ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Five Stars Who Shined

Posted by Brendan Brody on December 3rd, 2015

The Big Ten ended up winning the ACC/Big Ten Challenge by a score of 8-6. Coming into Wednesday night tied at four wins each, the B1G notched four more victories to seal the deal. Along the way, there were several noteworthy performances from superstars and role players alike. Here are five stars who stood out over the course of the three-day event. If we think of the 14-game challenge as though it were a tournament, these five would have placed on the All-Tournament team.

Shep Garner was absolutely on fire in Penn State's win over Boston College Wednesday night. (Mark Selders)

Shep Garner was absolutely on fire in Penn State’s win over Boston College Wednesday night. (Mark Selders)

  1. Shep Garner, Penn State (30 points,two steals, 10-of-16 FG, 8-for-12 3FG): Garner came out against Boston College bombing away, as he drilled five three-pointers in the first nine minutes of the game. He ended up with the fourth-highest single-game point total in the Big Ten campaign, scoring a total of 30 of his team’s 67 points on the night. He also did a nice job at the top of the Penn State zone, finishing with two steals and a couple of deflections. All in all, this was definitely the best performance of the young season for the sophomore guard.
  2. Jordan Murphy, Minnesota (24 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks): Murphy notched a career-high in scoring with his 24 points, and he did so in a multitude of ways. He made his only three-point attempt, got to the basket repeatedly, and found some clean-up points on the offensive backboards. The freshman from San Antonio had been a solid player in the Gophers’ lineup up to this point, but this was definitely a breakout performance for the former VCU commitment.
  3. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin (18 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks): Happ looked unsure of himself at times when Syracuse’s zone swallowed him up, committing five turnovers, mostly on traveling calls where he was too hesitant with his footwork. But the freshman center also ended the game with a double-double, and was the main reason why Wisconsin was able to come out of the Carrier Dome with a win despite committing 20 turnovers. The Badgers owned the glass with a +26 rebounding advantage, and Happ’s work inside was the major reason why.
  4. AJ Hammons, Purdue (24 points, 12 rebounds, 10-of-15 FG): This was easily the best game this season from the senior center. Every time Pittsburgh inched closer, Hammons was there to provide a key bucket. Put simply: He was unstoppable in the post; he stepped out and hit two three-pointers; and he controlled the glass. Sophomore center Isaac Haas had been the better option in the post so far this season, but he barely played in this game (nine minutes) because Hammons was so effective.
  5. Denzel Valentine, Michigan State (25 points, seven assists, 8-of-8 FT): In what has so far been a storybook season for Valentine, this wasn’t one of his best games. That said, it shows how good of a season the senior is having if 25 points and seven assists represents an off night.  When Michigan State made their run to overcome Louisville in the second half, Valentine was right in the thick of it. Whether it was finding shooters like Bryn Forbes in the perfect spot or throwing perfect lob passes for dunks, the senior once again willed Sparty to a big win. To top it off, he went 6-of-6 at the free throw line to close out the game in the final minute.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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2 responses to “ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Five Stars Who Shined”

  1. Douglas says:

    All of those players played well but many ACC players played extremely well also. So it’s not really an “all-tournament” team if you fail to include/consider have the competitors.

  2. rtmsf says:

    This is the Big Ten microsite, so its focus is on Big Ten players.

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