No. 5 Purdue holds on to defeat Illinois

no.-5-purdue-holds-on-to-defeat-illinois

Brandon Newman scored 19 points, added six rebounds and five assists, and made four clutch free throws down the stretch to lead host Purdue to a 76-71 victory over Illinois on Sunday afternoon at West Lafayette, Ind.

The fifth-ranked Boilermakers (26-5, 15-5 Big Ten) finished the regular season with back-to-back wins as they enter the upcoming Big Ten tournament as the No. 1 seed, hoping to lock up the same seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Illinois (20-11, 11-9 Big Ten), which entered the game being projected as a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, dropped two of its final three and was left to await the results of other conference games on the final day of the regular season to learn its seed in the conference tournament.

Fletcher Loyer also hit a pair of free throws and Braden Smith made one in the final 31 seconds to help put the game out of reach.

Purdue got a solid performance from its guards overall in a game where it did not need to lean on star center Zach Edey as much. Edey still finished with 17 points and six rebounds.

Matthew Mayer had 16 points and six rebounds to lead Illinois, but he was 1 for 10 from 3-point range, missing a three inside the final 30 seconds that could have pulled the Illini within a point.

The Boilermakers appeared to take control of the game with a 17-3 surge just before halftime that came with Edey on the bench. Purdue went into the locker room up 47-26.

But Illinois clawed its way back in the second half, cutting the deficit to 65-63 with 2:50 remaining on a layup by Mayer. After Edey hit a pair of free throws, Terrence Shannon Jr. hit a 3-pointer to pull the Illini within a point with 2:08 to go.

Edey’s layup with 57.2 seconds remaining put Purdue back in front 69-67 and started a 6-0 run to put the Boilermakers ahead for good.

–Field Level Media

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