No. 1 and No. 2 pass tests

UConn outlasts Providence, while Purdue escapes Northwestern. Kentucky? It wasn't as lucky at home. Plus, the latest Twitter debate: Is the Big 12 gaming the system?

Good morning. We’ve hit that point of the season where whistles are part of the game.

Let's get to it.

1. UConn, Purdue survive midweek exams

When the shots aren’t falling and your big man gets into foul trouble, what do you do?

If you’re No. 1 UConn, you get tough, and grind it out.

For the third time in its last four games, the Huskies struggled to hit shots, but behind freshman Stephon Castle (a career-high 20 points), some free throws and a few timely defensive plays, they held court against Providence for a 74-65 win on Wednesday night.

“These are steel cage matches,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. "Based on how physical the game is, they could have called another 50 fouls.”

Hurley’s a terrific quote, but this wasn’t an exaggeration. Six players had four fouls with five minutes to play. Castle, Josh Oduro, Jayden Pierre and Rafael Castro all fouled out (after two early fouls, Donovan Clingan finished with four).

UConn (19-2, 9-1 in Big East) won its ninth straight and stretched its league lead to two games despite shooting just 40% from the field. But it held Providence (14-7, 5-5) to 41.4% and also blocked five Friars shots. It’s the type of game that UConn might lost during league play last season. Not this year.

No. 2 Purdue didn’t have the same issues scoring in its 105-96 overtime win over Northwestern. Heck, it was at the free-throw line so much, it couldn’t help but score.

As one can imagine, being whistled for fouls all the time wore on Northwestern, which got another great game from Purdue nemesis Boo Buie (25 points). But when the final moments of OT arrived, Collins seemingly had enough.

“I'm not going to go into the officiating. We have great officiating,” Collins said. “I just don't know if I've ever seen a box score like that.”

That box score — 31 total fouls on Northwestern, 15 on Purdue; 46 free throws for Purdue, 8 for Northwestern — was eye-opening, as was the no-call in the final seconds. However …

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