Saturday Snacks: Kansas, Michigan State and Pitt earn big home wins

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source: AP
(AP)

GAME OF THE DAY: Montana 83, Northern Colorado 81 (3OT)

The Grizzlies won a wild one in Greeley, with Jordan Gregory making two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining in triple overtime. Gregory scored 20 points and Brandon Gfeller, whose three-pointer with two tenths of a second remaining sent the game into triple overtime, scored 21 to lead the way for Montana. Tevin Svihovec led three Bears in double figures with 23 points. As a result of their win and Eastern Washington’s loss to Portland State, Montana is back to within a game of first place (in the loss column) in the Big Sky.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Michigan State 59, No. 23 Ohio State 56

The Spartans needed a home win against a ranked opponent and Denzel Valentine delivered the game-winner on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s game-high 17 points was a huge lift for Michigan State and a win puts them among the 4-loss logjam in the Big Ten.

2. Pitt 89, No. 12 North Carolina 76

Pitt has had an up-and-down season, but they’ve won four straight games at home, including wins against Notre Dame and the Tar Heels. Sheldon Jeter led the Panthers with 22 points and he led Pitt with six double-figure scorers. Many people wrote the Panthers out of the NCAA Tournament conversation, but if they keep picking up big conference wins, they’ll be a team to track going forward. As for North Carolina, Marcus Paige struggled to a 3-for-11 performance and 8 points as the Tar Heels were led by 19 from Brice Johnson and 15 from Kennedy Meeks.

3. No. 8 Kansas 74, No. 16 Baylor 64

The Jayhawks held many Baylor stars in check and did a great job of closing in the final minutes of a Big 12 home win. Perry Ellis and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 18 points and Frank Mason chipped in 15 points to help with the scoring for Kansas. Baylor had 3-for-17 shooting from Royce O’Neale, Johnathan Motley and Lester Medford certainly didn’t help. Rico Gathers had 18 and Kenny Chery had 17, but it wasn’t enough for the Bears. Kansas trailed by 13 in this one early but patiently stayed the course and made a comeback over time.

4. NC State 74, No. 9 Louisville 65

The Wolfpack, who already have a home win over No. 4 Duke on their resume, picked up a huge road win Saturday afternoon. Cat Barber scored a season-high 21 points and dished out four assists with just two turnovers, and Trevor Lacey added 14 with BeeJay Anya and Caleb Martin grabbing ten rebounds apiece. The best number for NC State on Saturday: eight, as in the number of turnovers they committed against a Louisville team known for its pressure defense. Louisville shot 32.8% from the field, and without the live-ball turnovers that help them make up for their offensive deficiencies Rick Pitino’s team struggled.

RELATEDSaturday’s Bubble Banter

STARRED

1. Robert Morris forward Aaron Tate

Tate only had four points and six rebounds, but he made a game-winning, tip-in at the buzzer for the win over Central Connecticut State.

2. Dayton’s Jordan Sibert

The guard played a tremendous floor game for the Flyers and was everywhere as he went for 24 points, seven steals, five rebounds, three assists and a block in a win over St. Bonaventure. Sibert was 6-for-13 from the floor, 3-for-8 from 3-point range and 9-for-11 from the free-throw line.

3. St. John’s Sir’Dominic Pointer

The do-it-all wing was efficient and outstanding in multiple facets of the game in a big Red Storm win over Xavier. Pointer had 24 points on 9-for-10 shooting with five rebounds, four steals and two blocks. St. John’s had an important Big East road game and Pointer came to play.

4. Villanova’s Darrun Hilliard

Hilliard hit eight three-pointers and scored 31 points in the Wildcats’ 68-65 win at No. 18 Butler. His final three-pointer, made with 1.5 seconds remaining, was the game-winner.

STRUGGLED

1. Baylor’s Lest3r Medford

Plenty struggled on Baylor’s offense on Saturday, but Medford had five points on 1-for-5 shooting and five fouls in the loss to Kansas.

