There may not have been a marquee matchup on the schedule or a top-25 showdown, but Thursday night gave us plenty of interesting ball and one hilarious moment in Tempe. Here’s what you need to know:
PURDUE AVOIDS BAD LOSS BY OUTLASTING PENN STATE IN OT
Michigan and Michigan State deservedly get most of the Big Ten love as they’ve established themselves as not only the premier teams in the league, but in the country. They’re a third of a group of six teams – along with Duke, Tennessee, Gonzaga and Virginia – that have separated themselves from the rest of the country through three months.
There are, though, teams looking to break into that tier, and Purdue has quietly been among them, winners of five in a row, including against the Spartans, coming into Thursday night, which should have been a snoozefest against a Penn State team still looking for its first B1G win.
Instead, the Boilermakers needed 38 points from Carsen Edwards and overtime to defeat the Nittany Lions, 99-90, and improve to 15-6 overall and 9-2 in the B1G.
Early on, it looked like the Boilers were going to make it the blowout it should have been as Carsen scored 20 before halftime and Purdue led by as many as 17, looking like it was going to easily crack 100 in regulation and blow out Pat Chambers’ team. Instead, Penn State clamped down – at least compared to the game’s first 12 minutes – and fought back to force an extra frame. In fact, Penn State has a pretty good argument it should have won in regulation when a clear foul against Lamar Stevens wasn’t called and gave the ball back to Purdue, which got a game-tying layup from Edwards that eventually forced overtime. Penn State didn’t get a field goal in the extra frame until there were just 32 seconds left on the clock and Purdue leading by 11.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a road win for Purdue, which now has another pair of games it should win as it returns to West Lafayette for a two-game homestand against Minnesota and Nebraska. Then comes a huge game in College Park against No. 21 Maryland. It’s a critical stretch for the Boilers, who are a game back of both the Wolverines and the Spartans in the B1G standings. A hiccup against Penn State would have been a massive hit, both to their B1G hopes and the NCAA tournament resume.
HOUSTON GETS REVENGE
Houston is really good. Kelvin Sampson has built the Cougars into a formidable program not only in the AAC but in the country. They’re legit, even after losing Rob Gray from last year’s team. We don’t, however, talk about them all that much. You know when we would have? If they were going into February undefeated, but they’re not thanks to a setback at Temple earlier this month.
It’s probably only marginal solace, but Houston got that one back Thursday with a 73-66 win over the Owls at home in a game they largely controlled from start to finish.
Corey Davis, Jr. was great for the Cougs, scoring 24 points and grabbing five rebounds while Dejon Jarreau added 14 points and 12 boards from the bench.
Houston is in the midst of a huge stretch as the Owls were just a game out of first in the AAC, and now the Cougars have UCF (one game back) next Thursday followed by co-leader Cincinnati on Sunday and then Connecticut in Storrs later that week.
BOBBY HURLEY BECOMES A MEME (AND ARIZONA STATE WINS)
Arizona State bounced back from a loss to USC by beating in-state rival Arizona 95-88 in overtime Thursday in what I suppose is a relatively meaningful Pac-12 game. It keeps the Sun Devils within shouting distance of Washington at the top of the standings and every win counts when you’re trying to cobble together an at-large bid out of the Pac-12 these days.
The best thing to come out of this game, though, was Bobby Hurley getting smacked in the face by a basketball:
Now, I’m not celebrating Hurley experiencing some moderate physical discomfort or embarrassment here, but, goodness, this is so funny.
First off, it’s a loose ball, Bobby. Not Randy Johnson rifling a 102 mph fastball off your noggin. Might be a bit of an exaggerated reaction, there. I’m also still not sure how his feet come out from under him like he’s on an ice rink somewhere inside the Polar Vortex and not on a basketball floor in Tempe. Some enterprising social media users took the opportunity to point out that as a former Duke player, Hurley might have seen – or participated in – a flop or two in his life.
Maybe the best thing, though, is he gets right up and starts screaming at an official. It probably had nothing to do with the ball bouncing off his face, but it would be funnier if that’s what he was barking about.
Anyway, keep your head on a swivel, people.