Wednesday's college basketball: Williams, Hunter lead Purdue past No. 20 Ohio State 67-60
West Lafayette, Ind. — Trevion Williams found a fix for his shooting struggles over the weekend.
A few days later, he was content to help his teammates score.
The junior forward had 16 points, nine rebounds and a career-high eight assists to lead Purdue past No. 20 Ohio State 67-60 on Wednesday night.
“I could care less about scoring,” Williams said. “Getting my teammates involved just makes me happy. I feel like I’ve always been a good passer.”
It was all by design.
Williams expected the Buckeyes (5-1, 0-1 Big Ten) to double-team him when he posted up, so the preseason all-conference selection started finding teammates as they charged down the lane — once flicking the ball behind his head for a nifty play that normally would have brought a sellout crowd to its feet.
Instead, with only a few dozen fans and many more cardboard cutouts inside Mackey Arena, players had to create the energy themselves and Williams did just that.
“Outstanding,” guard Eric Hunter Jr. said when asked to critique Williams’ passing skills. “I think he threw one like right over the back of his head and after that I said, ‘We’ll be fine.’”
Hunter played well, too, scoring a season-high 15 points as Purdue (5-2, 1-0) won for the fourth time in five games. It was Matt Painter’s 50th win over a ranked team in his 16 seasons as Boilermakers coach.
And after a rocky non-conference start, Purdue is at least off on the right foot in league play.
Justice Sueing led the Buckeyes with 14 points and Duane Washington Jr. had 13.
But behind Williams and Hunter, the Boilermakers were just good enough.
They finally broke it open midway through the second half by methodically extending the margin to 59-45 when Hunter made a 3-pointer with 8:36 to play.
Ohio State closed to 65-59 when Washington made a 3 with 2:50 left, but the Buckeyes got no closer.
“I don’t think we were as physical as we needed to be for this league, and I don’t think we played with enough poise in the last five minutes of the game when it was a two-possession game,” coach Chris Holtmann said. “We’ve got to take it, learn from it and move forward.”
►(At) No. 7 Villanova 85, Butler 66: Collin Gillespie and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl each scored 18 points for No. 7 Villanova, and coach Jay Wright won his 600th career game in a victory over Butler.
Wright (600-268) was already Villanova’s winningest coach and he became the 39th coach in Division I history to reach 600 wins. Wright is 478-183 since he was hired in 2001 and he has built the Wildcats into one of the elite programs in college basketball. Wright won national championships in 2016 and 2018 and again has the preseason favorite to win the Big East – a team expected to contend for another national title.
Wright earned the milestone in the latest home opener for Villanova since Dec. 22, 1992, against Vermont. The pandemic wreaked havoc on the schedule and Villanova had home games against Temple, Saint Joseph’s and DePaul canceled or postponed. So the Wildcats hit the road and went 4-1 in Connecticut’s “Bubbleville” and won at Texas and Georgetown.
The Pavilion was empty, and fans might have stayed home anyway in a normal year on a night when a major winter storm dumped several inches of snow on campus.
Butler landed safely on Monday night to prepare for just its second game of the season, and first in 21 days after the program paused due to COVID-19 protocols. The 21-day in-season break was believed to be the longest between games in Butler history.
Jair Bolden scored 18 points and helped the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1 Big East) stay competitive with 3-pointers that kept them within two in the second half.
►(At) No. 11 Texas 79, Sam Houston State 63: Courtney Ramey and Greg Brown scored 17 points apiece as No. 11 Texas beat Sam Houston State.
Ramey also had six assists. Brown, a freshman, grabbed 10 rebounds, made two steals and blocked two shots.
Ramey, a junior, matched his career best with five 3-pointers. He made his fifth with 16 minutes remaining but only attempted two more. Ramey hit five 3s in a game twice as a freshman, when he shot 38.6% from behind the arc. Last season he slipped to 31%.
Andrew Jones added 13 points for Texas (6-1).
Zach Nutall led Sam Houston State (3-5) with 23 points. Donte Powers scored 11.
►No. 21 Duke 75, (at) Notre Dame 65: Sophomore forward Matthew Hurt scored 18 points and three Duke freshmen also cracked double digits as the 21st-ranked Blue Devils opened Atlantic Coast Conference play Wednesday night with a 75-65 win over Notre Dame.
D.J. Steward had 16 points to go with seven rebounds, while Jeremy Roach scored 14 and Jaemyn Brakefield added 10 for Duke, which led from the second minute onward.
The Blue Devils (3-2, 1-0) entered the game in jeopardy of falling below .500 for the first time since 1999, but convincingly steered clear.
Dane Goodwin scored 25 points for the Fighting Irish (2-3, 0-1), hitting 10 of 12 shots from the field with four 3-pointers. Prentiss Hubb added 12 points.
Duke shot 52% and went 8 of 15 on 3-pointers. The Blue Devils also outrebounded Notre Dame 33-23 and outscored the Irish 34-20 in the paint.