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Tuesday’s Things to Know: Kansas and K-State Brawl, TCU’s signature win, Villanova beats Butler

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College basketball had plenty of action on Tuesday night.

But instead of a bevy of upsets and huge top-25 games, the action came in the form of a Kansas/Kansas State brawl and a new bubble team picking up a signature win.

There was also a top-25 matchup in the Big East as Villanova squared off against Butler. 

Kansas/Kansas State brawl erupts at end of rivalry game

The big story of Tuesday night involves Kansas and Kansas State.

This inner-state rivalry lost some steam with the Wildcats in rebuilding mode this season. But as we found out Tuesday, there is still plenty of intensity when these Big 12 rivals take the floor.

At the end of a Jayhawk blowout home win, a brawl started under a basket. Video came from all over the place as Kansas and Kansas State players took swings and even picked up a chair.

It overshadowed a rivalry win for the No. 3 Jayhawks. Suspensions will likely be handed out. These teams also have a return matchup at Kansas State to look forward to on Feb. 29. We’ll hear more about this fight throughout the week.

TCU picks up signature win against No. 18 Texas Tech

During a major season of turmoil where upsets are normal and road wins are nearly impossible, TCU has stayed in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid with a positive 11-5 start.

The Horned Frogs lacked a signature win though.

That changed on Tuesday night with TCU claiming a 65-54 win over No. 18 Texas Tech. Now with a Q1 win on the profile, TCU should make a move up the NET to get in respectable bubble territory.

TCU still has work to do if they want to secure a bid. Only one Q1 win, one Q2 win and a combined 2-5 record in those two quadrants isn’t going to cut it.

But with a 4-2 record in the Big 12, TCU is a team to keep tabs of the next several weeks. After getting absolutely destroyed by an average of 26 points per game the last two losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma, this is a quality bounceback win for the Horned Frogs. And the type of win that can jumpstart a postseason push.

No. 9 Villanova cruises past No. 16 Butler for Big East home win

Tuesday night’s only top-25 clash was in the Big East. Villanova ran past Butler for a 76-61 home win to keep pace with Seton Hall in the Big East standings.

Jermaine Samuels paced five double-figure scorers for Villanova with 20 points.

Big East brutality continued for Butler meanwhile.

The Bulldogs have lost three straight games in conference play. All three losses have come by at least eight points. It’s not only that Butler is losing but they’re playing poorly.

It feels like the Wildcats will once again remain in the Big East title picture this season. If Butler wants to say the same, they’ll need to figure things out quickly to fix its January swoon.

No. 21 Illinois runs away in 2nd half to sweep Purdue

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — After watching No. 21 Illinois play an uncharacteristic first half Tuesday night, coach Brad Underwood gave his team some simple instructions.

Then the Fighting Illini reverted to form.

Kofi Cockburn scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, Trent Frazier added 21 points and Illinois pulled away in the second half to beat Purdue 79-62.

“I don’t know if you can ever count on going 9 of 10 to start the second half, but I thought our guys executed,” Underwood said. “All you can ask is for an opposing coach or players to say `You guys played really, really hard and out toughed us.’ ”

It’s another milestone victory for the resurgent Illini (14-5, 6-2 Big Ten), winners of five straight.

They’re off to their best conference start since 2005-06, ended a seven-game losing streak at Mackey Arena and swept the season series with Purdue for the first time since 2008-09.

And after an atypical start to the game, Underwood got his team to follow a more common theme over the final 20 minutes. They outscored Purdue 50-32 in the second half, never giving the Boilermakers a chance.

Nojel Eastern had 14 points and Trevion Williams scored 12 to lead Purdue (10-9, 4-4), which has lost four of five and watched a 15-game winning streak in conference home games end.

“We were struggling to keep them out of the paint,” said Matt Haarms, who had 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks. “That was one of the points of emphasis before the game and we just weren’t to able to execute it.””

The Illini swung the momentum quickly, opening the second half with seven straight points to erase a 30-29 halftime lead. Then, after making five straight baskets to make it 49-39 with 13:30 to play, they extended the margin to 60-45 on Giorgi Bezhanishvili’s 3-pointer with 8:27 left.

