On the court, Georgia Tech and Clemson staged a barnburner in Atlanta, and the Yellow Jackets survived 66-64. It was impressive for Tech, because guard Iman Shumpert, who just finished hanging 30 on Carolina, was held completely in check. Tonight, the Jackets showed they could do it inside, getting a combined 33 points and 24 rebounds from Derrick Favors and Ganai Lawal. Clemson’s Trevor Booker was tough, but he didn’t get enough help on the interior and Tech’s 48-40 rebounding advantage was the key statistical difference.
Tennessee continued its strong SEC start (now 3-0), as they beat Alabama 63-56. This is another case of a team showing strength from an unexpected area. Wayne Chism had a ho-hum game, but forward Kenny Hall came off the bench to deliver a double-double. Alabama’s backcourt was awful, its starters producing only three points combined.
And Purdue got back on track with a win over Illinois. Just as JaJuan Johnson’s disappearing act was the principal cause of their three-game losing streak, his return was the key to the win. He had 24 points and 12 rebounds. His 12-15 from the free throw line was the primary part of the area where Purdue enjoyed a solid advantage. Illinois is now 4-2 in the Big Ten, with losses here and to Michigan State. As expected, their fast start was proven to be more due to the schedule than to a new contender emerging. They are still a decent team with a good shot at an NCAA Tournament run.