2. South Carolina

The Gamecocks haven’t shot well in either of their losses to No. 1 Kentucky. Saturday they shot 23.6% from the field, and that percentage was an improvement on where their numbers were at the under-4 media timeout (18.8% FG).

3. UConn’s Rodney Purvis and Terrence Samuel

Purvis and Samuel combined to score six points on 2-for-13 shooting in the Huskies’ 73-55 loss at SMU.

4. Tennessee’s Willie Carmichael III, Robert Hubbs and Kevin Punter

While Josh Richardson and Armani Moore combined to score 31 points, the Volunteers’ other three starters combined to score five points on 2-for-11 shooting in a 73-55 loss to LSU.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Kentucky moved to 25-0 with their 77-43 win over South Carolina. The Gamecocks shot 23.6% from the field on the afternoon.
  • No. 20 VCU ended its two-game losing streak, winning 79-66 at George Washington. Treveon Graham (ankle) made his return for the Rams, who are tied atop the Atlantic 10 with Dayton and Rhode Island.
  • Monte Morris scored 19 points and Abdel Nader added 16 off the bench as No. 14 Iowa State took care of No. 21 West Virginia, 79-59.
  • No. 2 Virginia survived, holding on to beat Wake Forest 61-60 in Charlottesville. Kostantinos Mitoglou proved to be a matchup problem for Virginia, hitting five three-pointers, but the tandem of Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon was able to do enough to lead the Cavaliers to the win.
  • No. 6 Villanova beat No. 18 Butler 68-65 on a Darrun Hilliard three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining.
  • No. 4 Duke didn’t get off to the best start at Syracuse, but the rebounded in the second half to win 80-72. Jahlil Okafor scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and former Blue Devil Michael Gbinije scored 27 for Syracuse.
  • No. 15 Wichita State won 68-62 at Illinois State, with Ron Baker leading the way offensively with 19 points.
  • After racking up three straight wins over ranked teams, No. 21 Oklahoma State fell 70-55 at TCU.
  • No. 3 Gonzaga has now won 40 straight home games, as they beat Pepperdine 56-48.
  • No. 25 SMU is now in sole possession of first place in the American after the whipped UConn 73-55 in Dallas. Outside of the chance to get closer to the top of the league standings nothing changes for the reigning national champions, who will need to win the conference tournament to go dancing.
  • Marcus Foster beat No. 17 Oklahoma for the second time this season, hitting a three-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the 59-56 victory.
  • Dez Wells scored 22 points and Melo Trimble added 20 as No. 19 Maryland held on to beat Penn State 76-73 in Happy Valley.
  • A Manuale Watkins basket with 6.4 seconds remaining gave No. 24 Arkansas a 71-70 win at Ole Miss. As a result, the Razorbacks are now in sole possession of second place in the SEC.

NOTABLES

  • Memphis picked up an easy American road win at South Florida as Shaq Goodwin had 18 points and nine rebounds and the Tiger bench scored 35 points.
  • Clemson jumped out to a 19-4 lead on Virginia Tech and never looked back. Jordan Roper was 5-for-6 from 3-point range and had 21 points in the Tiger ACC victory.
  • Georgia State was without Sun Belt leading scorer Ryan Harrow, who missed due to concussion-like symptoms, but R.J. Hunter stepped up with 17 points as the Panthers won 53-41 against Texas State.
  • Winthrop guard Keon Moore had 27 points on 6-for-10 shooting to lift the Eagles over Gardner-Webb.
  • Stephen F. Austin’s 33-game win streak in Southland games came to an end Saturday, as they lost 71-63 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Lumberjacks are now tied with Sam Houston State atop the Southland standings (10-1).
  • Temple won its seventh straight game, beating East Carolina 66-53 in Philadelphia. Next up for the Owls are games against No. 25 SMU and Tulsa.
  • UCLA won for the fifth time in its last six games, beating Oregon 72-63 in Los Angeles. The Bruins still have a lot of work to do when it comes to getting an NCAA tournament bid, but they have the talent to do it.
  • Saint Mary’s avoided a loss that would not have looked good on their resume, winning 69-62 at San Diego in overtime. The Gaels host No. 3 Gonzaga next Saturday.
  • There are no more winless teams in college basketball, as Florida A&M beat North Carolina A&T 57-50. The Rattlers lost their first 23 games of the season.
  • Murray State has clinched the regular season OVC title, meaning that at the very least Steve Prohm’s team has wrapped up a Postseason NIT berth. The Racers beat Southeast Missouri State 94-92 in overtime, winning their 21st consecutive game.
  • UTEP is now alone atop the Conference USA standings after they beat Old Dominion 62-47 in El Paso. The Miners are 10-3, with Western Kentucky dropping to 9-3 as a result of their loss at Marshall.
  • UC Davis (9-1 Big West) was off, but their lead in the Big West is up to two games as UC Irvine (7-3) lost at UC Riverside 70-63.
  • San Diego State is now a game ahead of Boise State in the loss column atop the Mountain West, as the Aztecs took care of Colorado State 72-63 and the Broncos lost 70-64 at Fresno State.