Underwood’s defense didn’t allow Purdue to get closer than nine again.

“They didn’t do anything differently (in the second half), they executed better,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “Illinois’ fight is so much better than ours. They have a great competitive spirit.”

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini pulled off a rare feat by winning a Big Ten road game. And the reason is obvious – defense travels. Illinois came into the game allowing 57.3 points as teams shot just 36.6% from the field and 31.1% on 3s during their previous four wins. They weren’t quite as good Tuesday, allowing Purdue to shoot 41.1% from the field and 37.5% on 3s – but they were more than good enough.

Purdue: The Boilermakers keep struggling to score, and it caught up to them again on Tuesday. After scoring only 37 points in the first meeting with Illinois, the Boilermakers couldn’t reach the 60-point mark on their home court until the final minute. If coach Matt Painter can’t find a solution soon, with the midway point of conference play fast approaching, it could be an even tougher final two months.

STAT SHEET

Illinois: Ayo Dosunmu finished with 18 points and a career high 11 assists. Bezhanishvili had 10 points. … Cockburn nearly posted a double-double in the first half with nine points and nine rebounds. … Frazier’s streak of turnover-free basketball ended at 193 minutes Tuesday. The guard went nearly 6 1/4 games between turnovers. … The Illini also snapped a seven-game losing streak at Mackey Arena.

Purdue: Matt Haarms had 10 points and six rebounds. Sasha Stefanovic had nine points. … The Boilermakers were outrebounded 37-19, giving Illinois an 83-53 advantage in this season’s two games. … The Boilermakers had won six straight home games against ranked opponents at home before Tuesday.

EARLY EXIT

Illinois guard Alan Griffin was ejected with 12:21 left in the first half for a flagrant 2 foul.

A replay review showed Griffin intentionally stomped on Stefanovic’s midsection after the Purdue guard had driven to the basket for a layup, bringing a crescendo of boos from the crowd. Stefanovic made one of two free throws for an unusual three-point play.

Underwood wasn’t any happier about it than the Purdue fans.

“He apologized to the young man and we don’t condone any of that,” he said. “That’s not part of anything we’re trying to do in our program.”

UP NEXT

Illinois hits the road again Saturday when it heads to Michigan.

Purdue welcomes Wisconsin in a rare Friday night contest in West Lafayette.

Potter leads Wisconsin to 58-49 win over No. 20 Penn State

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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Micah Potter scored 18 of his 24 points in the first half and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Wisconsin over No. 20 Penn State 58-49 on Saturday.

Brad Davison had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Badgers (10-6, 3-2 Big Ten), who bounced back nicely after losing 71-70 to Illinois on Wednesday night. Kobe King added 10 points.

It was a successful start to a key stretch for Wisconsin, which hosts No. 12 Maryland on Tuesday night and visits No. 8 Michigan State on Friday.

Lamar Stevens had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Nittany Lions (12-4, 2-3), who had won 13 in a row at home. Isaiah Brockington scored 15 points.

Wisconsin never trailed and led by as many as 12 with 14:13 to play.

Myreon Jones gave Penn State some life when he hit an off-balance 3-pointer that sparked a 10-2 run that cut the Badgers’ lead to four.

But the Nittany Lions missed their next three shots, all 3-pointers, and Wisconsin got baskets on back-to-back possessions, with a 3 from Davison putting the game out of reach.

Both teams got off to a sluggish start. It took nearly five minutes for either team to find the basket.

The Badgers went 0 for 7 from the floor before Potter hit a layup. Potter then hit two 3s and another layup before Stevens snapped Penn State’s 0-for-12 skid with a turnaround jumper.

Brockington made a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left to cut Wisconsin’s halftime lead to 31-22.

BIG PICTURE

While Potter was the biggest star for Wisconsin, the Badgers have gotten contributions from up and down the lineup all season. They entered with one of the most balanced lineups in the Big Ten, with all five starters averaging over 8.5 points per game.

Penn State hadn’t scored fewer than 58 points in a game this season. Now the Nittany Lions have struggled offensively in back-to-back outings. They lost 72-61 to Rutgers on Tuesday night.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin hosts Maryland on Tuesday.

