WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Top-ranked Illinois found itself in
an unfamiliar position heading into halftime at Purdue. The Illini
Dee Brown made sure that didn't last long.
After not taking a single shot in the first half, Brown scored
all 14 of his points in the second half to lead the Illini to a
68-59 victory over Purdue on Saturday.
"I told him to play like you're No. 1," Illinois coach Bruce
Weber said. "I said, 'Somebody has to step up and make plays.' Dee
took it to heart."
He certainly did.
Trailing at halftime for the first time this season, the Illini
opened the second half with a 23-6 run to take control.
Brown hit three 3-pointers during the surge, the last giving
Illinois a 56-45 lead with just over 9 minutes to play. He also
turned up the heat defensively, creating turnovers and
opportunities in transition for the quicker, more talented Illini.
"We're so balanced, I think they forgot about me," Brown said.
"I had no points, no shots, then I started hitting them. In the
second half, they started to play me a little softer and I shot the
Luther Head scored 15 points for Illinois (16-0, 2-0 Big Ten),
which came into the game outscoring opponents by 20.5 points a
game, but this one was no gimme.
Matt Kiefer had 17 points and six rebounds to lead Purdue (4-8,
0-2), which gave Illinois all it could handle for a little more
than a half.
Illinois was uncharacteristically sluggish in the first half,
missing open layups and 3-pointers, getting into foul trouble and
lacking the crisp ball movement on offense that has made the Illini
unbeatable so far this season.
"We were behind on everything," Weber said. "We were the team
on its heels and they were the team on their toes. We haven't been
in this situation for a long, long time."
The Illini trailed for most of the half and were down 39-33 at
halftime to the inspired Boilermakers, who quieted the thousands of
Illinois fans who made the trip to West Lafayette.
Purdue was aggressive from the opening tip after receiving a
tongue-lashing from coach Gene Keady following another lackluster
effort in a loss to Wisconsin on Wednesday.
After that game, Keady openly wondered if he has waited too long
to step aside as coach, suggesting that the team needs new blood
and a new face to take over a team he may have lost.
The Boilermakers showed on Saturday that they are still behind
their beloved coach, who is in his 25th and final season on the
"We have what we call '4-minute wars' at the start of each
half," Keady said. "We started out well, but we've had a tendency
to peter out. We don't have the energy to finish those wars. But
we're making progress."
Kiefer scored 13 points in the first 10 minutes, including an
eye-opening drive and dunk that gave the Boilermakers a 25-19 lead.
He injected some much-needed life into a Purdue fan base that has
grown weary of the team's failures this season.
On their next possession, Kiefer drove the lane and dished to
Carl Landry for a dunk that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
Landry had 10 points and five rebounds in the first half and
finished with 15 points.
"We knew (Purdue) would raise their level of play," said
Weber, who served as an assistant at Purdue under Keady for 18
years. "Dee and Luther really stepped up and made some plays and
all of a sudden they are the ones on their heels and they kind of
reverted to how they've been playing the last few games."
The Illini, who came into the game shooting 51 percent from the
field, shot just 38 percent in the first half while Purdue shot 57
percent. It was just about the reverse in the second half as the
undermanned Boilermakers were overwhelmed by Illinois' depth and
"I think it kind of shocked them the way we played," Keady
said. "It was probably a good wakeup call for them, but hey, the
got the 'W."
Roger Powell had two huge dunks in the second half, including
one off an inbounds play underneath the basket that swung the
momentum back to Illinois. After a layup by Kiefer brought Purdue
within 59-50, Powell converted a three-point play to extend the
"We just came out so fired up, it really didn't matter what
they were doing," Head said. "We knew we were going to get this
Illinois is off to its best start since the 1988-89 team began
the season 17-0. That team won the Big Ten championship and
advanced to the Final Four.
The only other Illinois team to start the season with 16
straight wins was 1914-15, when the Illini won the national