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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.

Illinois’ Alan Griffin ejected for stepping on Purdue player

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Referees ejected Illinois’ Alan Griffin for stepping on Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic on Tuesday night. The Boilermakers were hosting No. 24 Illinois in a heated Big Ten clash. The ejection happened midway through the first half when Griffin intentionally stepped on Stefanovic.

Griffin turned to run back on defense and clearly stepped on Stefanovic while he was on the ground. Attacking the basket and not getting a call, Stefanovic was on the ground when Griffin stepped on his chest.

Before the ejection, Griffin was scoreless.

A 6-foot-5 sophomore, Griffin is a key reserve during Illinois’ resurgent season. Playing 17.9 minutes per game, Griffin is an adequate three-pointer shooter and good rebounder from the wing.

Potentially facing a suspension for his actions, Griffin’s potential absence is something to monitor.

Following an important Big Ten road win for No. 24 Illinois, head coach Brad Underwood spoke out against Griffin’s actions.

 

Thursday’s Things to Know: Arizona can’t finish at Oregon, Wichita State takes early American lead and Michigan wins in 2OT

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Thursday night start with significant news that Washington point guard Quade Green will be academically ineligible for at least the next two months, and then things really got interesting.  Here’s what you need to know from a night of overtimes and early jockeying for conference positioning.

1. Arizona misses huge chance in Eugene

Arizona blew a massive opportunity Thursday night.

The Wildcats had a chance to firmly establish themselves as the Pac-12’s premier team, put themselves in the league’s driver’s seat and land a major NCAA tournament resume win when they led No. 9 Oregon by six with less than 2 minutes left in the game at Knight Arena. For a team whose best win was at home against Illinois in the season’s first week, that’s an opportunity you can’t miss.

Which is exactly what Arizona did.

Oregon scored six-straight points over the final 1:38 of regulation, including a game-tying jumper by Payton Pritchard with 28 seconds remaining, and the Wildcats missed two shots and then turned it over in the final possession of overtime to fall to the Ducks, 74-73, in frustrating fashion.

Arizona got a tough whistle down the stretch Zeke Nnaji maybe getting fouled on a potential game-winner with 5 seconds left without drawing a call, and then when officials blowing a play dead when it appeared Pritchard threw the ball back toward an unguarded basket before landing out of bounds. That makes it tough, but it’s a conference road game against a top-10 opponent. It’s gonna be tough.

The loss is obviously not something that’s going to hurt Arizona – a lot of teams are going to lose in Eugene over the next two months – but a win could have been monumentally helpful. Before we get into the nuts and bolts, let’s just examine it from a public perception angle. The Wildcats were ranked 24th, and, given how AP voters typically behave, will probably fall outside the top-25, even if that’s silly considering they lost on the road to a top-10 team. Arizona may have showed itself to be the best team in the Pac-12 by taking Oregon to OT and nearly winning in Eugene, but there’s a pretty good chance Arizona is playing without a number next to its name next week.

To the things that really matter. Arizona has two “good” losses – at Baylor, vs. Gonzaga – and one whatever loss, St. John’s on a neutral, and that’s why the computers like them, but their resume is pretty thin with something pretty important: Good wins. It’s been two months since they beat a perfectly fine but not particularly remarkable Illini team in Tucson, and their best win since then depends on how you feel about New Mexico State, Arizona State and Wake Forest. And no one feels that great about that trio of teams.

A win at Oregon would have not only been a statement, but a serious NCAA tournament resume builder, something that isn’t exactly in strong supply across the Pac-12.  The league once again isn’t great, and that means needle-moving wins aren’t a plentiful resource. To outplay Oregon for most of the night Thursday on the Ducks’ floor only to return home with an L is a pretty tough pill to swallow if you’re Sean Miller or his players.

Arizona’s performance made me pretty confident that they’re the best team in the Pac-12, but my opinion is worth less than the Wildcats’ Nov. 24 win against Long Beach State (KenPom No. 305).