Penn State visits Minnesota on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Baylor, Maryland earn key conference wins; two ranked teams lose on road

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College basketball saw quite a bit of action go down on Tuesday night. 

Marquee matchups in the Big Ten and Big 12 kept things interesting. Upsets with ranked teams losing on the road completed a strong night of games. 

No. 12 Maryland slows down No. 11 Ohio State

The night started with a clash of top-12 teams in the Big Ten. It resulted in a quality home win for the Terps as Ohio State’s freefall continues.

Senior point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. led a balanced offensive night for Maryland. The team’s stifling interior defense did the rest. The Terps limited touches for Ohio State big man Kaleb Wesson. And the Buckeyes couldn’t make Maryland pay from the perimeter with a poor shooting night.

I have more on Maryland’s win here. Ohio State, meanwhile, has dropped three straight after previously being No. 1 earlier this season.

No. 4 Baylor holds off No. 22 Texas Tech for Big 12 road win

The second top-25 matchup of the night had the Bears holding off the Red Raiders to start 2-0 in the Big 12.

Spreading the ball all over on offense, Baylor blitzed the offensive glass for 16 boards to maintain a big advantage on the glass. Davion Mitchell was the only double-figure scorer for the Bears with 14 points. It’s another great early-season win for Baylor as they continue to look like a major Big 12 contender.

Texas Tech struggled to score from all over the floor on a poor shooting night. The Red Raiders were 37 percent from the floor and a dismal 41 percent from the charity stripe. Even with a good effort from freshman Jahmius Ramsey, Texas Tech came up short at home.

Baylor heads to Allen Fieldhouse for another Big 12 showdown with No. 3 Kansas this weekend.

Boston College, Rutgers score upset home wins over ranked teams

It wouldn’t be a normal night of college hoops during the 2019-20 season without some upsets.

Boston College took down No. 18 Virginia in the ACC. Meanwhile, Rutgers earned an impressive Big Ten home win, sans Geo Baker, over No. 20 Penn State.

Previously getting blown out by Duke in ACC play, the Eagles bounced back because of strong perimeter defense and a huge late shot from Jared Hamilton. They move to 3-1 in the ACC behind only Duke and tied among a pack of teams.

Rutgers is now an intriguing 12-3 and 3-1 in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights kept pace with Maryland and only trail Michigan State in the early Big Ten standings — just as we all predicted… Playing with Baker, Ron Harper Jr. put together an impressive night to lead Rutgers with 20 points. Winners of six straight, Rutgers has wins over Wisconsin, Seton Hall and now Penn State during that span.

Harper Jr. Scores 22, Rutgers Upsets No. 20 Penn State

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Rutgers’ season of expectations is off to a historic start in conference play.

Ron Harper Jr. had 22 points to help Rutgers beat No. 20 Penn State 72-61 on Tuesday night as the Scarlet Knights are 3-1 for the first time as member of the Big Ten.

The last time Rutgers started off conference play this well was three conferences ago, as members of the Atlantic-10 in 1994-95. However, fourth-year coach Steve Pikiell, who has preached enjoying the journey and taking things one game at a time all season, isn’t going to start talking about the NCAA Tournament just yet.

“We have 16 games left. We were picked 12th in the league We gotta go to practice. … There’s a lot of season left,” Pikiell said. “I do appreciate the excitement and enthusiasm people have. It doesn’t help us win games. We gotta play well, we gotta beat really good teams with great coaches, we gotta go on the road and win. We gotta do a lot of things before we start talking about anything else.”

Rutgers took a lead at 34-33 on a second-chance basket by Myles Johnson with 17:53 to go. It was the Scarlet Knights first lead since 4-3, when Harper. hit two foul shots from a flagrant foul on Jamari Wheeler. As Rutgers was trying to inbound, Wheeler elbowed Harper in the chin.

The teams would trade a few of leads, before Rutgers (11-3, 3-1 Big Ten) took the lead for good on Montez Mathis’ 3-pointer. He had a layup on the ensuing possession to make it 54-51 with 6:45 to go.

Penn State (12-3, 2-2) led by as many as 10 in the first half, at 24-14. Rutgers would balloon it’s lead to 14 in the waning moments of the game.

