West Lafayette, Ind. — Purdue leading scorer Carsen Edwards has struggled from the field in the second half of the Big Ten season, including a recent two-game stretch when he was made 7 of 40 shots.
Edwards has returned to form in the past two games. The junior guard set the tone Saturday by scoring 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting, helping the No. 14 Boilermakers beat Ohio State 86-51 to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten. Fellow contender Michigan State was stunned by Indiana on Saturday.
“I took what the defense gave me and I was able to make some shots,” said Edwards, who hit half of his eight 3-point attempts. “I was trying to come out aggressive and I was able to move without the ball. I got some good passes from my teammates with the screens they set for me."
Purdue coach Matt Painter said teams have defended Edwards differently, so he has to adjust.
“You take what the defense gives you and you play off of it,” Painter said. “When he moves the basketball and gets two people on the basketball and gets it out of his hands quick, he puts people in a bind. If you let him dribbled into his 3s a lot, he’s going to get into a good rhythm.”
Matt Haarms had 12 points and Aaron Wheeler added 10 for the Boilermakers (22-7, 15-3). It was the final home game for senior starters Ryan Cline and Grady Eifert, who each scored eight points.
“It was probably one of the better games we played all year,” Painter said.
Edwards scored 19 of his points in the first half to help the Boilermakers to a 48-20 halftime lead.
“We knocked down some shots, we played good defense,” Painter said of the first half. “We did a good job of executing.”
Jaedon LeDee led Ohio State (18-11, 8-10) with 16 points. Justin Ahrens was scoreless after netting 29 points in his previous game.
Purdue sank 55.9 percent of its shots. The Buckeyes hit just 33.3 percent. The Boilermakers also made 11 3-pointers compared to two for Ohio State.
“I was disappointed with how we performed,” Buckeyes coach Chris Holtmann said. “We should probably do a better job of getting our guys ready to go. They hit some tough shots, but that’s just what they do.”
The Boilermakers engineered a 16-2 run, including 11 straight points, to lead 32-13 during the first half.
“We got a big lead and we never looked back from there,” Cline said. “Once we were making shots, we were just tough to guard.”
The Buckeyes played without leading scorer and rebounder Kaleb Wesson, who was suspended Friday for a violation of athletic department policy. He is expected to return this season, Holtmann said.
Holtmann said the Buckeyes missed his defense most of all.
“The gap behind his defense and the other guys’ defense at that position is seismic,” Holtmann said. “That’s where we struggled.”
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(At) No. 19 Wisconsin 61, Penn State 57: Brevin Pritzl came off the bench to score 17 points and lead Wisconsin past Penn State.
The junior has long had a reputation as one of the team’s best shooters, but sometimes hesitant to fire. Coming into this game, he was averaging less than 5 points for the Badgers (20-9, 12-6).
But he hit all five of his field goal attempts, including four 3-pointers, and was 3 of 4 from the line. He also scored 14 of his points in the second half as the Badgers climbed out of an early hole.
“He’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever seen,” Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ said. “I tell him all the time. ‘Stop passing the ball. Shoot the ball.’”
Pritzl was also involved in a no-call in the closing seconds that helped deny Penn State (12-17, 5-13) a chance to tie.
Held without a field goal for the final eight minutes, the Nittany Lions still had a chance with 14 seconds left, down 59-57.
After a timeout, Penn State’s Rasir Bolton tried to throw the ball to Lamar Stevens at the elbow. But Wisconsin’s Khalil Iverson tipped it away, and the referees ruled it went off Stevens’ hand. After a review, the ball stayed with Wisconsin.
Nate Reuvers was fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, but converted just one at the free throw line, leaving the door open for the Nittany Lions again. But there was a collision between Bolton and Pritzl near the sideline with less than 2 seconds left. No foul was called, and the referees ruled the ball went off Bolton.
Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said the Badgers weren’t trying to foul intentionally in that situation, up three, and Pritzl said Bolton initiated the contact.
But Penn State coach Pat Chambers argued after the game that Bolton should have been awarded three free throws, believing he made a shooting motion after the contact.
“It’s unfortunate the players can’t decide the game, but it is what it is,” Chambers said. “We’ve got to move on. We won’t play the victim.”
It wasn’t a particularly pretty game offensively for either team. The Nittany Lions shot 35 percent, below their average of nearly 42 percent.
Meanwhile, take away Pritzl, and Wisconsin made just 34 percent of its field goal attempts.
Happ scored 14 for the Badgers. Stevens led Penn State with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Josh Reaves added 14.
Rutgers 86, (at) No. 22 Iowa 72: Ron Harper Jr. scored a season-high 27 points and Rutgers rolled past Iowa in the Hawkeyes’ home finale.
Issa Thiam had 13 points for the Scarlet Knights (14-14, 7-11), who exacted revenge on Iowa after the Hawkeyes used a buzzer beater to beat them in Piscataway two weeks ago.
Iowa played without coach Fran McCaffery, who was suspended by the school for two games for yelling at an official in a hallway heading to the locker room following Tuesday’s loss at Ohio State.
It was Iowa’s third loss in four games — and the Hawkeyes (21-8, 10-8) needed some late heroics to top Indiana in their only win in that stretch.
The scariest thing for the Hawkeyes was how lopsided it was.
Rutgers jumped all over the Hawkeyes in the first half, hitting seven 3's — including 3 straight from Thiam from the same corner — to jump ahead 39-30. The Scarlet Knights then went on an 8-2 run straight out of the locker room to make it 47-32.
Iowa, the national leader in free throws made entering play, got into the bonus with 13:21 left. But the Scarlet Knights kept getting open looks from beyond the arc from a generous Iowa defense, with Harper and Geo Baker hitting back-to-back 3s to help push the lead to 65-45.