No. 16 Purdue holds off Northwestern, 69-65
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(AP) With a regular-season Big Ten championship already locked up, Purdue wanted to send a few more positive notes to the NCAA Selection Committee.
Vincent Edwards scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half and Caleb Swanigan added 20 points and 14 rebounds to help No. 16 Purdue beat Northwestern 69-65 on Sunday.
Purdue (25-6, 14-4 Big Ten) clinched the outright regular-season conference title earlier in the week, but had to hold on in the final seconds to fend off Northwestern (21-10, 10-8) in front of a raucous sellout crowd.
Bryant McIntosh had 25 points and six assists for Northwestern. The Wildcats have lost six of nine.
“A lot of people wanted to downplay that we didn’t have a lot to play for. But anytime you get a chance to play an NCAA Tournament team on the road and get that kind of victory it is going to help your NCAA resume,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
Swanigan had his nation-leading 25th double-double.
Swanigan’s dunk gave Purdue a 59-50 lead with seven minutes remaining, but the Wildcats answered with a 7-0 run. Sanjay Lumpkin’s putback got Northwestern to 60-59 with 3:14 left, but the Wildcats could never get ahead in the second half. Trailing 66-63, Nathan Taphorn shot an airball on a 3 with 15 seconds left and Purdue closed the game by going 3 of 4 from the foul line.
“It is very important. They are an NCAA Tournament team more than likely and going into the Big Ten Tournament we could face three NCAA Tournament teams in a row, so we want to beat those teams and add them to our resume and help us when it comes to tournament time,” said Swanigan.
Edwards has been able to exploit the Wildcats’ defense. Earlier in the season, he scored 17 points against the `Cats.
“The four is their help guy. He doubles a lot, he helps a lot. We just wanted to get the ball inside as much as possible, but knowing they were going to take a lot of that away and we thought Vince would be open and we can capitalize on it,” said Painter. “It was one of his best games and for the moment.”
Dererk Pardon’s winning shot against Michigan on Wednesday night put Northwestern on the cusp of its first NCAA Tournament bid in the program’s history.
“We don’t take anything for granted, we don’t feel our ticket is punched until we see it on Sunday,” McIntosh said. “Right now we just have to focus and go try to win a Big Ten championship, we get another crack at it.”
In an earlier matchup, Purdue beat Northwestern 80-59 on Feb. 1 in West Lafayette. The Wildcats were missing Scottie Lindsey and Taphorn.
Northwestern, who has been featured nationally this week after the thrilling win on Wednesday, played in front of a nationally televised CBS audience for the first time since Feb. 5, 2011.
Lumpkin finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, and Pardon added 11 points.
Dakota Mathias scored 13 points and provided great defense on Vic Law.
Before the game, Northwestern honored seniors Lumpkin and Taphorn, who threw the full-court pass to set up Pardon’s buzzer-beater Wednesday.
Purdue: The Boilermakers continue to build a good NCAA resume going into postseason play by winning 8 of its last nine games.
Northwestern: With the Wildcats’ recent slide, an NCAA bid might not be a sure thing if they lose in their second round Big Ten Tournament game.
Law continued to struggle against Mathias. In the first meeting he was 0-for-7 shooting for one point, on Sunday, he was 2-for-13 for four points. “We do a good job of knowing their sets, when he is going to get the ball, where he is going to get it, so I try to knock him out of that stuff and make it tough for him,” said Mathias. Law came into the game averaging 12.7 points per game.
As the regular season comes to a conclusion it is more about impressing the committee as oppose to the pollsters. Edwards said Painter challenged him and his teammates. “Coach Painter preached about adding to our NCAA resume, of course we clinched a championship, but he told us, how would play if you had to play for a share, or if you had to win it outright, how would you play, what would your competitive nature be like and I think that really stuck with our guys in the huddle and when we came out we were ready to go,” Edwards said.
As the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament, Purdue bypasses to the quarterfinals and plays Friday. Northwestern gets a bye and will play in the second round Thursday.