Purdue states case as Big Ten's best with double-digit win over Wisconsin


Purdue states case as Big Ten's best with double-digit win over Wisconsin

We know the middle of the Big Ten is wide open, but what about the top?

Wisconsin entered as the consensus favorite, undefeated in its first two conference games, but perhaps Purdue belongs at the forefront of the conversation after the Boilermakers lit up the Badgers on Sunday afternoon at Mackey.

Purdue shot the lights out to the tune of 52.2 percent as Wisconsin struggled offensively in a 66-55 game, one that saw a dominant performance from Caleb Swanigan. The Boilers' big man scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, doing it all with his 14th double-double of the season. He's posted a double-double in each of his last eight games.

The Badgers' rough offensive afternoon started early. They shot just 34.5 percent from the field and went through an ugly scoreless stretch that lasted nearly six minutes. The Badgers got just one basket — a Khalil Iverson dunk — during a nearly nine-minute stretch and ended the first half without a 3-pointer, 0-for-6 as a team. But Purdue couldn’t do too much to capitalize in the first half. The Boilers shot a stellar 52.6 percent and got a couple big 3s from Dakota Mathias, one that put them up 10 with under four minutes until halftime. But Purdue turned the ball over a whopping 11 times over the first 20 minutes, leading directly to seven Wisconsin points.

The Badgers kept it close enough in the opening stages of the second half and had an opportunity to close within a possession when the game turned around. A Boilers turnover led to a breakaway for Wisconsin guard D'Mitrik Trice, but he was caught too far under the basket and blew the fast-break layup. Purdue's P.J. Thompson went down and splashed in a 3-pointer to turn a four-point lead into a seven-point lead and kick off a 12-0 run that featured seven straight points from Ryan Cline.

Simultaneously, the Badgers went on another long scoring drought, more than four minutes without a point and almost five minutes without a made basket. Wisconsin couldn't close within single digits again, Purdue's 16-point advantage created by the 12-0 run hitting a game-high 17 en route to an 11-point victory.

The Badgers fared much better shooting the ball in the second half but still finished with a low 39-percent mark on the game. Bronson Koenig was pretty much nowhere to be found, scoring just nine points. Ethan Happ had a team-high 17 points and had a whopping six steals but struggled at times against Purdue seven-footer Isaac Haas. Nigel Hayes scored 10 points for the Badgers.

Swanigan led the way for the Boilers with his big day, and Haas was also in double figures with 13 points.

The win sent Purdue to 14-3 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play. The Boilers next travel to play Iowa on Thursday.

The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for Wisconsin and dropped its record to 13-3 overall and 2-1 in the conference. The Badgers take on Ohio State on Thursday.

Kansas mops the floor with another Big Ten team as Purdue bounced from NCAA tournament


Kansas mops the floor with another Big Ten team as Purdue bounced from NCAA tournament

Purdue was hands-down the best team in the Big Ten this season. But when it's all said and done at the end of this NCAA tournament, Kansas might be the best team in the country.

The Jayhawks proved to be just way too much for the Boilermakers in Thursday night's Sweet Sixteen matchup, using a monster second half to sprint away from the Big Ten regular-season champs and win by a 98-66 score.

Purdue's season came to an end with the loss, though it will be a memorable campaign, one that stretched to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2010.

But much like it did this past weekend against Michigan State, Kansas exploded on a massive second-half run and went from a narrow lead to an gargantuan one in a hurry, flexing its muscles as perhaps the best team remaining in this tournament field.

The incredibly talented duo of Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson scorched the Boilers, combining for 41 points. But it was actually Devonte' Graham that along with Mason led the Jayhawks with 26 points.

Kansas shot 53.6 percent from 3-point range on the night, splashing home 15 of the 28 triples it hoisted.

Purdue's own player of the year candidate, Caleb Swanigan, helped the team stay alive in the early stages of the second half after a 20-7 run gave Kansas a seven-point lead at halftime. After an ugly first half for the Big Ten Player of the Year — six points, two rebounds, 1-for-2 from the field, four turnovers — Swanigan's third 3-pointer of the night cut the gap to just two about three and a half minutes into the second half.

