Player of the week
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Can anyone contain Deshaun Thomas? Well, Duke and Kansas have come closest, holding the 6-foot-7 junior to a season-low 16 points in their games — both Ohio State losses. But Thomas has scored 20 points in four consecutive games now, and leads the Big Ten in scoring by a wide margin both in overall games (20.3 ppg) and through four conference games (22.0 ppg). He helped lead the Buckeyes to 3-1 in the Big Ten on Sunday with 20 points against then-No. 2 Michigan in Columbus. It was No. 11 Ohio State’s only game of the week, but a big one — its first win over a ranked team this season.
Thomas wasn’t perfect, though, as Michigan came back from a 21-point deficit to tie the score 46-46 with 5:58 left. Thomas made a layup to extend the Buckeyes’ lead to 52-46 minutes later, but it was his only basket of the final 10 minutes. It’s a good sign for Ohio State that he didn’t have to close the game by himself, though. Thomas finished the game 8-for-18 from the field and was his usual self from 3-point range, burying three from outside.
Trevor Mbakwe, Minnesota
It hasn’t resulted in a whole lot of team success, but Mbakwe is back to posting the numbers we’ve come to expect in the past decade it’s seemed he’s been in Minneapolis. He’s posted three consecutive double-doubles, and blocked a combined eight shots in thos games. He’s averaging 15 points and 10.3 rebounds in the last trio, hitting 15-of-26 form the field. The Gophers have dropped their past two games after starting 3-0 in the Big Ten, including Thursday’s 83-75 loss at home against No. 5 Michigan.
Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Payne got into a widely reported altercation with teammate Branden Dawson at the team hotel before Wednesday’s game at Penn State, then went out and had a career game. Payne and Dawson were suspended for the first half, but in one 6-minute stretch Payne had 16 of 19 Spartan points in the second half. Payne, a 6-10 junior forward, finished with 20 points and has scored in double digits in three consecutive games — a first for his career. He’s 17-for-22 from the field in those three games, even hitting both of the 3-pointers he’s put up. Michigan State has won four straight games since dropping its Big Ten opener at Minnesota.
Reggie Hearn, Northwestern
Hearn helped the Wildcats knock Illinois out of the top 25 on Thursday by hitting 4-of-7 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. He also hit 9-of-10 from the free-throw line, including six consecutive in the final minute to help seal the win in Champaign. Hearn has taken over the majority of the scoring and leadership responsibilities from the injured Drew Crawford in the backcourt as Northwestern has started 2-3 in the Big Ten.
Brandon Paul, Illinois
Share the ball, Brandon! Illinois fans are bracing for their team’s latest collapse after a three-game losing streak. Paul has no assists in those games. He scored 21 points in two of those losses, but has shot 16-of-45 (.355) from the field, including 4-of-17 (.235) from 3-point range. But that 3-point percentage isn’t bad compared to the rest of the team, which has made just 4 of 41 (.098) in the three losses. Paul’s assist-to-turnover ratio has reversed from his numbers early in the season, as he’s now averaging more turnovers (3.1) than assists (2.9). He committed five turnovers Thursday against Northwestern, and until the last three games, had at least one assists in every game.
Rodney Williams, Minnesota
Williams seems to have been pressing lately. He’s used to getting open looks around the basket, but those have been disappearing. He shot just 4 of 12 Thursday against Michigan, and has fouled out in the last two games — possibly the result of frustration of having to guard bigger guys in the post.
[Playr: Keith Appling], Michigan State
Appling continues to struggle with his shot, going 4-for-17 from the field in two games this past week and 9-for-36 in the past four games overall. He did have nine assists in Sunday’s win against Nebraska, but just two at Penn State on Wednesday. He’s still been a force defensively, though, and the Spartans continue to roll.
Top 5 3-point shooters
Jordan Hulls, Indiana
The senior is a 45.3 percent 3-point shooter, making 216-of-477. This season, he’s been even more successful, making more than 50 percent (42-of-81, .519). That ranks fourth nationally among players who have shot more than 40. But he’s hit just 6-of-15 thus far in four Big Ten games.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan
The freshman burst onto the scene by making 39-of-69 (.565) of his long range shots in non-conference games. In five Big Ten games, he’s hit just 8-of-26 (.307), but still sits at 49.5 percent for the season (47 of 95).
Christian Watford, Indiana
The senior’s shot has improved every year from long range, and he’s hit 26-of-57 this season (.456) to rank third in the conference.He’s 8-for-16 in Big Ten play.
Andre Hollins, Minnesota
Hollins has improved his shooting a lot in year two, making 36-of-84 from deep (.429) after making just 44-of-116 (.379) last year. And he takes nearly two more per game. He’s 12-of-25 so far in five Big Ten games, ranking fourth in overall percentage in the conference.
Dave Sobolewski, Northwestern
Sobolewski, a sophomore, has hit 30-of-72 (.417) from deep thus far, including 6-of-23 (.261) in five Big Ten games. He’s improed from a 35.7 percent mark from last year.
Nebraska set a school record for fewest turnovers in a game — two — and outscored Purdue 18-2 in points off turnovers Wednesday in Lincoln. But the Huskers still found a way to go to 0-5 in the Big Ten, losing 65-56.
Wisconsin’s 64-59 win Tuesday against No. 2 Indiana in Bloomington was the Badgers’ 11th consecutive win over the Hoosiers — the second longest losing streak for Indiana against any opponent. They haven’t lost there since 2007, and are undefeated against coach Tom Crean. Assembly Hall is a building Wisconsin didn’t win in for 25 years (1977-2002).
The Badgers became the first team since 1923 to win five straight games in Bloomington.
Wisconsin limited Indiana’s Cody Zeller to 1-of-7 shooting in the second half after he hit all eight attempts in the first 20 minutes.
Indiana’s 59 points were a season low, but it still ranks first in the nation in points per game at 85.4. They came in averaging 87.1 points per contest.
Indiana had just 59 possessions against Wisconsin, and it came in averaging 70.8.