For the first time in the eleven years of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge the trophy is headed to the midwest thanks to three wins on Wednesday night. Wisconsin's 73-69 win over #5 Duke was the result that will get the headlines but it was Ohio State taking care of Florida State that officially clinched the win. But back to the Badgers, who showed once again why it isn't wise to doubt a Bo Ryan-coached team. Trevon Hughes led Wisconsin with twenty-six points and the Badgers finished even with Duke on the boards (32-32).
Of the twenty-six field goals made by Wisconsin seventeen were assisted and the Badgers finished the game with just four turnovers. Duke on the other hand had eleven assists and eleven turnovers, and despite Kyle Singler recovering from a tough afternoon against Connecticut with 28 points Jon Scheyer couldn't get his offense going. The senior was just 2-for-7 from the field with ten points and four assists.
Frontcourt players Lance Thomas and Brian Zoubek, who combined for twenty-two rebounds on Friday, had just six boards and no points between them. As Duke moves along towards bigger games and their ACC schedule they have to figure out how to get consistent play from these two. Wisconsin will move forward recognizing what they knew all along: they're going to be efficient on offense and stout on defense, and they'll be a team to pay attention to in the Big Ten. Seems like the rest of the nation needed a reminder of this.
Three Key Happenings
1. Illinois shows signs of life. The Fighting Illini likely had the most improbable victory, storming back from a 47-27 halftime deficit (down 51-28 at one point in the 2nd half) to steal a win at Clemson 76-74. It was almost as if the pressure heaped upon a team that dropped a pair of games at the Las Vegas Invitational was gone once they fell behind by that margin; no one in their right minds gave Bruce Weber's team a shot at coming back. Illinois got back into the game by shooting far better in the second half (60% FG, 50% 3PT) and limiting the Tigers to twenty-seven points. Mike Davis led Illinois with 22 points and PG Demetri McCamey came through with seven helpers despite playing a large stretch of the second half with four fouls. This could be a much-needed sprinboard for Illinois.
2. Tulsa puts up a dominant performance. The Golden Hurricane outrebounded Oklahoma State 42-24 on their way to an 85-64 win at home. Picked to finish atop the Conference USA standings alongside Memphis, the Golden Hurricane picked up a win that could have "staying power" for both team and conference come Selection Sunday. James Anderson had an off night from the field for the Cowboys, making just three of fifteen shots in the loss as Oklahoma State shot just 39.4% from the field (25% from three). Justin Hurtt led five Golden Hurricane in double figures with twenty-one.
3. New Mexico also did wonders for their resume. The Lobos needed a big non-conference win and they got just that at The Pit, beating #25 California 86-78. When looking at the Mountain West the discussion usually includes BYU, San Diego State, UNLV and Utah. It may be time to add Steve Alford's Lobos to the list of title contenders given their 7-0 record. They go ten guys deep and on this night outrebounded the Golden Bears 42-31 and Darington Hobson led the team with 22 points and fifteen rebounds despite taking just ten field goals. So long as each guy can accept his given role the Lobos have the potential to be a good team.
Top Three Games
1. Gonzaga 74, Washington State 69 Matt Bouldin's career high 28 points led a Bulldog comeback victory over the Cougars. Gonzaga trailed by as many as fifteen but the combo of Bouldin and Elias Harris (24 points, 12 rebounds) was ultimately too much for WSU.
2. UNLV 74, Arizona 72 (2OT) The Runnin' Rebels survived in Tucson thanks to 25 points from Tre'Von Willis on a night in which UNLV shot just 5-for-21 from behind the arc. Derrick Williams led the Wildcats with a career-high 28 points.
3. Cornell 104, Bucknell 98 (OT) The Big Red and Bison combined for thirty-six points in overtime and big man Jeff Foote led the winner with 28 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks and Ryan Wittman added 25. Bucknell, who had five players reach double figures, were led by Darryl Shazier's 22 points and eight assists.
Three Notable Performances
1. C Jeff Foote (Cornell) The seven-footer posted a line of 28, 18 and three blocks in Cornell's overtime win at Bucknell.
2. G Evan Turner (Ohio State) Turner was his usual, versatile self against Florida State, posting the stat line of 25 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the Buckeyes' 77-64 victory.
3. G Mfon Udofia (Georgia Tech) The freshman guard led the Yellow Jackets with 26 points and seven rebounds in their 74-61 win over Siena.