2. Shockers knock off Memphis

Even without James Wiseman, Memphis has a roster that can compete for an AAC championship. The Tigers ripped off a series of wins without the potential No. 1 NBA draft pick, both before and after he decided to hang up his sneakers for the season. Wins against N.C. State and Tennessee are enough to believe in Penny Hardaway’s team even without the stellar freshman. These Tigers still have a chance.

But they’re not the frontrunners.

Wichita State looks to have staked a claim to that status with their 76-67 win over the Tigers on Thursday night at Koch Arena.

The Shockers led by as many as 19 points despite shooting just 32.8 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from the 3-point line. They did it thanks to 35 trips to the free-throw line and a defense that produced 18 turnovers and held the Tigers to 35.7 percent from the floor while going a ghastly 4 of 21 from 3-point range. Gregg Marshall’s team had six players score at least eight points while Jamarius Burton led the way with 16.

Wichita State is now 2-0 in the American with the best league win across the conference to date. They’re just a little more than a week away from butting heads with another – probably their chief – AAC  contender, Houston, in Wichita.

3. Michigan survives 2OT to beat Purdue

I don’t know if anyone was actually worried about Michigan after Cassius Winston and Michigan State pretty well thumped them Sunday, but getting big performances from Zavier Simpson, Franz Wagner and Jon Teske to overcome 36 points and 20 rebounds from Trevion Williams and beat Purdue 84-78 in double-overtime might help calm some nerves.

Simpson had 22 and nine assists,  Teske had 18 points and nine rebounds and Wagner had 15 points and five boards to help power the Wolverines, who are still without second-leading scorer and 50-percent 3-point shooter Isaiah Livers. The junior wing has now missed three-straight games since suffering a groin injury in the early minutes of Michigan’s win against Presbyterian on Dec. 21.

Livers is a huge piece of the Wolverines’ puzzle, and without him their offense shrinks considering the importance of his 3-point shooting.

That doesn’t, however, explain how badly Michigan has gotten beaten inside throughout Big Ten play, with Williams’ huge night the latest in a line of big nights, as noted by The Athletic’s Brendan Quinn:

Michigan might not be the slumbering giant they appeared to be after winning the Battle 4 Atlantis (both Iowa State and North Carolina – Michigan’s first two wins in the Bahamas – are in free fall), but if they can get Livers back soon and figure out a way to contain opposing big men, they’ve got a chance to hang around in a Big Ten race that Michigan State is currently in solid control of.

No. 19 Michigan survives double overtime against Purdue

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zavier Simpson scored 22 points, Jon Teske added 18 and Michigan’s seniors made big shots late as the 19th-ranked Wolverines outlasted Purdue 84-78 in double overtime on Thursday night.

Freshman Franz Wagner had 15 points for Michigan (11-4, 2-2 Big Ten), which avoided a third straight Big Ten loss.

Purdue sophomore Trevion Williams had career highs with 36 points and 20 rebounds but missed a shot to win at the regulation buzzer.

In the first overtime, Eric Hunter Jr. missed a contested jump shot for Purdue (9-7, 2-3), and Simpson’s desperation 3-pointer on the run also missed for Michigan at the buzzer.

Michigan left little to chance in the second overtime, scoring the first nine points of the session. Teske had a three-point play, followed by 3-pointers from Simpson and Wagner.

Williams, who went to Henry Ford Academy in nearby Detroit, rushed a shot at the end of regulation while Wagner contested.

It was Williams’ sixth double-digit scoring output in the last seven games after he had just one in the first nine. His previous career highs were 18 points and 16 rebounds, both achieved last month at Nebraska.

Isaiah Thompson added 14 points and Eric Hunter Jr. scored 10 points for Purdue.

David DeJulius made three free throws in the final minute, finishing with 11 points for Michigan.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: The Boilermakers lost another chance for a resume builder, falling to 1-3 against ranked teams.

