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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.

Wednesday’s Things to Know: No. 5 Michigan loses again, Badgers drop fourth in five

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What looked to be a quiet night in college basketball ended up creating some noise, with a top-five upset leading the charge. Here’s everything you need to know from around the country.

1. Illinois gives No. 5 Michigan second loss in three games

Michigan is learning a lesson so many Midwestern tourists to the Bahamas learn upon returning home in December.

It was a helluva lot nicer down there.

The fifth-ranked Wolverines suffered their second loss in their three games since their expectations-busting Battle 4 Atlantis championship two weeks ago, this one coming to Illinois in a 71-62 setback.

Certainly, there’s no reason to completely abandon Juwan Howard’s team given both those losses were true road games, and one came against the top-ranked team in the country. Teams are going to lose road games, and maybe no one is going to win at the KFC Yum! Center other than Louisville this season. This Wolverines team was dismantling North Carolina and Gonzaga not so long ago, after all.

Their loss to the Illini seems to be more about an off-shooting night than any sort of structural problem. The Wolverines entered the night as a top-25 3-point shooting team, but connected on just 3 of 18 (16.7 percent), including 1 of 6 in the second half, in Champaign.

Sometimes, it’s not just your night.

As ‘meh’ as I am for the loss for the Wolverines, it’s a major victory for Brad Underwood’s Illinois. Prior to tonight, the Illini’s best win was KenPom No. 173 Hawaii at home.  All three top-100 teams they faced – No. 14 Arizona, No. 83 Miami and No. 9 Maryland – all beat them, with the Hurricanes and Terps games both last week.

Stopping a two-game losing streak and getting your first marquee win of the season against the team that had become something of a national darling is a really nice way to spend a Wednesday night.

It was an encouraging performance for the Illini, which had a balanced attack and a breakout performance from center Kofi Cockburn. The 7-foot center had 19 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. It was a fantastic night for him, but, unfortunately, it’ll likely be remembered most by his celebration late in the game that left an official injured after a celebratory fist pump accidentally smacked referee Lewis Garrison in the head.

2. Wisconsin drops fourth in five at Rutgers

Things aren’t looking so hot in Madison right now.

The Badgers lost for the fourth time in five games, this one a 72-65 defeat at Rutgers.

Now, it’s early, but Wisconsin looks well off from being an NCAA tournament team now with a 5-5 record, albeit with quality wins against Marquette and Indiana on the resume. If the Badgers can’t find the consistency and success necessary to get a berth, it’ll be the second time in three years they’ll have missed the dance after going every single year from 1999-2017. I imagine that would get some people a little concerned about the trajectory Greg Gard’s program is on after he inherited the powerhouse program after Bo Ryan’s abrupt mid-2015-16 retirement.

The result Wednesday has to be especially disappointing given it comes on the heels of a 20-point win over the Hoosiers in Madison. That may be the silver lining for the Badgers as all five of their losses have come away from the Kohl Center.

Rutgers won despite making fewer 3s and free throws thanks to the 14 offensive rebounds it collected and by winning the turnover margin (14 to 11). Geo Baker scored 22 to lead the way.

3. Low-major, big stats

Let’s give it up to some of the little guys that had huge nights.

Lavar Batts, a 6-foot-3 sophomore for UNC Asheville – made 14 of 17 shots from the floor, 3 of 5 from distance and 9 of 9 from the free-throw line to score 40, albeit in a losing effort to South Carolina State, 90-85. Batts is the 11th player this year to hit 40 points in a game against Division I competition.

Oregon picks up commitment from Rutgers transfer Eugene Omoruyi

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Oregon picked up one of the best transfers on the market on Monday night as Rutgers forward Eugene Omoruyi pledged to the Ducks.

One of the Big Ten’s breakout players last season, the 6-foot-7 Omoruyi put up 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season for the Scarlet Knights as the junior shot 44 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range.

Hit hard with NBA draft early entries, Oregon has rebounded nicely with transfers over the past week. Omoruyi will likely need to sit out this season to play his final season, but he’s potentially a starter who averages double figures once he enters the lineup. The Ducks also took a commitment from perimeter specialist Anthony Mathis last week as the Oregon native will play with former high school teammate Payton Pritchard for his final season.

Oregon head coach Dana Altman has done a great job of hitting the transfer market to boost the talent of his roster each spring as the Ducks have stayed NCAA tournament contenders despite yearly losses. The Ducks will likely pursue some more transfer options as they still have more scholarships to fill.

Harper scores 27, Rutgers rolls Iowa 86-72

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — No. 22 Iowa has likely done enough to lock up an NCAA Tournament spot.

But it’s fair to start wondering if the Hawkeyes will be able to do anything once they get there.

Freshman Ron Harper Jr. scored a season-high 27 points and Rutgers rolled past Iowa 86-72 on Saturday in the Hawkeyes’ home finale.

Issa Thiam had 13 points for the Scarlet Knights (14-14, 7-11), who won their first road game over a ranked opponent as a Big Ten team. It was also the Scarlet Knights’ first victory over a Top 25 team away from home since defeating then-No. 13 Pittsburgh 77-64 in 2008.

“We got it rolling a little bit,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “It’s hard to win on the road, and it’s the best league in the country.”

Iowa played without coach Fran McCaffery, who was suspended by the school for two games for yelling at an official in a hallway heading to the locker room following Tuesday’s loss at Ohio State.

It was Iowa’s third loss in four games — and the Hawkeyes (21-8, 10-8) needed some late heroics to top Indiana in their only win in that stretch.

The scariest thing for the Hawkeyes was how lopsided it was. Iowa shot just 35.7 percent from the floor and turned it over 13 times.

