Harper injured, but Mathis lifts No. 14 Rutgers over Purdue

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers hasn’t played with a complete, healthy lineup yet this year, so the 14th-ranked Scarlet Knights knew what to do when leading scorer Ron Harper Jr. was forced to the bench.

“We just had the next-man-up mentality,” senior captain Geo Baker said.

This time, that man was Montez Mathis.

Mathis scored a career-high 25 points, including 16 in the second half, and Rutgers beat Purdue 81-76 on Tuesday night.

Harper tweaked his ankle in practice and was scratched an hour before tipoff. The Honorable Mention All-Big Ten player from a year ago has been among the top players in the conference and small forwards in the nation, shooting 56.4%, including 50% from beyond the arc, for 23.4 points per game along with 7.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists.

Harper’s injury is the latest in a season of them for Rutgers (7-1, 3-1 Big Ten). Jacob Young returned after a hard fall that sidelined him in the second half of the last game vs. No. 23 Ohio State, and Mawot Mag (ankle) had missed the last three games. Cliff Omoruyi was sidelined for the second straight game with a sprained right knee.

Baker – an All-Big Ten guard – missed three games after spraining his ankle early in the season-opener. Baker had 19 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Young had 13 points and four assists.

Purdue (7-4, 2-2 Big Ten) punished Rutgers in the paint, led by Trevion Williams’ 21 points and 12 rebounds. The Boilermakers had 42 points in the paint to the Scarlet Knights’ 28. Purdue held the rebounding edge 33-31.

“When you play a team like this, you know, Trevion Williams is a really good passer. So if you double down, you get to kind of pick your poison with him a little bit,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “And (Zach) Ede is 7-foot-4, I mean, huge. You know, Myles (Johnson) has to wrestle with them. … Going against two of the better post guys in the league.”

Isaiah Thompson had 17 points for Purdue, and his layup with 15:19 left gave the Boilermakers their first lead, 46-44, since midway through the first half. Pikiell promptly called a timeout to break up Purdue’s 23-6 run.

Rutgers trailed by five before rallying to tie it at 53 on Paul Mulcahy’s 3-pointer and Baker’s transition layup.

The teams exchanged leads before Mulcahy hit a 3-pointer to put Rutgers up 61-59 at the 7:52 mark. The Scarlet Knights led the rest of the way.

“The ones that Mulcahy hits in the second half, nobody’s there,” Purdue coach Matt Painter. “You’re just wide open. No one’s rotating to him.”

After Purdue jumped to an 11-6 lead, Rutgers rallied to lead by as many as 15 before taking a 40-34 lead into halftime.

Sasha Stefanovic added 14 points for Purdue.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Rutgers fell a few spots to No. 14 after a loss at No. 25 Ohio State, but can move back up if it beats No. 10 Iowa on Sunday.

FREE THROWS

Rutgers had been struggling at the charity stripe, shooting 60%. That improved against Purdue, as Rutgers went 14 of 17 from the line.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: It’s the beginning of a tough road stretch in the Big Ten for the Boilermakers. They have three games against Top 25 opponents – also at No. 15 Illinois and at No. 17 Michigan State – with a home game vs. Nebraska at home in between.

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are in the midst of a difficult stretch, with the Boilermakers the only unranked team during the current six-game stretch. Rutgers hosts No. 10 Iowa before traveling to No. 17 Michigan State and hosting No. 25 Ohio State.

UP NEXT

Purdue: At No. 15 Illinois on Saturday.

Rutgers: Host No. 10 Iowa on Saturday.

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
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AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.

Nance scores 21 as North Carolina survives Syracuse, 72-68

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Pete Nance scored 21 points, capped by a dunk with 19 seconds left that put North Carolina in front for good as the Tar Heels pulled out a hard-fought, 72-68 battle with Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Joe Girard hit from beyond the arc to put Syracuse up, 68-66 with 1:28 left, but after Nance hit the first of two free throws to get North Carolina within one, he missed the second free throw and in the scramble to gather in the rebound, the ball caromed toward the end line and Girard dove to save it. Instead, he flicked the ball right to Nance, who dunked for the lead.

Judah Mintz tried to drive the lane for a go-ahead layup but was called for an offensive foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul. North Carolina took possession and Caleb Love converted three straight free throws to put the game away.

Armando Bacot scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds with four assists for North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Love finished with 15 points and five assists.

Girard hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points to lead Syracuse (13-8, 6-4). Mintz scored 17 points and had three steals and Chris Bell hit 3 of 5 from deep and finished with 15 points.

North Carolina has a week off before playing host to Pitt on Feb. 1. Syracuse plays at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Green Bay fires Will Ryan after 11th straight loss

Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports
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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay fired Will Ryan three days after the Phoenix suffered their 11th consecutive loss.

Ryan, the son of former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, posted a 15-61 record in 2 1/2 seasons. Freddie Owens, who had been an assistant coach on Ryan’s staff, will be interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“UW-Green Bay is committed to continuing its legacy as an outstanding Division I athletics program in the future, and Phoenix men’s basketball needs to help lead the way as we work to elevate all of our programs and be a shining light for this region and beyond,” athletic director Josh Moon said in a news release announcing the move.

Moon thanked Ryan and his family for their contributions to the program and said that “we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Stadium first reported Ryan’s firing.

Green Bay dropped to 2-19 overall and 1-9 in the Horizon League with a 72-38 home loss to Robert Morris.

Ryan was hired by Green Bay after going 14-13 in his lone season as the head coach at Division II program Wheeling (West Virginia). Green Bay went 8-17 in Ryan’s debut season and finished 5-25 last year.

Ryan had taken over for Linc Darner, who went 92-80 and posted a winning record in four of his five seasons.