Player of the Week
Draymond Green, Michigan State
The Big Ten’s leading rebounder has continued to dominate the glass, putting up back-to-back double-doubles in two wins the past week. He had 14 points, 16 rebounds and four assists in a 64-54 win Sunday vs. Michigan. He followed that up by recording 23 points, 12 rebounds and five assists Wednesday in a 77-57 victory over Penn State. He’s rebounded nicely after a subpar five points and eight rebounds Jan. 31 in a 42-41 loss at Illinois.
Green had 12 points and 9 boards in Michigan State’s big upset win over Ohio State on Saturday. He’s the Spartans most indispensable player and the news that he had not hurt his knee after what looked like a potential season ending injury was music to the ears of Spartan fans.
William Buford, Ohio State
Prior to his 2-12 stinker against Michigan St., Buford was having on of the best weeks of any player in the Conference. The Buckeyes needed more from their senior leader, and he responded in a big way down the stretch against Purdue on Tuesday night. He finished with 29 points and seven rebounds, including nine points in the final 5 minutes to give the Buckeyes the lead for good after the Boilermakers looked like they could steal one at Value City Arena. Instead, Ohio State continued its home dominance, winning its 39th straight against the team that last beat them there, in 2010. Buford’s clutch performance ensured that, as he buried several step-back jumpers from the top of the key, a 3-pointer and a dunk in crunch time.
Buford hadn’t reached the 20-point mark since Dec. 28 against Northwestern (28) and hadn’t scored more than 15 since. He had shot just 9-of-28 in the Buckeyes’ previous two games before Tuesday, and had turned the ball over nine times. He didn’t have a single turnover against the Boilermakers as the Buckeyes won their sixth straight game to stay atop the Big Ten standings heading into a huge matchup against second-place Michigan State on Saturday.
D.J. Byrd, Purdue
The 6-foot-5 junior from Crawfordsville, Ind., exploded for a career-high 24 points Tuesday at Ohio State, hitting 7-of-9 from long range and single-handily keeping the Boilermakers in the game. Purdue, the last team to beat Ohio State on its home floor, scored the most points at Value City Arena during the Buckeyes’ 39-game streak but came up short when William Buford took over down the stretch. Over Byrd’s last three games, he’s averaged 17 points per game — more than 10 more than his 5.7 per game average coming in — and has hit double digits in each one. Before this stretch Byrd had scored in double figures in just five other games this season. He’s hit 12 of his past 20 3-pointers.
Branden Dawson, Michigan State
The 6-6 freshman from Gary, Ind., is starting to get it. The high-flying forward has scored in double figures in five straight games following a streak of six in a row in which he didn’t reach 10. In that five-game span, Dawson is averaging 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds while shooting 61.8 percent in an average of 23.8 minutes per game. During the single-digit string, he averaged just 5.8 points, 3.3 rebounds in 18.8 minutes. Lots of his opportunities come on the fast break, where he can adjust to the ball in the air and either slam it home or lay it in for two.
Zack Novak, Michigan
The Wolverines’ senior leader has averaged 13.7 ppg in the past three games, with five steals and 10 rebounds. Has hit 14-of-23 shots (60.9 percent), including 8-of-14 from 3 (57.1 percent). This came after a pair of games when he scored five points Jan. 24 at Purdue and no points Jan. 29 at Ohio State. This season, he’s averaging 9.6 points per game and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 50.9 percent, by far a career best. His next closest was his sophomore year, when he hit 37.4 percent. Novak went over 1,000 points Wednesday at Nebraska, becoming the school’s 45th member of that group.
Dave Sobolewski, Northwestern
The Wildcats’ freshman point guard has scored in double figures in three straight games, all Northwestern wins. He’s 15-of-25 from the field in that span and has averaged 4.6 assists per game as well. He’s 8-of-15 from long range, too. Against Iowa on Thursday, he shot 7-of-8 from the field and posted seven assists.
Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
The sophomore posted his first back-to-back, single-digit scoring games of the year this past week at Michigan State (four points) and at Nebraska (six points). He shot just 4-of-21 (19 percent) in those games and is just 13-of-47 (27.7 percent) in the past four. The Wolverines (18-7, 8-4 Big Ten) are now 3-4 in games when Hardaway scores less than 10 points. He’s shooting just 25.9 percent from 3-point range this season, down 10.8 percent from last season, and his overall field goal percentage is down 1.3 percent at 40.7.
Sam Maniscalco, Illinois
The senior guard simply has not been the same player after he went down with a left ankle injury. He’s scored just three points in five games after missing three, and hasn’t done much of anything else, either (seven assists, five rebounds).
Top 5 NBA rookies/sophomores from the Big Ten
The conference boasts 36 straight drafts with a player selected in the first round. A look how recent guys are faring in the NBA:
Evan Turner, Philadelphia
The second overall pick in the 2010 draft out of Ohio State, Turner has turned up the scoring a bit in year two after averaging 7.2 points per game as a rookie. In 25 games as of Thursday, Turner was averaging 9.4 points per contest, and his assists, rebounds, and field goal percentage were up as well. Most notable for the 6-7 guard is his rebounding, which has jumped by 1.7 per game to since year one to 5.6 per outing. He’s averaging 25.3 minutes off the bench this season compared to 23.0 as a rookie. He’s shooting 46.7 percent from the field but just 5-of-22 (22.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
JaJuan Johnson, Boston
He was picked 27th overall by the Nets, then traded to Boston. He had trouble early on, but has adjusted pretty well in February, going for 11 points Feb. 1 against Toronto and 10 Feb. 5 against Memphis. He shot 10-for-13 in those two games. For the season, he’s averaging 3.2 points, 1.0 rebound and is shooting 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) from the field.
Jon Leuer, Milwaukee
He was picked 40th overall in the second round by Milwaukee. He’s had several good games. The 6-10 big man out of Wisconsin is averaging 5.4 points, three rebounds while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor in 13.9 minutes per game.
Darius Morris, L.A. Lakers
He didn’t enter game until the Lakers’ 12th one of the season at Utah. He’s filled in a little bit for Steve Blake as backup point guard in January, but has not played much as of late, scoring just eight points in the past seven games while averaging about a minute in those contests. For the season he’s averaging 3.3 points, 1.2 assists and 1.2 rebounds per game. He’s 12-of-24 from the field. His season high came Jan. 14 against the Clippers, when he scored seven points and had four assists.
E’Twaun Moore, Boston
Was drafted 55th overall by Boston in the second round. The 6-4 guard has shown flashes, going for a season-high 16 points while making 5-of-6 field goals and 4-of-4 from 3-point range Jan. 26 in a win against Orlando. He also had three rebounds and a block in that game. That’s really the only time he’s approached double figures besides an eight-point performance Feb. 1 against Toronto. For the season, he’s averaging 3.2 points, 10.3 minutes, 1.1 assists, shooting 24-of-65 (36.9 percent) from the field, including 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) from long range.
Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor put up 27 points in Thursday’s overtime win at Minnesota but recorded zero assists for the fourth time since his freshman season. It was the second time this season Taylor hasn’t assisted on a basket. The other came Jan. 15 in a win against Nebraska. Josh Gasser and Mike Bruesewitz led the Badgers with four apiece. Wisconsin made just 19 baskets in the 68-61 victory. The difference in the game came at the free-throw line, where the Badgers hit 21-of-25 (84 percent). They’re fourth in the Big Ten at 72.1 percent this season, behind Nebraska, Indiana and Iowa.