Saturday, February 20, 2010
Hot-shooting Illinois leads Purdue at half
By Brian Bennett
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A solid first-half showing by Illinois at Mackey Arena has raised spirits in East Lansing and Columbus, Ohio.
The Illini hold a 35-32 lead over No. 4 Purdue after shooting 50 percent in the first half. They were 5-of-8 on three-pointers, including Brandon Paul's go-ahead bomb in the waning seconds before intermission.
Purdue, on the other hand, missed nine of its first 11 shots and finished the half at just 27.3 percent. The Boilermakers' normally solid ball movement has given way to too many one-on-one drives, which is why they have only four assists as a team, or seven less than Illini point guard Demetri McCamey has all by himself at this point.
Illinois is double-teaming JaJuan Johnson every time he gets the ball into the paint, and that's thrown Johnson off his game. The junior center -- who had 24 points in Champaign last month -- is 0-for-3 for from the field and has only a pair of free throws to his credit.
Purdue is really only in the game right now because of its 10 offensive rebounds. Leading scorer E'Twaun Moore picked up his second foul with 10 minutes left in the half and remained bolted to the bench until the break.
The outcome so far is similar to teams' first meeting, when Illinois went into the half up 32-28. Purdue surged back to win that game; will history repeat?