Gardner, No. 3 Virginia rally for 70-68 win at Michigan

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Tony Bennett’s team passed all its tests in the opening month of the season.

Jayden Gardner made a go-ahead jumper with 39.9 seconds left and blocked Jett Howard’s 3-point shot just before the buzzer, allowing No. 3 Virginia to stay undefeated with a 70-68 win over Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (6-0) won their first true road game against a team that was ranked in the first two polls this season, a little more than a week after beating then-No. 5 Baylor and then-No. 19 Illinois in Las Vegas.

“It got pretty intense in here,” Bennett said.

Virginia trailed by 11 points at halftime, rallied to go ahead with 7:25 left and built a five-point lead that didn’t last.

The Wolverines (5-2) went ahead 66-65 at the 1:42 mark when Hunter Dickinson made one of two free throws.

Michigan missed chances to stay or go ahead when Dickinson missed a hook shot with 1:01 to go and Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn turned the ball over with 16 seconds left.

“Hunter has made that running hook before,” coach Juwan Howard said. “The turnover, yes, down the stretch, it hurt, but overall that’s not the reason we lost the ballgame.

“We could’ve easily put our heads down when they came out in the second half and made a run.”

Reece Beekman, who finished with 18 points, stepped in front of Llewellyn’s pass in the final minute and made one of two free throws.

Virginia’s Armaan Franklin missed two free throws with 5.7 seconds left, giving Michigan a chance to extend or win the game. Howard took a contested shot beyond the 3-point arc on the right wing – near his father, Michigan’s coach – and Gardner came up with the block against the freshman guard while Wolverines coaches and players screamed for a foul call.

It appeared that Gardner got all ball on the block.

Kihei Clark scored 16 points, Gardner had 12, Kadin Shedrick fouled out with 12 points and Ben Vander Plas added 10 for the balanced Cavaliers.

“You need different guys, and that’s what it takes, to make plays offensively and defensively,” Bennett said.

Dickinson scored 23 points, Jett Howard had 11 of his 15 in the first half and Kobe Bufkin added 11 points for Michigan.

“Jett is a gamer, he’s going to compete no matter what,” Juwan Howard said. “He’s loved basketball since he was a little baby boy.

“He’s going to help us win a lot of games this year.”

The Wolverines started slowly, trailing 9-2 in the opening minutes, before Howard scored eight points to lead a 13-2 run. Michigan led 45-34 at halftime when Bufkin made a layup after a steal.

“We can’t be sloppy like that on the defensive end, but we did battle hard in the second half,” Bennett said.

Vander Plas scored nine points during an 11-2 run that put Virginia ahead 65-60. The Cavaliers then went 4 1/2 minutes without a basket before Gardner’s big shot.

THE TAKEAWAY

Virginia: The Cavaliers have their highest ranking since the 2018-19 season – which ended with a national title – and are off to their best start since being 7-0 three years ago. The team continues to honor the memory of three football players who were fatally shot on campus earlier this month, wearing warmup jerseys with their names.

Michigan: Juwan Howard’s team matched up well in its first game against a ranked opponent this season.

