No. 5 Purdue fends off second-half Illinois rally for 76-71 win

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Brandon Newman scored a season-high 19 points, Zach Eady added 17 and No. 5 Purdue…

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Brandon Newman scored a season-high 19 points, Zach Eady added 17 and No. 5 Purdue beat Illinois 76-71 on Sunday to become the first Big Ten team since 2014 to win the title champion after three or more games.

The Boilermakers (26-5, 15-5) led by 24 early in the second half before the Illini rallied to eventually tie the game at 67 on Matthew Mayer’s free throw with 1:17 left. Eddy’s layup gave Purdue a 69-67 lead with 56 seconds left and Illinois turned the ball over with 31 seconds left.

Purdue’s Fletcher Loyer made two free throws to extend the lead to 71-67 after an immediate foul. Meyer missed a 3-pointer and Newman made two free throws to extend the lead to 73-67. Luke Hood hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 74-71 with 7 seconds left, but Newman made two free throws to extend the lead.

“It’s been tough for me, there’s been a lot of ups and downs,” said Newman, who averaged 5.6 points early in the game and 15 points in the first half. “I just want to help my teammates win games. I was able to get some open views from the post submission.”

Painter said Newman has earned more minutes recently with his defensive play.

“When he plays with that kind of effort and energy on defense, you’re going to stay in the game,” Painter said. “If you stay in the game, he’s a good enough offensive player, he’ll make shots. He took what the defense gave him.”

Brayden Smith added 15 points for the Boilermakers. Eday, who entered the game with 23 double-doubles, finished with six rebounds and played just eight minutes in the first half after picking up two fouls.

“It was huge because we had the lead without Zach,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.

The Boilermakers led 47-26 at the half on 62% shooting, but dropped to just 29% in the second half.

“That’s kind of been our story,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “It’s a difficult first half. We gave them live turnovers, we didn’t execute. It was our inability to execute on the offensive side early that was really problematic.”

Meier led the Illini (20-11, 11-9) with 16 points, followed by Terence Shannon Jr. with 13, Senseire Harris with 11 and Hood with 10. Underwood said the team missed freshman guard Jayden Epps, who is out with a concussion.

Underwood said of the second half that his team “settled down and looked like a really good basketball team and made them guard us.”


Illinois: The Illini won three of their next four games, but struggled in the first half with passing and shooting. However, the Illini showed some fight.

Purdue: After losing four of six games, the Boilermakers have regained some momentum by winning two straight. Purdue allowed the Illini to get back into the game with costly losses.


Purdue junior guard Ethan Morton said Painter was unlucky in the NCAA tournament.

“Eventually the water will find its level and he will succeed,” Morton said. “I hope that’s why we’re here. We got that first (title) … We want to take it to the Final Four. I think he deserves it more than anyone in the world who is coaching.”


With wins over Wisconsin and Illinois, Purdue should stay in the top 5 heading into the Big Ten Tournament.


Illinois: Pending seeding for the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.

Purdue: As the No. 1 seed, the Boilermakers will play the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game Friday in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.


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