Purdue picked up their biggest win of the season, on a national stage and are now tied for first place in the Big Ten after an 84-68 win over Illinois at home.
The Boilermakers have some great wins on the season, but a regular season sweep of this Illini team is something special. Illinois had beaten Purdue in three consecutive games coming into this season, but the Boilermakers changed their fortunes in 2022.
You cannot talk about this game without giving Jaden Ivey the recognition he deserves. The Boilermakers’ superstar dropped 22 of his game-high 26 in the second half to guide Purdue to a 16 point win. He also shot it very efficiently, connecting on a 75% clip in the second half, and led the team in assists with six. It was all Ivey, down the stretch as Matt Painter allowed the future lottery pick to slash the Illinois defense however he wanted.
His use of the high ball screen to get to the basket and score in different ways is giving this already potent offense another boost when they need it. Ivey has taken the Big Ten by storm, but what he has shown of late should be terrifying to the rest of the Big Ten and the country.
Before the point, Purdue was having a tough time getting going in the first half which allowed Illinois to set the tempo from the jump. The Boilers seemed a little too juiced up, making uncharacteristic turnovers and then failing to get back on defense. In the opening 10 minutes or so of the first half, Illinois scored 10 points off of 5 turnovers. The Boilermakers then turned it over 4 times the rest of the game and ended up having the exact same amount of turnovers and points off turnovers as the Illini.
Another part of the game the Boilers struggled in was three-point shooting to begin the game, whereas Illinois came out flaming hot. Purdue missed their first 6 from behind the arc before Ethan Morton connected on one that opened everything up for the offense. From that point forward, Purdue shot the ball at a 9-16 clip which was what energized this team most.
That Ethan Morton three led to a 19-3 Boilermaker run in the latter stage of the second half. Morton, Gillis, and Furst were what kept Purdue in the game throughout the first half with Ivey, Edey, and Stefanovic either getting in foul trouble or not being able to get much going offensively. Those three combined for 16 points on 5-7 shooting, which included four three-pointers. That line alone just speaks to the depth and unselfishness that Purdue holds in this squad.
After Illinois stormed back to take the lead at halftime, it looked like tonight could have been another triple-overtime thriller like the last matchup in Champaign. Apparently, Eric Hunter Jr wanted no business in that as he stormed out of the gates to score 9 of Purdue’s first 16 points in the half, which set the tone for the rest of the night. Hunter knows his role and fits it perfectly, but when his team needed scoring he delivered and then some.
One of the biggest critiques of late for Purdue is their inability to put teams away when they have them on the ropes. Tonight switched up that narrative. Illinois was able to hit shots down the stretch, but it was no match for the insane output of the Boilermakers and Ivey. This issue isn’t an overnight fix, but Purdue took a huge step in moving things in the right direction with this win.
Purdue now stands atop the leaderboard in the Big Ten alongside Illinois and Wisconsin who beat Michigan State earlier tonight at 10-3 during conference play. This wasn’t seen to be a very likely outcome this early with a 1-2 start to the Big Ten slate, but Purdue has been on a roll recently to storm back up the standings. There are still a few very tough tests, but the Boilermakers are in the driver’s seat with less than a month to play.
Those tests will pick up on Thursday when they travel to Ann Arbor and take on Michigan in a rematch of their win this past Saturday. As Rapheal Davis says on what feels like a nightly basis, life on the road in the Big Ten is tough, but Purdue has the formula to knock off the Wolverines on their home court. That game will be Thursday at 9:00 p.m. and be televised on ESPN. Purdue will enjoy this win tonight, but it’s back to work for the Boilers tomorrow morning!