just one-half game and one game off the pace, respectively. That said, could Michigan State be the best team in the Big Ten?
Here?s a look back at the week that was.
BEST OF THE B1G
Best stat line: Denzel Valentine vs. Wisconsin. The Big Ten Player of the Year candidate had 24 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, leading No. 8 Michigan State to a 69-57 victory over previously white-hot Wisconsin on Thursday night. The star senior was three rebounds shy of his third triple-double of the season.
Denzel Valentine is the second major-conference player with 3-straight 20-pt, 10-ast games in the last 20 seasons. pic.twitter.com/h2JQk1KJuA— Michigan State Basketball (@MSU_Basketball) February 19, 2016
Best stat line, Part II: Ethan Happ vs. Illinois. Happ double-doubled (20 points, 12 rebounds) and added a career-high six steals in Wisconsin's comeback win vs. Illinois on Sunday night.
Best moment: Former Buckeye Evan Turner was on hand for a halftime ceremony in which his No. 21 jersey was raised to the rafters on Tuesday. Turner was the National Player of the Year in 2010. Numbers previously hung in the Value City Arena rafters for men's basketball are 5 (John Havlicek), 11 (Jerry Lucas), 22 (Jimmy Jackson) and 35 (Gary Bradds).
Best dunk: Denzel Valentine vs. Wisconsin. Valentine does a lot of things on the court, but dunking isn't one of the first few things that comes to mind. Don't be fooled, though, because the do-it-all star can impress in the air. Check out the proof.
Best stat: With Saturday night's win vs. No. 17 Purdue, Indiana improved to 16-0 this season in Assembly Hall and 17-2 in its last 19 home games against Top 25 opponents.
Best interview: Joey King postgame interview. It's been a long, frustrating season for winless Minnesota, and that was evident by the emotion in King's postgame interview following Minnesota's upset victory vs. No. 6 Maryland on Thursday night.
Best court storm: Minnesota fans swarmed Williams Arena on Thursday after watching the Gophers stun No. 6 Maryland, 68-63, to notch the team?s first Big Ten triumph.
There was this court storm at Penn State, too, following the Nitanny Lions' upset over No. 4 Iowa.
Did you see this? You see players slap the floor all of the time following a basket. You don't often see a player burned by slapping the floor. It happened to Jae'Sean Tate in the closing minutes in regulation of Ohio State's overtime victory Saturday night at Nebraska. At least, Tate was a good sport about it.
B1G STOCK WATCH
Stock up: Michigan State. The Spartans may have two more losses than Big Ten leaders Iowa and Indiana, but you can make an argument for them being the best team in the Big Ten. This club has a renewed commitment to defense and is getting sensational play from Denzel Valentine. MSU is 6-1 since a three-game slide, with the only loss being by one point in OT at Purdue.
Stock down: Purdue. The Boilermakers are 2-3 in their last five games. And, there?s a good chance this team could lose the rest of its games with Maryland coming to WL on Saturday followed by a game at Nebraska and a season-ending visit from Wisconsin. Bottom line: Purdue may finish 9-9 in the Big Ten after dreaming of a conference title in October.
Biggest surprise: Penn State is trying to finish strong as it aims for some type of postseason bid. And the Nittany Lions? hopes were helped by winning their last two, including 79-75 win vs. visiting Iowa last week. PSU has a good shot to go 3-1 in its last four games.
Biggest disappointment: Maryland. Yes, the Terrapins were without suspended center Diamond Stone when they lost at Minnesota. Still, it?s a crusher for a first-place Big Ten team to fall to an 0-13 Big Ten club. The defeat pushed Maryland out of a first-place tie. Melo Trimble is struggling. He has 13 assists and 18 turnovers in the last three games-1-2 record-hitting 7-of-35 shots with 34 points.
Nate Mason had 18 points, six rebounds and six assists to help Minnesota get its first Big Ten win of the season with a stunning 68-63 upset of No. 6 Maryland, the Golden Gophers' first victory in more than two months.
Troy Williams tallied 18 points, on 8-of-9 shooting, in No. 22 Indiana's 80-64 victory over Nebraska on Wednesday night, and added 19 points in the Hoosiers' 77-73 rivalry victory vs. Purdue on Saturday. Add it all up, and Williams became the 49th Indiana player to score 1,000 points in his career.
JaQuan Lyle scored all 19 of his points after halftime, including six in overtime, to carry Ohio State to a 65-62 victory over Nebraska on Saturday.
A.J. Hammons had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Johnny Hill added a season-high 15 points to help No. 17 Purdue get past Northwestern 71-61 on Tuesday night.
