Big Ten-ACC Challenge Notebook #2

Penn State's Geary Claxton and the Nittany Lions held off Virginia Tech, 66-61, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday.

Penn State's Geary Claxton and the Nittany Lions held off Virginia Tech, 66-61, in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday.

Nov. 29, 2007

by Jeff Smith
Contributor, BigTen.org

Final Tally
The ACC defeated the Big Ten in the ninth annual Men's Big Ten/ACC Challenge, 8-3.


Spartan Statement
Michigan State (5-1) opened Wednesday's games with a statement, capturing a convincing victory over No. 24 N.C. State, 81-58. The 10th-ranked Spartans led by as many as 32 points with 12 minutes remaining in the game and boasted three players with 15 points or more. Drew Neitzel recorded a team-high 17 points, followed closely by Goran Suton with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Raymar Morgan, who added 15 points. MSU finished the game shooting 52 percent from the floor (35-of-67), while holding the Wolfpack to just 35 percent (17-of-48) on the night. Michigan State stormed out of the gates early, taking a 41-19 advantage into halftime, while holding N.C. State (4-2) to 5-of-23 (.217) from the field in the first half.
Izzo Inspired
"The difference in the game was turnovers and defense," said Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo, whose team also forced 15 Wolfpack turnovers. "That's the way it should be. It helps you score points and helps you get the job done."
Penn State Closes Out Challenge With Win Over Virginia Tech
Jamelle Cornley and David Jackson helped seal a 66-61 win for Penn State (3-3) with crucial free throws down the stretch, but it was Mike Walker's 17 points that helped lead the Nittany Lions over Virginia Tech (2-3) on Wednesday. Despite building a 13-point lead in the first half, Penn State allowed the Hokies back into the game late as A.D. Vassalo scored to bring VT within one at 60-59. Freshman Talor Battle, who finished with nine points along with teammate Jackson, hit a clutch shot down the stretch for Penn State that ultimately put the Hokies into a fouling situation. The win for the Nittany Lions helped right the ship for the team that was coming off an 0-3 mark at the Old Spice Classic over Thanksgiving weekend.
Ohio State Falls to No. 1 North Carolina
Taking a 32-29 advantage into halftime, Ohio State (4-2) appeared to have the momentum over the top-ranked Tar Heels, but a shooting slump in the second half allowed North Carolina (6-0) to take an 11-point win out of Columbus, 66-55. After tying the game at 39-39 in the second half, the Buckeyes missed their next 17 shots from the field and quickly fell behind 57-43. OSU freshman Jon Diebler, who was in a season shooting slump of his own, came out of it on Wednesday with a team-high 19 points. Jamar Butler added 17 points, while David Lighty had 10. Wayne Ellington led the Tar Heels with 23 points, while Tyler Hansbrough added 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Finding the Hole, But Not the Bucket
"It was deja vu from last Friday night, that second-half shooting," said Buckeye head coach Thad Matta said. "The ball just would not go in the basket." Added Jamar Butler: "The ball went down in the hole. It seemed like a ghost was in there, knocking it out."
Michigan Suffers Defeat in Return to Ann Arbor
In just its third game in Crisler Arena this year, Michigan (3-4) battled with Boston College (5-0) on Wednesday before falling 77-64. BC's Tyrese Rice scored 28 points and had five assists, while freshman Manny Harris led the Wolverines with 19 points, followed by sophomore DeShawn Sims with 16. The Wolverines trailed by one at halftime, 34-33, but the Eagles outscored U-M 12-0 during a run in the second half to secure the game.
 

 

On BC's two-minute, 12-0 run, Michigan head coach John Beilein felt each of his players tried to bite off more than they could chew.

"We're up by four and all of a sudden they're up by two, and now (one player says) `I've got to do it' and the next guy says, `now I've got to do it.' And all of a sudden we get this quick turnaround and we're taking chances on steals, taking a quick shot when we're really guarded. I think it's just guys really wanting to win, but they're not staying solid during that time; they need to get their composure."


Illini Drop Heartbreaker at Maryland
Credit Illinois (4-2) for showing up and being ready to play, but ultimately poor perimeter shooting and a career-high 18 points from Maryland's Eric Hayes led to a 69-61 loss for the Fighting Illini. The first half, which ended with both teams tied at 32 apiece, was highlighted by nine ties and eight lead changes. Illinois stood tough of the boards, grabbing a rebound advantage of 25-18, including 11 caroms on the offensive end. Three Illini players scored in double digits Wednesday, led by Calvin Brock with 13 points. Shaun Pruitt and Rodney Alexander had 10 points apiece. Maryland is now 2-0 at home and 5-2 overall.
These Guys Are Freshmen?
Throughout the 2007 Challenge, the Big Ten saw several impressive performances by its freshman class. In Monday's loss to Wake Forest, Iowa freshman Jarryd Cole led the Hawkeyes with a team-high 14 points, while classmates Jake Kelly added nine points and Jeff Peterson dished out seven assists. In Tuesday's action, Indiana's Eric Gordon scored a Challenge-high 29 points in the Hoosiers' winning effort. Despite falling to Virginia, Northwestern saw a team-best performance from newcomer Michael Thompson, who netted 14 points in the loss. Minnesota freshman Blake Hoffarber came off the bench to post a team-high 12 points, while Purdue was led by freshman Scott Martin and his 13 points in the loss to Clemson. At Duke, Wisconsin freshman Jon Leuer's career highs of 12 points and six rebounds led the Badgers.

On Wednesday, Michigan freshman Manny Harris topped the Wolverines with 19 points in their loss to Boston College as did Ohio State freshman Jon Diebler's 19 in the Buckeyes' loss to North Carolina. Add in Penn State freshman Talor Battle's clutch shot down the stretch for a Nittany Lion win and those impressive rookie performances add up in this year's Challenge. If you are keeping score at home, a Big Ten team was led by a freshman in scoring in eight of the 11 Challenge contests.


Challenge Teams Find Success at Home
In the 11-game 2007 edition of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the home team turned in an 8-3 overall record.

Top Five Big Ten/ACC Challenge Scorers
Eric Gordon, IND (29 points) vs. Georgia Tech
Tyrese Rice, BC (28) vs. Michigan
Wayne Ellington, UNC (23) vs. Ohio State
Mamadi Diane, VA (22) vs. Northwestern
J.J. Hickson, NCST (21) vs. Michigan State