“When we come out with the effort like we did today for 40 minutes, I love our chances against any college team in the country,” he said.

UP NEXT

Virginia: Hosts Florida State (1-7) on Saturday.

Michigan: Plays No. 19 Kentucky (5-2) on Sunday in London.

Marquette’s defense overwhelms No. 6 Baylor in 96-70 win

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE – Marquette has developed a habit under Shaka Smart of saving its top performances for the best opponents on its schedule.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper scored 24 points and Marquette capitalized on a dominant start from its defense to roll past No. 6 Baylor 96-70 on Tuesday night in the Big 12-Big East Battle. This was the highest-ranked team Marquette (6-2) has beaten under Smart and the Golden Eagles improved to to 7-6 against AP Top 25 squads in his tenure.

“Most of the time against these great teams, they don’t have us winning that game,” said David Joplin, who scored 19 points. “We just come out, we want to go out and prove everybody wrong. And that feeling, that chip makes us play so much better.”

Marquette nearly produced its most lopsided victory against a Top 25 team. The Golden Eagles trounced No. 16 Providence 88-56 on Jan. 4 in Smart’s debut season.

“When you go into a game and the game is bigger in the minds of your players than anything else, to me that’s the best recipe for winning,” Smart said. “It should be that way all the time, but human nature sometimes messes with that.”

Marquette’s defense embarrassed a highly regarded Baylor backcourt.

The Golden Eagles raced to a 51-25 halftime lead thanks to a 24-0 edge in points off turnovers. Baylor (5-2) already had a season-high 16 turnovers by halftime.

Baylor entered Tuesday ranked third among Division I teams in assist-turnover margin. The Bears had 20 turnovers and 12 assists against Marquette.

“I didn’t see that coming,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Credit the crowd. Credit them for building momentum. Credit Shaka for having them prepared and how hard they played. At the end of the day, we fed to the fire by turning it over and making some uncharacteristic mistakes.”

Prosper scored 10 points and sank two 3-pointers during a 23-2 run that turned an early 7-2 deficit into a 25-9 advantage. Chase Ross capped the spurt by getting a steal and throwing down a left-handed dunk.

Baylor never cut Marquette’s lead below 22 points in the second half.

Kam Jones had 20 points as Marquette shot 58.3% overall to win its third straight. The Golden Eagles shot 12 of 25 from 3-point range, with Jones going 4 of 7 and Prosper and Joplin each going 3 of 4.

Baylor’s LJ Cryer had 17 of his 19 points, in the second half. Adam Flagler had 16 and Keyonte George added 12 for the Bears.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: The Bears shot 48.2% (27 of 56) but had no answers for Marquette’s defense and dug too deep a hole. Baylor rallied from a 25-deficit to force overtime in an NCAA Tournament loss to North Carolina last season, but the Bears never mounted any kind of comeback Tuesday.

Marquette: After losing to Purdue and Mississippi State earlier this season, the Golden Eagles delivered the kind of performance that showed they’re capable of beating anyone. Marquette will try to prove that again when it hosts Wisconsin on Saturday.

BIG 12 VS. BIG EAST

The Big 12-Big East Battle started Tuesday and runs through Sunday. Last season’s Big 12-Big East Battle ended in a 5-5 tie.

HONORING THOMPSON

Marquette came out of its locker room wearing shirts with No. 24 to honor George Thompson, who died in June of complications from diabetes. Thompson played for Marquette from 1967-69, and he was the school’s career scoring leader for 40 years.

Tuesday would have been Thompson’s 75th birthday. A No. 24 banner with Thompson’s name hangs from the Fiserv Forum rafters.

“I really felt like we needed to win tonight to honor George,” Smart said. “If you make it George Thompson Night, you couldn’t lose.”

UP NEXT

Baylor: Faces No. 14 Gonzaga on Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Marquette: Hosts Wisconsin on Saturday.

Houston reaches No. 1 in AP poll for first time since 1983

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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Make some room, Phi Slama Jama. Another Houston team has reached the top of men’s college basketball.

