Long streak over, Purdue looks to rebound against Spartans
A look at the upcoming week around the Big Ten Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 3 Purdue at No. 4 Michigan State, Saturday. The Boilermakers (23-3, 12-1) had their 19-game win streak end with a 64-63 loss to No. 14 Ohio State on Wednesday night, and now they finish their toughest week of the season with a trip to East Lansing. The Spartans (23-3, 11-2) have won seven in a row and are coming off a three-point win at Iowa.
LOOKING AHEAD: Penn State beat Maryland 74-70 on Wednesday night for its fourth win in five games. Given the way the Nittany Lions have played of late and the opportunity for quality wins coming, a run at an NCAA Tournament berth is possible. After a game Sunday at 13th-place Illinois, they close with No. 14 Ohio State (home), No. 3 Purdue (away), No. 20 Michigan (home) and surprising Nebraska (away). The sixth-place Lions (17-9, 7-6) are shooting for their first .500 or better conference record since they went 9-9 in 2010-11.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Minnesota has been waiting for heralded freshman Isaiah Washington to emerge, and it started happening last week. He had 15 points and seven assists in a loss to Iowa and a career-high 26 points and six rebounds in an overtime loss to Michigan. Those efforts earned him conference freshman of the week honors. This week he had 10 points and a season high-tying eight rebounds in a loss to Nebraska.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Wisconsin’s five-game losing streak is its longest since dropping six in a row in January 2009. … Nebraska has won four Big Ten road games, its highest conference road win total since 1998-99. … Michigan made just five field goals in the second half of its 61-52 loss at Northwestern on Tuesday. … Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy has a nation-best 21 double-doubles and is tied with Mychal Thompson (1976-76) for the school record. … The 43 points Indiana allowed against Rutgers were a season low for the Hoosiers and the fewest they’ve given up in a Big Ten game since 1996-97.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Purdue (16-8, 7-3) has played itself into NCAA Tournament contention with wins in three straight games and six of the last seven. The Boilermakers host Minnesota on Thursday night to begin a closing stretch of four of six games at home, where they are 10-2. Dominique Oden has scored 20 or more points in four of the last five games, Ae’Rianna Harris ranks among the conference leaders in field-goal percentage, rebounding and blocks and Andreona Keys averages 13.6 points per game to lead a balanced offense. The Boilermakers are trying for a third straight NCAA appearance and seventh in eight years.
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