Illinois’ weaknesses were exposed in a road loss against a mediocre Purdue team last night. The concerning thing isn’t so much that Illinois lost—Purdue isn’t a terrible team, just a terrible offensive team—it’s that it lost to Purdue despite hitting 10 three-pointers (38% from three on the night). Thus, it appears the “Illinois wins when it shoots well” maxim is incorrect. This team can shoot well, and still lose.
There are plays that fans never forget, and D.J. Byrd came up with one in Wednesday’s 68-61 win over Illinois that the Purdue faithful should have no trouble remembering. With 21.5 seconds left, Purdue leading 63-61 and Jacob Lawson at the free-throw line, Byrd corralled a missed freebie, on his knees, and managed to call a timeout before going out of bounds. Watch the play here.
Terone Johnson scored a career-high 25 points and D.J. Byrd spurred a key 19-3 second-half run to send Purdue past No. 14 Illinois 68-61 on Wednesday night. The Boilermakers (7-6, 1-0 Big Ten) are above .500 for the first time this season and have won eight straight over the Fighting Illini.
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And just like that, it’s time for the Big Ten season to tip. It was a highly successful nonconference season, with the Big Ten owning the national polls. We have even more to look forward in the coming months, however, as many feel this could be one of the better conference races in recent history. Check out my All-Big Ten Nonconference Teams in this post.
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Marcus Thornton scored 21 points, but it wasn’t enough to lead William & Mary past Purdue as the Boilermakers won 73-66 on Saturday at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.
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Happy Holidays! I have a “present” for you. It’s my latest Big Ten Power Rankings. So, if you manage to get some free time from all the family and delicious eats, take a moment to see where your team ranks before the conference season tips off.