Donovon Jack scored 19 points, on 8-of-9 shooting, leading the Nittany Lions to a 79-75 victory over the No. 4 Hawkeyes on Wednesday. It was Penn State?s second victory over a Top 25 team in two weeks. The Nittany Lions also beat No. 22 Indiana 68-63 on Feb. 6.
Mark Donnal poured in 25 points, on 10-of-13 from the field, and added five rebounds and a career-high five blocks, in Michigan's loss Sunday at No. 6 Maryland.
Shep Garner scored 20 points and dished out four assists, and Brandon Taylor had a double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead Penn State past the Scarlet Knights 70-58 on Saturday.
Robert Carter Jr. scored 17 points as sixth-ranked Maryland bounced back from consecutive losses with an 86-82 victory over Michigan on Sunday.
Battling through a hamstring injury, Illinois? Malcolm Hill tallied 22 points and 10 rebounds in an 82-66 win vs. Rutgers on Tuesday, his sixth double-double of the season.
Jonathan Laurent posted a pair of double-doubles for winless and depleted Rutgers, going for 18 points and 11 rebounds at Illinois on Tuesday and 19 points and 15 rebounds vs. Penn State on Saturday.
Purdue has not lost consecutive games.
The Scarlet Knights played this week without leading-scorer Corey Sanders, who was dealt a two-week suspension Monday for violating team rules.
The Terps played without big man Diamond Stone in Thursday's loss at Minneosta, due to a one-game suspension for his actions in the team's previous game vs. Wisconsin.
Prior to Saturday, the Hoosiers had not beaten the Boilermakers since Feb. 16, 2013.
Indiana G Nick Zeisloft has 51 3-pointers, more than any other Big Ten reserve.
Purdue is 14-0 on weeknights this season but 7-7 on Saturday or Sunday following the latest week of action.
The Nittany Lions are riding back-to-back wins for the first time since ending the non-conference schedule on a three-game winning streak.
Michigan?s Caris LeVert has missed 13 games with a lower-left leg injury; the Wolverines are 7-6 without him.
Michigan State limited Wisconsin star Nigel Hayes to five points, 12 below his team-high scoring average, on 1-of-13 shooting.
Minnesota's upset win vs. No. 6 Maryland on Thursday night was its first Big Ten regular-season win since beating Michigan State on Feb. 26, 2015, and its first win of any kind since downing Chicago State on Dec. 16.
Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig has hit at least one 3-pointer in 37 consecutive games.
Maryland's Melo Trimble went 6-of-21 from the field this week, making him 10 of his last 48 (21 percent). Trimble also committed 13 turnovers on the week.
Rutgers has now lost 13 straight games, all in Big Ten play. The Scarlet Knights are 2-29 in conference play since joining the Big Ten in the 2014-15 season.
Rutgers remains winless in the Big Ten at 0-14. They are on a 29-game losing streak in the Big Ten dating back to last season. The Scarlet Knights won their first Big Ten game against Penn State, 50-46 at home.
Wisconsin trailed by 13 points with just over 12 minutes remaining vs. Illinois on Sunday night, and it rallied for a 69-60 victory, marking its largest comeback win since 2011.
"We knew our time was coming. It just took a little longer than expected." – Minnesota?s Joey King, after a stunning upset of Maryland on Thursday that ended the Gophers? 14-game losing skid.
"I can start going inside to Starbucks instead of going through the drive-thru." – Minnesota coach Richard Pitino, after an upset win vs. Maryland on Thursday ended a 14-game losing skid.
"I'm just mad at him. He got tired. He could've had a few more rebounds." – Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, on Denzel Valentine missing a triple-double vs. Wisconsin.
"I couldn't have done it without my teammates, (Taylor) and Shep passing me the ball. It was all I could hope for. A big win for us." – Penn State?s Donovon Jack, after Penn State's upset victory vs. No. 4 Iowa.
"I've got to figure out a way to get us going again. We're not ourselves." – Maryland coach Mark Turgeon, after his team got upset at Minnesota on Thursday, its second loss in a row.
"We took really bad shots. We just lost our minds, in a sense." – Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan, after a loss at Illinois on Tuesday.
"The rim was messing with us today." Ohio State's JaQuan Lyle, after the Buckeyes shot 38.9 percent in an overtime win at Nebraska.
"This is a painful loss. If you don't feel this at the depth of your soul as a player or coach, you're not a competitor." – Nebraska coach Tim Miles, after Nebraska's overtime loss to Ohio State.
And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.