But that's when the Jayhawks took off, putting together an eye-popping 31-9 run to turn that two-point advantage into a 24-point lead in little more than 10 minutes. At one point, Kansas scored eight straight to grab its first double-digit lead of the night, the capper to that burst a Jackson 3-pointer that seemed to end the game right then and there despite the ample amount of time remaining on the clock.

When it was all over, Kansas outscored Purdue 45-15 from that two-point deficit at 53-51.

Swanigan, despite that poor first half, finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Vincent Edwards, who scored a combined 42 points in the first two games of this tournament, had himself an quiet night with just eight points.

Purdue shot 55.6 percent in the first half but just 31 percent over the game's final 20 minutes. The Boilers also turned the ball over 16 times, leading to a boatload of points for the Jayhawks.

The win advanced Kansas to the Elite Eight, where it will take on Oregon, which beat Purdue's conference-mate Michigan earlier Thursday night. The Jayhawks have been piling up the points in the tournament and became the first team to score 90 or more points in each of its first three tournament games in 22 years.

The loss brought an end to things for Purdue, which had a terrific season despite the blowout finish. The Boilers won the Big Ten title outright and made their third Sweet Sixteen under Matt Painter.

Michigan's magical March ends in one-point loss to Oregon in Sweet Sixteen

Michigan's magical March ends in one-point loss to Oregon in Sweet Sixteen

Michigan's March magic finally ran out.

The guy who's been so fantastic throughout his senior season, point guard Derrick Walton Jr., missed a game-winning 3-point try at the buzzer, and the Wolverines fell to the Oregon Ducks by a 69-68 final score in the Sweet Sixteen.

It was an incredibly competitive game between the Big Ten Tournament champs and the Pac-12 regular-season champs, with neither side ever leading by more than six.

But Moe Wagner, who scored a career-high 26 points in Michigan's second-round win over Louisville, was pretty much a non-factor in this one, scoring just seven points on 3-for-10 shooting.

Still, seniors Walton and Zak Irvin kept an unusually cold-shooting group of Wolverines alive with a combined 39 points, 23 of which came after halftime. D.J. Wilson also scored in double figures with 12, all coming on 3-pointers.

But Michigan, which had been on fire offensively for much of the last month, shot just 43.1 percent from the field and missed 20 of its 31 shots from behind the arc.

The Wolverines actually shot under 40 percent over the opening 20 minutes as the two defenses did good work for these typically high-scoring squads. Michigan turned the ball over seven times before the break but trailed by just two as it went to the locker room.

The tit-for-tat nature of the game continued at the outset of the second half before Oregon reached its game-high six-point lead, but Michigan responded with seven straight and grabbed its first lead of the second half around the 11-minute mark. The Ducks answered that mini surge with six straight of their own, part of a larger 10-4 spurt, before Wilson and Walton hit back-to-back triples to once again give the Wolverines a narrow advantage, this time with a little more than four minutes remaining.

Oregon and Irvin traded buckets from there, and a Walton jumper was Michigan's sixth straight make from the field, putting the Wolverines up three with under two minutes to play. But Michigan didn't score again, and Jordan Bell and Tyler Dorsey got back-to-back layups, the latter the game-winning one ahead of Walton's missed 3-point attempt as time ran out.

Dorsey was fantastic for the Ducks, scoring 20 points, his sixth straight game with at least 20 points. Bell had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Oregon advanced to its second straight Elite Eight with the win.

Michigan's entertaining end-of-season run is over. Entering Thursday night's game in Kansas City, the Wolverines had won seven straight and 10 of their last 12. Those two losses came by a combined seven points. Add this loss in and just eight points separated Michigan from 13 consecutive wins.

Certainly this group of Wolverines will be remembered for its sensational four wins in four days at the Big Ten Tournament after that horrifying aborted takeoff, as well as for reaching the third Sweet Sixteen in the last five seasons under John Beilein.