Teams give fans a good show

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2000

The Associated Press

Minnesota could hit its free throws, Penn State figured out Wisconsin’s valiant defense and Michigan’s freshmen got some upper-class help.

Thursday, January 20, 2000

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Minnesota could hit its free throws, Penn State figured out Wisconsin’s valiant defense and Michigan’s freshmen got some upper-class help.

Those were the story lines on Wednesday when the league’s three ranked teams – Michigan State, Indiana and Ohio State – all had the night off.

Purdue beat Minnesota 74-69, Penn State managed a 76-61 win over Wisconsin and Michigan bombed Northwestern 93-70.

Purdue’s Jaraan Cornell scored a season-high 25 points and had six steals, while Brian Cardinal added 18 for the Boilermakers (12-5, 3-1 Big Ten) at Minneapolis.

”No doubt this was my best game of the season,” said Cornell, who hit eight of 13 shots, including three of seven 3-pointers, to become Purdue’s career 3-point shot leader.

Purdue took a 39-29 lead at halftime and never trailed in the second half.

”I don’t know what to tell you,” said Dan Monson, Minnesota’s first-year coach. ”Lack of experience is hurting us right now, but I don’t know how much experience you need to shoot free throws.”

While Minnesota (10-5, 2-3) was missing most of its free throws, Purdue made 21 of its 29 shots from the charity stripe.

Brandon Smith matched his career high with 15 points as the Wolverines used a balanced attack at Ann Arbor.

Jamal Crawford scored a game-high 20 points, LaVell Blanchard had 14 and Leon Jones and Kevin Gaines added 10 each for Michigan (12-3, 3-1).

Ben Johnson and Steve Lepore scored 15 points each and Jason Burke added 14 for the Wildcats (4-12, 0-4), who have lost seven straight.

Smith, a junior who missed Michigan’s first 10 games recovering from offseason knee surgery, played perhaps his best game in the five since he returned. But his most important asset might be the leadership he provides for freshman starters Crawford, Blanchard and Gaines.

”When you’ve got some guys to anchor freshmen, then these guys don’t play like freshmen,” said Northwestern coach Kevin O’Neill, who also starts three freshmen.

”We don’t have anybody in the junior or senior class to anchor us,” O’Neill said. ”We take a freshman out and put another freshman in.”

At State College, Pa., Joe Crispin scored a career-high 31 points to lead Penn State. Jarrett Stephens added 15 points and 12 rebounds for Penn State (11-5, 3-2) while Jon Crispin and Titus Ivory each added 12 points.

Mark Vershaw had 14 points for Wisconsin (9-8, 1-4) and Jon Bryant added 12.

The Nittany Lions won their third in a row and scored more points then any other team against the Badgers this year. Wisconsin, which leads the Big Ten in scoring defense (56 points by the opposition) gave up its first lost to Penn State in four tries.

In the first half Wisconsin scored the first two points, but Penn State went on an 18-3 run and never looked back.