WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Kenny Lowe scored 23 points as
Purdue earned a 70-61 win over Illinois (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) on Saturday night to snap a
two-game losing streak.
The Boilermakers (16-6, 8-3 Big Ten) entered the game needing a
victory to remain tied for the conference lead with Wisconsin and
Michigan, both winners Saturday.
Michigan visits Purdue on Wednesday night.
It could be the perfect setting for the Boilermakers (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today), who
improved to 13-0 at home. It was Saturday against the Illini (16-5,
6-4) as Purdue bounced back after two straight losses on the road.
A 3-pointer by Lowe -- who was 13-for-15 from the free-throw line
-- gave Purdue an 11-point lead with 5½ minutes left.
Illinois slowly chipped away, with a layup by Brian Cook and a 3
by Deron Williams cutting the deficit to 56-53. The Illini would
never get closer.
Willie Deane, the Big Ten's third-leading scorer, scored nine of
his 10 points in the final two minutes, mostly from the free-throw
line. With Purdue up by five, Deane stepped in front of a pass from
Sean Harrington and was fouled.
He sank both free throws. Another Illini turnover, they had 19,
led to a three-point play for Deane that sealed the win.
Cook, the conference's leading scorer, had 20 points but no
other player reached double digits.
The Boilermakers led by three early in the second half, when
Brandon McKnight grabbed a defensive rebound and went end-to-end
for a layup that energized Purdue and sparked a 13-3 run.
Lowe was fouled on a jumper and sank the free throw for three
three-point play and a 48-39 lead. He would sink two free throws
with 10½ minutes remaining for a 50-39 lead, Purdue's first
double-digit lead of the game.
After losing games on the road at Minnesota and Northwestern,
Purdue coach Gene Keady decided to shuffle the starting lineup. He
benched McKnight and center Ivan Kartelo for Darmetreis Kilgore and
It backfired immediately. Without McKnight, one of Purdue's
quickest players and a defensive stopper on the perimeter, Illinois
torched Purdue from the outside.
Three quick 3-pointers gave Illinois an 11-2 lead. Kilgore went
to the bench, McKnight came back in and Purdue settled down, going
on a 13-2 run to take the lead. The Boilermakers led 35-32 at the
Despite snow, strong wind and frigid temperatures, Purdue had
its second sellout of the season, though about 2,000 of the 14,123
fans were for Illinois.
No Big Ten team has a winning record on the road.