INDIANAPOLIS — Just two days after winning a Big Ten Tournament game by 33 points, the Illini lost a Big Ten Tournament game by 31 points.
Illinois had no answer for an exceptional Purdue team Friday, as the Boilermakers looked the part of a championship contender, throttling Illinois by an 89-58 score.
Purdue dominated in all facets, shooting a stunning 58.3 percent from the field, scoring 34 points in the paint and winning the rebounding battle, 42-24. The Boilers also hit 13 3-pointers.
Meanwhile, the Illini couldn’t get anything going offensively, going long stretches without points and baskets and shooting just 39.3 percent from the field on the day.
The Illini started well and were right with the Boilers until an eight-point surge that featured back-to-back Dakota Mathias 3-pointers grew the Purdue advantage to 10. Illinois fought back and got within four, but Purdue sprinted away from there, outscoring Illinois, 20-4, over the final eight and a half minutes of the half — which featured a 15-0 run — to build a colossal 20-point lead at the break. The Illini went ice cold, going five and a half minutes between made shots and going 2-for-10 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free-throw line over that eight-and-a-half-minute stretch.
The Boilers were firing on all cylinders, playing the lock-down defense and getting the production from its gigantic front court that was expected when it was tabbed in the preseason as one of the conference’s top teams. Seven-footers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas combined for 20 first-half points, with Purdue dominating the boards, 20-11, and scored 22 points in the paint compared to Illinois’ six.
The Boilers shot 62.1 percent in the first half, while the Illini shot just 38.5 percent.
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The onslaught didn’t stop in the second half, either, with Purdue blitzing out of halftime on a lengthy 21-5 run, with Caleb Swanigan scoring nine of those points. In fact, the entire second half was one big run, it seemed, with the Boilers outscoring the Illini, 38-14, before a late 12-0 burst by the Illini accumulated some points.
Hammons, Haas and Swanigan combined for 37 points, with Vince Edwards scoring 14 points and Mathias adding 11.
Maverick Morgan led Illinois with 17 points, Malcolm Hill had 16 points and Kendrick Nunn scored 13 points. The rest of the team managed just 12 points on 5-for-21 shooting.
The loss likely ends Illinois’ season, as it’s not expected to make any postseason tournaments and certainly won’t receive an invite to the NCAA tournament. The Illini finished with a 15-19 record, going 7-14 against Big Ten opponents. Illinois will miss the Big Dance for the third consecutive season, the first time that’s happened since 1980.
Purdue, meanwhile, advances to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, where it will take a 25-7 overall record and a 13-6 mark against Big Ten foes into a Saturday game against Michigan, which scored an improbable win over top-seeded Indiana on Friday.