“It didn’t seem like we able to get into any sort of offensive rhythm,” acting Iowa coach Andrew Francis said. “We haven’t shot the ball collectively as well as we know we’re capable of.”

Rutgers jumped all over the Hawkeyes in the first half, hitting seven 3s — including 3 straight from Thiam from the same corner — to jump ahead 39-30. The Scarlet Knights then went on an 8-2 run straight out of the locker room to make it 47-32.

Iowa, the national leader in free throws made entering play, got into the bonus with 13:21 left. But the Scarlet Knights kept getting open looks from beyond the arc from a generous Iowa defense, with Harper and Geo Baker hitting back-to-back 3s to help push the lead to 65-45.

“He’s getting better and better,” Pikiell said of Harper. “I think he’s going to be a really good player, and we got a little dose of that.””

Senior Nicholas Baer scored a season-high 17 points and Tyler Cook had 16 for Iowa (21-8, 10-8), which closed to 72-60 before allowing back-to-back dunks.

The Hawkeyes shot just 8 of 29 on 3s.

“We’re going through a small rough patch, I guess. Even in our wins we haven’t been playing our greatest ball,” Cook said. “But the fun part about it is finding a way to get better.”

BIG PICTURE

Iowa: It’s impossible to say whether McCaffery’s absence hurt the Hawkeyes. But he’s the coach for a reason. Iowa came out lethargic in front of a sellout crowd on Senior Day, and failed to make the halftime adjustments needed to at least make a game of it. “We don’t want to lose our confidence in who we are,” Francis said. “I think this team is still in a good place…we’re just missing some shots.”

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights, who lost at Fordham and needed overtime to beat Columbia in December, are one of the most improved teams in America — and they got revenge for losing to Iowa on a buzzer beater two weeks ago. They might win a game or two at the Big Ten tournament.

THE NUMBERS

Bohannon had 15 points, but he was just 4 of 12 shooting. Bohannon is streaky, and that could be an issue in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. …Rutgers was 11 of 23 on 3, with Harper leading the way at a 4 of 7 from deep. …Sophomore big man Luka Garza has had a strong season for Iowa, but he wasn’t at his best against the Scarlet Knights. The Hawkeyes were minus-24 with Garza on the floor. Garza had 10 points but just two rebounds.

HE SAID IT

“Of course we want coach (McCaffery) out there with us. He’s the main voice that we hear every day,” Cook said. But “even when he’s with us he’s not out there playing ball. So, we’ve got to go out there and execute.”

Winston scores 28, No. 10 Michigan State beats Rutgers 71-60

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Xavier Tillman got off to a shaky start, filling in for Nick Ward in the starting lineup for No. 10 Michigan State.

Tillman finished strong, scoring a career-high 19 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, and Cassius Winston had 28 points help the short-handed Spartans come back to beat Rutgers 71-60 Wednesday night.

“It’s going to bring our team closer together,” coach Tom Izzo said. “Whether we’ll have enough, I don’t know. We’ll find out, but I’m not counting us out.”

Michigan State missed Ward and Joshua Langford on offense against defensive-minded Rutgers. Ward had hand surgery Sunday and Langford had season-ending foot surgery earlier this month, taking more than 30 points out of Izzo’s lineup.

Tillman, in particular, made the most of his opportunity.

“It builds tremendous confidence,” he said. “But Sunday, we have to get off to a much better start. This was a big win for us.”

The Spartans (22-5, 13-3 Big Ten) moved a half-game ahead of No. 7 Michigan and No. 15 Purdue in the Big Ten standings. They will play against the Wolverines on the road Sunday.

Michigan State started 0 of 6 and trailed 32-35 at halftime after making just 30 percent of its shots. The Scarlet Knights led by 11 points early in the second half before Tillman had six straight points and Michigan State’s best chance to score was off offensive rebounds.

“I thought we were getting in a little bit of a groove,” Rutgers guard Geo Baker said after scoring 17 points. “It felt good, but we were playing on the road and that team can explode at any time.”

Matt McQuaid made a game-tying 3-pointer with 12:39 left after Michigan State’s fourth offensive rebound of the possession. Winston made a go-ahead layup the next time the Spartans had the ball and they ended up coasting to a double-digit victory.

“The game was won because we rebounded,” said Izzo, referring to his team’s 45-31 edge on the boards.

McQuaid, the only player on the team who shot well early in the game, scored 11 points and Kenny Goins had five points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Ahrens, who has been in and out of the lineup with injuries, limped off the court after aggravating his back injury in the second half.

Ron Harper had 11 points for the Scarlet Knights (12-14, 5-11) as they lost for the fifth time in six games.

“We just have to stay positive,” Baker said. “We’re a really young team and we have to learn how to win.”

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights compete hard in the Big Ten, but they don’t have enough scorers to win consistently in the highly competitive conference. They connected on fewer than 40 percent of their shots against the Spartans.

“Our numbers offensively are up over last year,” said coach Steve Pikiell, adding he’s counting on four freshmen to play regularly.

Michigan State: Tillman didn’t score until 5:39 left in the first half, but the sophomore forward scored the last basket of the first half and had six straight points early in the second half to cut the Spartans’ deficit to five.

“Xavier had some problems in the first half,” Izzo said. “I thought he did a helluva job in the second half.”

PLAYMAKER

Winston complemented his scoring by finishing with eight assists.

“Cassius is the best point guard in the league and he played like it,” Pikiell said.

UP NEXT

Rutgers: Host Minnesota on Sunday night.

Michigan State: Plays at Michigan on Sunday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25