An overtime loss set a poor tone for Purdue in Big Ten play, and another one just threw off its rediscovered momentum.
The 12th-ranked Boilermakers hope to avenge the first of those defeats on Sunday and prevent No. 23 Illinois from securing a 10th consecutive home victory.
After finishing second in the conference last season, the Boilermakers (17-5, 6-3) were selected as the preseason favorites to win their first Big Ten title since 1995-96.
However, their conference schedule began with a 71-67 overtime loss to Illinois (18-5, 6-4) at home on Dec. 30. The Illini also upset the Boilermakers in overtime in last season’s Big Ten tournament quarterfinals after losing the previous three meetings.
The Boilermakers followed their most recent loss to Illinois with another surprising defeat, a week later at Penn State, but rebounded to win their next six games. However, that streak came to an end their last time out, falling 80-72 in overtime at Ohio State on Tuesday night despite JaJuan Johnson’s career-high 30 points.
It was just the second time all season Purdue allowed an opponent to reach 80 points and the first time it let the opposition shoot better than 43.1 percent. Ohio State hit 60.4 percent from the field.
“They got in a groove and we flat couldn’t stop them,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team had given up an average of 56.7 points during its six-game win streak.
Illinois is one of only four teams to score more than 70 points against the Boilermakers, as Mike Tisdale led the way with 18 points in the December meeting.
That solid performance away from home was a fairly rare one for Tisdale, who has averaged 8.2 points in true road games this season—5.3 in his last four. However, he’s averaged 16.3 points in his last four games at Assembly Hall to help push Illinois’ home winning streak to nine games—the program’s longest since a 12-game run in 2005-06.
The Illini have limited opponents to an average of 52.0 points on 38.6 percent shooting during this home win streak. They boast one of the best scoring defenses in the nation, conceding a conference-low 56.9 points per game, while Purdue ranks second at 58.5.
The Boilermakers won 83-75 in their game at Champaign last season after losing four of the previous five visits while being held to an average of 59.0 points.
They could be without one of their top offensive players on Sunday. Robbie Hummel, averaging 12.9 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds, missed Tuesday’s game with a hairline fracture in his back. Though he was cleared to play, he never left the bench and his status for Sunday is uncertain.
The Illini, meanwhile, haven’t been sharp on offense lately.
They’ve averaged 49.3 points in losing two of their last three games, and were held to 32.8 percent shooting in Thursday’s 63-50 loss at Wisconsin. Mike Davis had a team-high 14 points and Demetri McCamey added 12, but the remaining three starters combined for 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
“We missed a lot of open shots,” said Illinois coach Bruce Weber, whose next win will be the 250th of his career. “It’s been like that for a while.”
McCamey is averaging 14.0 points in four career games versus Purdue.
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