Last night in the Big Ten: Nebraska stays perfect with double-overtime win

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Last night in the Big Ten: Nebraska stays perfect with double-overtime win

Who knows how long Nebraska’s run is going to last here at the beginning of Big Ten play. But right now? It sure is fun to watch.

After grabbing upset wins over Indiana and Maryland to start off their Big Ten schedule, the Huskers moved to a perfect 3-0 in conference games Thursday night with a double-overtime victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes. It’s the first time Nebraska’s been 3-0 in conference play since the mid 1970s.

The backcourt duo of Glynn Watson Jr. and Tai Webster continue to pile up the points, combining for a whopping 57 of the team’s 93-point total, Watson accounting for 34 of those on a jaw-dropping 7-for-8 night from behind the 3-point line.

Nebraska had its chance to win the thing in regulation when gifted the ball with just a couple seconds left. Evan Taylor’s shot attempt missed, but he was fouled. Still, he missed the free throw, and the game went to overtime.

Iowa went up by four twice in overtime, including on a Jordan Bohannon 3-pointer with a minute and a half to go, but Nebraska came back, Webster hitting four free throws in the final 40 seconds of the first overtime period to tie the game.

Peter Jok’s 3-pointer in double overtime gave the Hawkeyes their only lead of that period, but it was soon wiped away, again by free throws as the Huskers hit four of them in the final 68 seconds to grab the win.

Nebraska got 26 of its points off 19 Iowa turnovers and owned the fast-break battle 10-0. The Hawkeyes lost despite beating the Huskers on the boards, 51-42, and smoking them in second-chance points, 27-5. But Iowa also missed 20 tries from 3-point range, while Nebraska scored 19 points from the free-throw line.

Another sensational scoring night from Jok went to waste for the Hawkeyes. He had 34 points and continues to light up the scoreboard night in and night out. The conference’s leading scorer, Jok has four games of at least 30 points this season.

Miraculously, the two teams at the top of the Big Ten standings at 3-0 are Nebraska and Michigan State. The Huskers went an ugly 6-6 during their non-conference schedule, and folks were panicking over the five losses the Spartans suffered before the start of Big Ten competition. Now they’re both in first place.

Another Northwestern cold snap as Minnesota bags another statement win

Minnesota looked every bit ready to challenge for a spot in the Big Ten conversation this season with that gloriously entertaining overtime loss to Michigan State in the conference-opener.

Since, all the Gophers have done is continue to flex their muscles. After winning on the road at Purdue, Minnesota went into Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday and took down Northwestern. In any other year, that would hardly be regarded as a statement win of any kind, but the Cats are legit this year and are included in many current NCAA tournament bracket projections.

So count Thursday’s win as another statement from the Gophers, who capitalized on some cold shooting by the Cats to grab a second straight road victory.

Minnesota and Northwestern both started off on fire, both teams shooting better than 50 percent in the first half. Five triples helped the Cats to a narrow halftime lead, but their 3-point shooting fell off a cliff after halftime. Northwestern shot a miserable 28.9 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes and went 1-for-15 from behind the 3-point line. Credit Minnesota for putting together a back-breaking 10-0 run in the middle of the second half that sent the Gophers from down seven to up three. After grabbing the lead during that run, Minnesota didn't trail again.

This is becoming a bit of a disturbing trend for the Cats, racing out to hot starts only to go cold late in games. Look back to that win over Dayton, where Northwestern shot better than 50 percent in the first half and under 30 percent in the second half, making just one basket over the final 10 minutes. The Cats shot better than 55 percent in the first half of their conference-opening win over Penn State but just barely better than 30 percent in the second half. And while shooting numbers weren't as drastic in losses to Butler and Notre Dame, the final seconds of those games could have and perhaps should have sealed Northwestern wins instead of leading to heart-breaking losses.

In a quest for enough conference wins to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time, Northwestern’s got to stop doing that — especially at home.

Meanwhile, Nate Mason continued to tear it up for Minnesota. He scored 12 points, handed out seven assists and grabbed five rebound in Thursday’s win and is now averaging 20.3 points, 7.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds in conference play.

Loss to Purdue, Bates-Diop’s injury make for tough night for Ohio State

The biggest headline of the night for Ohio State had little to do with the outcome of Thursday night’s game against Purdue, as junior forward Keith Bates-Diop has a stress fracture in his leg and will miss the remainder of the season.

That’s a real bummer for the Buckeyes, who are one of many Big Ten squads floating in bubble territory when it comes to NCAA tournament hopes. Trying to get on the right side of that bubble without Bates-Diop will be tough. Despite dealing with the injury this season, Bates-Diop was having a nice statistical year, averaging nearly 10 points and better than five rebounds a game.

