WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Jaden Ivey scored 26 points and Eric Hunter Jr. scored his nine points in a key run to start the second half Tuesday night, leading No. 3 Purdue past No. 13 Illinois 84- 68 .
The Boilermakers (21-3, 10-3 Big Ten) have won six straight and nine of 10 to take a share of the league lead.
Illinois (17-6, 10-3) was led by Kofi Cockburn, who had 18 points and seven rebounds. Andre Curbelo added 15 points as Fighting Illini rode a four-game winning streak.
The hype for this game started almost as soon as the final buzzer sounded in Purdue’s double overtime win last month and took on even more urgency when conference officials moved the game up two days by compared to the original schedule for a matchup between the conference contenders.
The rematch did not disappoint.
A loud, early-arriving crowd kept the decibel level high all night – especially as the Boilermakers started to pull away midway through the second half. But it also energized Purdue, which got off to a slow start and endured a series of back-and-forths.
But after Curbelo went the length of the floor for a buzzer-beating layup to give Illinois a 38-36 halftime lead, Hunter opened the second half with nine points on a a 16-8 surge that put Purdue up 52-46 and whipped the crowd. in a frenzy. The Boilermakers never trailed again and sealed victory with a 14-2 run.
Illinois: Tuesday’s loss is not debilitating. The Illini are tied with Purdue and No. 14 Wisconsin atop the Big Ten. But it certainly makes the championship course more difficult, especially after being swept away by the Boilermakers. Expect Illinois to bounce back quickly and impressively.
Purdue: The Boilermakers have been the top-ranked team in the Big Ten for most of the season Now, after starting 1-2 in the conference, they finally have a share of the league lead. Purdue is 98-11 in its last 109 home games and this time did it with the kind of balanced offense it will need to make a deep run of the NCAA Tournament.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE SURVEY
With No. 1 Auburn losing Tuesday night and the Boilermakers with two more chances to impress voters this week, against Michigan and Maryland, Purdue could be in a position to claim the top spot for the second time this season — and second. times in the school’s history. The loss shouldn’t hurt Illinois too much.
Illini guard Trent Frazier had the biggest scare of the night when he fell to the ground clutching his left knee with 8:15 remaining. Replays appeared to show his knee and Ivey’s knee collided. Frazier needed help getting off the bench, but came back shortly after and finished the game.
Illinois: Hosts in-state rival Northwestern on Sunday.
Purdue: Travel to Michigan on Thursday for a rescheduled game.
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