(Video of Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas courtesy of Big Ten Network)
Big Ten Scoreboard for Dec. 29:
No. 2 Michigan 88, Central Michigan 73: Guard Trey Burke tied a career-high with 11 assists and also scored 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting to lead the Wolverines (13-0). The Chippewas didn't play badly, but the Wolverines picked apart their zone defense with quick, crisp passes around the perimeter and into the paint. The constant movement freed freshman Nik Stauskas on the perimeter, where he was 5 of 8 from 3-point range. Stauskas is shooting 57 percent from 3. Michigan finished off an undefeated nonconference schedule for the eighth time in program history.
No. 15 Illinois 81, Auburn 79: Playing at the United Center in front of a pro-Illini crowd, coach John Groce's team forced 18 turnovers and hit 27 of 42 free throws to shut down the Tigers. After both teams shot over 50 percent in the first half, Illinois (13-1) opened the second on a 10-4 run over the first 6:50. Auburn fought back to within a point but couldn't overtake the Illini. Guard Tracy Abrams had 27 points to lead Illinois in a game where the team's leading scorer, Brandon Paul (3 of 12 for 13 points), struggled to find any rhythm.
No. 10 Ohio State 87, Chicago State 44: The Buckeyes' five double-digit scorers were led by Deshaun Thomas, who made 7 of 13 shots for 17 points and also had four assists. Coming off of the loss to Kansas on Dec. 22, Ohio State (10-2) was dominant on the boards (44-18) and moved the ball well in rhythm, rarely forcing shots from the perimter that weren't there. The 3s rained in for the Buckeyes in the second half as they made 6 of 8, including three from reserve F Amedeo Della Valle. Ohio State opens Big Ten play at home vs. Nebraska on Wednesday.
Penn State 84, Duquesne 74: Guard D.J. Newbill set career highs with 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Nittany Lions (8-4) ended their nonconference season with a four-game winning streak. Penn State won the rebound battle 46-23, and senior G Nick Colella scored 15 points on 5-of-7 3-point shooting. The Nittany Lions open conference play at Wisconsin on Thursday.
Nebraska 68, Nicholls State 59: The Colonels rallied from a 19-point second-half deficit and trailed by just four with under a minute left, but the Huskers nailed all 10 of their free throws in the final minute to hold on. Guard Brandon Ubel led Nebraska (9-4) with 18 points, including 10 of 11 on free throws. The Huskers open Big Ten play at the Buckeyes on Wednesday.
Wisconsin 87, Samford 51: The Badgers (9-4) had a 13-2 run to start the game and were never challenged. They used their superior size for a 43-20 edge on the glass and also won 13 second-chance offensive boards. Five Badgers scored in double digits, led by reserve F Frank Kaminsky, who had 16 points and was 4 for 4 from the 3-point line. Fourteen players saw time and 11 scored. The Badgers open Big Ten play at home against Penn State on Thursday.
Purdue 73, William and Mary 66: Despite a lackluster defensive effort –- the Tribe shot 49 percent from the field –- the Boilermakers held on to improve to 6-6 before conference play starts Wednesday. The game was tied at 58 with just under eight minutes left, but Terone Johnson hit two jumpers to extend the margin. A.J. Hammons chipped in 14 points for the Boilermakers, who open league play with Illinois.
|Illinois G Tracy Adams set a career high with 27 points Saturday. (US Presswire)|
Star of the day: Illinois' Abrams set a career high with 27 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 13 of 15 from the free-throw line. He consistenly broke through Auburn's defense and either finished the layup or forced the defense to collapse. He also tied Paul with a team-high four assists and led the team with eight rebounds.
Inside the box score -- 3 numbers worth a second look
28.6 -- Illinois' 3-point shooting percentage on Saturday after going 4 for 14 from beyond the arc. The Fighting Illini have attemtped the second-most 3-pointers in the country but are just 51st with a 37.3 shooting percentage.
48.1 -- Ohio State's free-throw percentage after making 13 of 27 against Chicago State. The biggest culprits were Thomas and Lenzelle Smith Jr., who combined to go 2 of 10 from the line.
Quote of the day: Ohio State coach Thad Matta to the Big Ten Network:
“We had a couple guys that weren't ready to play today, and with what were getting ready to go into [Big Ten play], that can't happen. We never ask our guys to play perfect, but doggoneit, you gotta be there ready to do your job, and today a couple guys weren't.”
Next games: Dec. 31
No. 19 Michigan State at No. 11 Minnesota, 2 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
No. 5 Indiana at Iowa, 4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
For more Big Ten coverage, follow Mike Singer and Dave Carey @CBSSportsBigTen.