Purdue has been almost perfect at home, losing only once to a non-conference opponent. A win this weekend, though, would give the team its first undefeated home record in Big Ten play in 20 years.
The 16th-ranked Boilermakers seek to close out conference play at Mackey Arena without a loss as they host last-place Northwestern on Saturday.
Purdue (22-6, 13-2) has just two losses in 33 overall games at home since the start of last season, and is 15-1 at Mackey Arena in 2007-08. The lone defeat came against the Southern Conference’s Wofford, 69-66, on Dec. 19.
The Boilermakers, though, have 12 consecutive Big Ten home victories dating to Feb. 2007, eight coming this season. They haven’t gone undefeated against conference foes at Mackey Arena since they went 9-0 en route to the 1988 conference title.
They might be able to reach that goal if they can build off a 65-53 victory over Minnesota on Wednesday. It came after a 77-68 defeat at then-No. 15 Indiana that ended their 11-game winning streak.
“Coming off of the loss, we knew that we had to want it (Wednesday), and we knew that we were going to have to put it all together,” said freshman guard E’Twaun Moore, who scored a team-high 22 points.
Fellow freshman Robbie Hummel added 12 and eight rebounds, while reserve Keaton Grant scored 11 points for the Boilermakers, who won despite shooting just 40 percent and getting outrebounded 43-29.
“We were a little rusty,” said Grant, a regular starter who didn’t practice earlier this week because of the flu. “We had a week off, we wasn’t moving. We were standing still the majority of the time. Once we got into the flow of the game and once we stopped standing, then we was cool.”
Purdue—off to its best start since going 23-6 to begin 1997-98—hasn’t won a Big Ten title since 1996, but is tied for second with No. 12 Indiana, just one-half game behind 10th-ranked Wisconsin.
“We play to win,” Grant said. “If other teams in the conference lose that’s good for us. But we are going to have to win every game to win the Big Ten.”
Purdue can start by beating Northwestern (8-18, 1-14) for a fourth straight time overall, and for the eighth time in 10 meetings at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers, who won both games against Northwestern last season, most recently beat the Wildcats, 71-56, on Feb. 16.
They hope to sweep the series in consecutive years for the first time since doing so in 2000-01.
Northwestern is coming off a 62-60 victory at Michigan on Tuesday that ended a 19-game conference losing streak and a seven-game skid overall.
Guard Craig Moore made a school-record eight 3-pointers, including a go-ahead one with a minute left, to give Northwestern its first Big Ten win since defeating Penn State on Feb. 10, 2007.
Moore finished with 25 points, Kevin Coble added 16 and Ivan Peljusic 13 for the Wildcats, who haven’t won consecutive games since a four-game run from Dec. 1-20.
Northwestern, which is just 3-9 on the road this season, is 12-66 all-time at Purdue.