Nearly four decades after Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon took the Cougars to No. 1, the latest bunch led by Marcus Sasser and star freshman Jarace Walker took over the top spot in the AP Top 25. They received 45 of 63 first-place votes from the national media panel, easily outdistancing second-place Texas and third-place Virginia.

“It’s not like we went online and applied for it and waited for a response back. We’ve been working for this,” said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, whose team is coming off a Final Four and Elite Eight trip the past two seasons. “But remember, it’s a rental. You don’t own it. You’re just renting it because someday somebody else is going to be No. 1.”

North Carolina had been No. 1 all season, but the Tar Heels lost to Iowa State and in a four-overtime thriller to Alabama at the Phil Knight Invitational to cede the top spot to Houston, which beat Kent State in its only game last week.

The last time the Cougars ascended to No. 1 was the final poll of the 1982-83 season, when “The Glide” and “The Dream” along with coach Guy Lewis were the favorites to win it all. They rolled through the NCAA Tournament before falling to Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in an iconic championship game in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I’ve never been ranked No. 1,” said Sampson, now in his 34th season as a college basketball coach. “We were ranked all 12 years at Oklahoma. I’m sure we were ranked at Indiana. Then we’ve been ranked five or six straight years. We’re used to having a high level of success.”

Texas received eight first-place votes and Virginia received two. Arizona climbed from 14th to fourth after emerging from a stacked field to win the Maui Invitational. Purdue jumped from 24th all the way to fifth and scooped up eight first-place votes after beating West Virginia, Gonzaga and Duke at the Phil Knight Legacy tourney.

“Our guys are competitive. They’re fun to coach. They get along. They’re out there playing with purpose and that’s what you have to have,” said Boilermakers coach Matt Painter, whose team was briefly No. 1 about this time last season.

“Early in the season, very few teams play with the purpose collectively,” he said. “I thought our guys played with a purpose.”

Baylor was sixth, Creighton seventh and U Conn climbed from 20th to eighth after beating Oregon, Alabama and Iowa State to win the Phil Knight Invitational. Kansas fell from third to ninth after losing to Tennessee in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, while Indiana rounded out the top 10.

There was a tie for 11th between SEC rivals Alabama and Arkansas with the Volunteers, another conference foe, right behind them. Gonzaga dropped from sixth to 14th, its first time outside the top 10 since Feb. 5, 2018, and Auburn was 15th.

Illinois was next followed by Duke and North Carolina in a tough week for Tobacco Road. The Blue Devils fell from eighth after their 75-56 loss to the Boilermakers.

Kentucky and Michigan State joined UCLA, Maryland, Iowa State, San Diego State and Ohio State in rounding out the poll.

RISING AND FALLING

Purdue made a rare 19-spot jump as the poll underwent a massive shakeup. UConn climbed 12 spots, Arizona moved up 10, Tennessee climbed nine and Alabama seven. On the flip side, the Tar Heels tumbled 17 spots, Duke dropped nine, Gonzaga fell eight and San Diego State fell seven.

IN AND OUT

Despite all the movement, Iowa State was the only newcomer this week, checking in at No. 23 after beating Villanova and North Carolina before falling to UConn. The Cyclones replaced Iowa, which dropped out after a one-week stay following its loss to TCU in the title game of the Emerald Coast Classic.

CONFERENCE WATCH

There are six difference conferences represented in the first seven teams in the poll. The Big Ten leads the way with six in the Top 25 while the SEC has five and the Big 12 has four, though three of them are in the top 10.

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Stanford, UConn next

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South Carolina remained the unanimous No. 1 choice in The Associated Press women’s poll, as the Gamecocks keep close watch on the foot injury of reigning Player of the Year Aliyah Boston.

The Gamecocks received all 29 first-place votes in the poll, a day after Boston left a game with her injury. Coach Dawn Staley said Boston was “questionable” going forward but added that the “team doctor wasn’t too, too concerned.”

South Carolina’s next game is at home against No. 15 UCLA.