Looking like a different team in the second half, Harper credited junior captain Geo Baker, who missed his second game with a broken thumb, for rousing the locker room at halftime.

“He’s our fearless leader,” Harper said. “Just because he’s hurt, just because he doesn’t mean he’s going to take a back seat. He still the relentless leader that he is when he’s dressed up and on the court with us.”

Penn State was led by Myreon Jones’ 21 points, while Mike Watkins had 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting. Jacob Young added 13 points for Rutgers.

“I’m not going to overreact,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “There’s a lot of good teams in this league this year. We’ll learn from this. We’ll watch film. We’ll get up tomorrow and we’ll get better. That’s all we have to do. We have another incredible opponent on Saturday. Wisconsin just beat Ohio State last week, so we got to be ready to go. We got to put this behind us. It’s just like Iowa, put it behind you. Rutgers tonight, we got to put it behind us.”

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are off to their best start through 15 games since the undefeated regular season in 1975-76 that culminated in a Final Four, and with its second win over a Top 25 team following a Dec. 14 win over No. 22 Seton Hall, dreams of a postseason look attainable. Rutgers hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1990-91, and last made the NIT in 2006.

Penn State: While a five-game win streak was snapped, the Nittany Lions are still in good shape under ninth year coach Pat Chambers. sitting at .500 and in the middle of the pack of a loaded Big Ten Conference.

GEO BAKER UPDATE

Pikiell didn’t offer much of an update on Baker, who missed the last two games after breaking his thumb in practice prior to the Nebraska game. However, it doesn’t appear that the Scarlet Knights leader will need surgery.

“Please don’t mention that word,” Pikiell said. “I’m just hoping he’s back soon. Don’t scare me.”

UP NEXT

Rutgers: At Illinois on Saturday

Penn State: Host Wisconsin on Saturday.

No. 12 Maryland scores solid Big Ten home win over No. 11 Ohio State

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Maryland secured a very good Big Ten home win on Tuesday night as the No. 12 Terrapins held off No. 11 Ohio State with a 67-55 victory.

Using stifling defense and balanced scoring, Maryland picked up what could be another quad one win while maintaining pace with the Big Ten’s top teams. Senior point guard Anthony Cowan Jr. paced the Terps with 20 points while soundly outplaying his Ohio State lead-guard counterparts.

Maryland (13-2, 3-1) also had 11 points from Jalen Smith and 10 points from Darryl Morsell. Six players for the Terps scored at least seven points each on a night where they didn’t need one player to take over. Coupled with the team’s impressive defense and it was a very strong win for Maryland.

Maryland did a strong job of defending on the interior.  Smith and freshman Chol Marial were both capable of slowing down Ohio State big man Kaleb Wesson and limiting his touches. The Maryland defense dared Ohio State’s perimeter shooting to beat them.

The Buckeyes simply had no answer if the Wesson brothers weren’t creating inside.

Ohio State shot 18 percent (5-for-27) from three-point range with 14 turnovers. Kaleb (15 points) and Andre Wesson (14 points) were consistent offensive threats for Ohio State when they weren’t bogged down by a collapsing Maryland defense. Freshman point guard D.J. Carton also chipped in 14 points with some garbage-time buckets to offset an up-and-down night. Outside of them? Ohio State had next to nothing.

Missing Kyle Young (injury) and dealing with a sluggish C.J. Walker (illness), the Buckeyes weren’t close to full strength. It didn’t help that Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr. also both had off-shooting games. Muhammad and Washington were a combined 0-for-11 from three-point range on Tuesday.

After looking like one of college basketball’s elite teams early in the season, Ohio State is struggling. They’ve gone from the No. 1 team in the country at 9-0 to now losing four of their last six games. And while you can blame some missing rotation pieces and an off-shooting night for a loss to a top-12 team on the road the lack of offense is a troubling sign for the Buckeyes.

Point-guard play has to be more consistent for Ohio State while the outside shooting has to get better to make things easier for Kaleb Wesson.

Maryland’s win is particularly important given the team’s upcoming Big Ten schedule. Four of the next five games are on the road for the Terps as this will be a critical stretch to assess if this team is a Big Ten contender.