Michigan: The Wolverines responded to losing two straight Big Ten games, including at rival Michigan State on Sunday, with a hard-fought home win.

BIG MAN DOWN

Purdue junior center Matt Haarms fell awkwardly in the first half and left the game with an unspecified injury. He did not return.

STILL OUT

Michigan was playing its third straight game without junior Isaiah Livers, who has a groin injury. Livers is averaging 13.6 points per game, second on the Wolverines.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Purdue continues a three-game stretch against ranked opponents Sunday against No. 8 Michigan State. After that, the Boilermakers face No. 12 Maryland.

Michigan: In just their fifth conference game, the Wolverines already have a rematch, visiting Iowa on Sunday. Michigan topped the Hawkeyes 103-91 on Dec. 6.

Purdue routs No. 5 Virginia

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It was sort of inevitable, even if watching it play out was sort of shocking.

Virginia’s defense has been so good, even by its lofty standards, that the Cavaliers navigated the first seven games of their schedule without a loss, despite the fact that 65 points against James Madison was their highwater mark of offense.

So unless you thought Tony Bennett’s team was going to hold opponents to the 30s and 40s every night – which, I suppose, given the track record that’s not an entirely crazy notion – the Cavaliers, with an offense that ranks somewhere below clunky and above disastrous, were bound to have a night where the offense simply didn’t show up and the defense wasn’t able to carry the load.

It happened Wednesday.

Purdue absolutely blasted No. 5 Virginia, 69-40, beating the Cavaliers’ defense while letting their offense self-destruct at Mackey Arena.

It was the type of game, however, that Virginia had to know was possible given how much its offense has failed to produce despite the undefeated record.

Bennett’s teams have never been known for their offense, but that has largely been due to pace. His teams have finished in the top-50 in adjusted offense every year since 2014 with two top-10 finishes, including last year’s national champion ranking No. 2. They’ve just never finished ranked higher than 316th in tempo, and that came in Bennett’s first season in Charlottesville.

This year’s team is both slow and bad offensively.

The Cavs entered Wednesday ranked 291st in effective field goal percentage, 338th in 3-point shooting, 168th in turnover percentage and 273rd in assisted field goals. And yeah, they’re still super slow, ranking at the bottom of the country in tempo.

So a night in which Virginia didn’t break into double digits until after 16 minutes isn’t exactly surprising. It is ugly, though, when tabulated all up, the Cavaliers shot 37.2 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from 3-point range while committing 16 turnovers. Yeah, it was a bad night, but not one that was miles away from what’s been standard for Virginia this year. Nights like this happen when your baseline is as low as Virginia’s has been.

Kihei Clark was 1 of 6 from the floor with three turnovers. Mamadi Diakite was 4 of 10 with four turnovers. When those two can’t produce, Virginia’s offense isn’t likely to either, especially with Braxton Key (wrist) sidelined.

Purdue got to the defense, especially at the 3-point line where they made 13 of 25, but there’s little doubt the Cavaliers are going to have a top-ranked defense. The task for Bennett will be to get the offense to simply serviceable.

That may be a rather significant challenge.

Let’s also not lose sight, though, of what a validating evening this was for Matt Painter’s Boilermakers. Purdue entered the night with three losses and a neutral-floor win again VCU as the best win on its resume, but were still beloved by the computers with a No. 13 KenPom ranking.

To totally dominate Virginia – whatever its offensive shortcomings – on both ends of the floor is a nice piece of evidence that this group is going to be pretty good.

The Boilermakers got 20 points from Sasha Stefanovic, 16 from Jahaad Proctor and 11 from Matt Haarms. They get credit for making Virginia’s offense as ineffective as it was, especially early.

If Purdue is as good as it was against Virginia and the computers believe, the Big Ten is going to be a monster. We already know about Michigan State, Maryland and Ohio State, but with Michigan and Purdue really emerging in the last week – not to mention undefeated Indiana, 8-1 Penn State and an interesting 6-2 Iowa team – the league is staking early claim to being the best in the country.