Stanford remained No. 2 after cruising through a tournament in Hawaii. It’s the 618th appearance for Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, tying the late Pat Summitt for most all-time. Summitt’s teams only missed being in the poll 14 times during her Hall of Fame career at Tennessee.

UConn, Ohio State and Indiana rounded out the top five.

The Huskies are one of four Big East teams to be ranked this week as Marquette entered the poll at No. 24. It’s the first time the Big East has four ranked teams since the conference realigned in 2014. The league is 56-14 so far this season, including going 8-2 against ranked teams.

“We’ve been trying to earn a little more respect,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said of the Big East. “Tried to schedule tougher non-conference (games). ‘Nova’s playing people. Us going to the Bahamas was great. Creighton’s doing what they’ve been doing since last season. Getting some of those quality wins is everything.”

North Carolina moved up two spots to No. 6 after rallying to beat then-No. 5 Iowa State in the Phil Knight tournament. The Cyclones fell to eighth.

The Tar Heels visit the Hoosiers on Tuesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Indiana returns home after winning two games in Las Vegas at a subpar venue that lacked basic necessities.

Notre Dame remained No. 7 while Virginia Tech and Iowa finished off the top 10. At No. 9, Virginia Tech has matched its best ranking ever and is in the top 10 for the first time since 1999.

Tennessee fell out of the poll this week marking the 56th time in the 827-week history of the poll that the Lady Vols weren’t ranked. Kansas State also fell out with Gonzaga moving in at No. 23.

FALLING CARDINALS

Louisville dropped to 18th in the poll this week after falling to South Dakota State in the fifth place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis last week. It’s the Cardinals lowest ranking since Jan. 11, 2016.

Louisville entered the top 10 in the preseason poll in 2017 and hadn’t been out since, a span of 98 consecutive weeks. It was the longest active streak.

“It’s a compliment to the consistency that we built here,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of being ranked in the top 10 for so long. “Obviously are goal would have been to stay in the top 10, but it’s a new team and growing.”

Edey scores 21 as No. 24 Purdue beats No. 8 Duke 75-56

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Zach Edey and No. 24 Purdue shook off a slow start. When No. 8 Duke tried to rally in the second half, the Boilermakers finished strong.

Edey had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Purdue beat Duke 75-56 on Sunday in the championship game of the Phil Knight Legacy men’s tournament.

Fletcher Loyer scored 18 points for Purdue (6-0), and reserve Caleb Furst finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“I feel like we weren’t getting the looks we wanted early. As we settled into the game, we kept our poise and kept getting the shots that we wanted,” Edey said. “They were making some tough twos at the beginning of the game, shots we’re OK with all season.”

The 7-foot-4 Edey was 7 for 13 from the field and 7 for 8 at the line. He was named tournament MVP.

“They have the most unique player in the country,” Duke coach Jon Scheyer said of Edey. “He’s a hard guy to prepare for because there’s nobody else like him.”

Duke (6-2) shot 36.2% (21 for 58) from the field. Tyres Proctor scored 16 points for the Blue Devils. Kyle Filipowski and Jeremy Roach each had 14.

Ethan Morton had a steal and a dunk to help Purdue open a 58-41 lead with 15:37 left in the second half.

Duke countered with an 8-0 run, capped by two foul shots by Dariq Whitehead. But Furst made a layup and a jumper to help hold off the Blue Devils.

A hook by Edey and a 3-pointer by Loyer made it 68-56 with 5:03 remaining.

Duke got off to a 14-7 start before Purdue worked its way back into the game.

“I don’t feel like we came out bad today, but they matched our energy,” Edey said.

A 3-pointer by Brandon Newman pushed the Purdue lead to 46-28. A late run by Duke cut the Boilermakers’ lead to 46-35 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: It looked as if Roach had an issue with his left foot at one point, but he went back into the game. Scheyer said Roach had hurt his toe.

Purdue: Although neither team had great offensive games, Purdue was the better team from range. Purdue made seven 3-pointers to just two for Duke.

UP NEXT

Duke: Hosts Ohio State on Wednesday.

Purdue: Visits Florida State on Wednesday.