Thursday night, Ohio State dropped to 0-2 in conference play with a gut-wrenching loss to Purdue. It was mostly a tight game, and though the Buckeyes never led in the second half, they were right there at the end, erasing a five-point Boilermakers lead with a little more than two minutes to play. Ohio State tied the game at 75 with 15 seconds left, Trevor Thompson corralling a terrible attempt by Marc Loving and putting it in and drawing the foul. But Thompson missed the free throw and followed by fouling Caleb Swanigan at the other end. Swanigan put in one of his two free throws to get the Boilers out of Columbus with a win.

All in all, it was a real tough night for Ohio State.

Michigan State defensive lineman Auston Robinson off team after being charged with sexual misconduct

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Michigan State defensive lineman Auston Robinson off team after being charged with sexual misconduct

An ugly offseason for Michigan State's football program got uglier Friday.

Defensive lineman Auston Robertson was first charged with sexual misconduct before a statement from head coach Mark Dantonio announcing that Robertson is no longer a member of the team.

Robertson, a potential starter on the defensive line who played in seven games as a freshman last season, was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct Friday after police said he raped a woman.

This is unrelated to an ongoing sexual-assault investigation involving three other Michigan State football players and a staff member, all four of which were suspended earlier this year.

Robertson came to Michigan State with some controversy. He was involved in another serious situation before even signing with the Spartans, accused of improperly touching a female classmate during his senior year of high school and receiving a misdemeanor battery charge. That charge was later removed from his record after completing a diversionary program earlier this year.

Dantonio had this to say in a statement Friday:

"The criminal sexual conduct charges announced today against Auston Robertson are of the most serious nature. Sexual assault has no place in our community. While there is an ongoing criminal process, we're extremely disappointed that Auston put himself in this position. He is no longer a member of our football program.

"Due to the charges he was facing during his recruitment, we took precaution in allowing Auston to be a part of our football program, including a thorough vetting, which we acknowledged publicly at his singing. This was a multiple-step process that continued through his final admission in the summer.

"Following his arrival on campus, he underwent an extensive educational process with specific prerequisites put in place for his participation as a student-athlete. This included daily supervised sessions within the football program and regular meetings with university staff addressing appropriate behavior and developmental growth. He also successfully completed his one-year diversionary program directed by the court, which included a 22-week course focused on behavior changes that began in Indiana and was transferred to the state of Michigan. Despite these measures, Auston broke our trust and expectations by putting himself in a compromising situation.

"Our players are representatives not only of themselves and their families, but also Michigan State University, this football program and all of those who support us. We will continue to emphasize and enforce the high standards of integrity, respect and accountability that I have for everyone in this program. We expect all of our players to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and principles of this university."

Robertson was a candidate to start along the defensive line after recording three tackles and forcing a fumble as a reserve last season.

Despite rough spring game, Wilton Speight still tops Michigan's quarterback depth chart

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Despite rough spring game, Wilton Speight still tops Michigan's quarterback depth chart

Wilton Speight is still on top of Michigan's quarterback depth chart, despite the fact that the incumbent starter had an ugly performance in the Wolverines' spring game.

Speight threw two interceptions and completed just nine of his 26 passing attempts in the spring's fanciest scrimmage. But Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters Wednesday that Speight is still ahead of everyone at the game's most important position.

"It'll always be (a competition,)" Harbaugh said in Detroit, his quotes published by the Detroit Free Press. "Still over the course of the whole spring practice, Wilton on our depth chart, he's No. 1. But it's a meritocracy. By your effort and by your talent you will be known. That's a good thing for our football team.

"We get it in camp and we go through camp, somebody that stands out and it's undeniable, that's what we're looking for, there's that one guy. Probably eight, nine, 10 practices, that's probably the range where you make up your mind on something like that. It's always going to be that meritocracy."

The challengers are John O'Korn, who was No. 2 to Speight last season, and Brandon Peters, a freshman from Indiana who had a nice spring game with 160 yards and a touchdown on just nine completions as well as a rushing touchdown.

Speight completed 61.6 percent of his passes last season, throwing for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. O'Korn completed 20 of his 34 passing attempts in game action last season, throwing for 173 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Peters was ranked as a top-160 recruit nationally by Rivals, a four-star prospect and the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2016.

Unsurprisingly for the always-secretive Harbaugh, the head coach said the quarterback competition will be ongoing and last for some time. It would be no shock to see things play out much like they did last season, when Michigan's starting quarterback was a mystery until the offense took the field in the season-opener.