Northwestern 67, Purdue 61
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP)—Vedran Vukusic scored 21 points and Northwestern built a big lead before holding off a furious second-half rally to beat struggling Purdue 67-61 Saturday.
Purdue (5-15, 1-8 Big Ten), which fought its way back from a 20-point deficit in the second half, lost for the ninth time in 10 games and still doesn’t have a road win in Gene Keady’s 25th and final season as coach.
Carl Landry, the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 19 points per game, led Purdue with 12.
T.J. Parker chipped in 18 for Northwestern, which was 22-of-26 from the line compared to only 3-for-5 for the Boilermakers.
Northwestern (10-11 3-6) raced to an 11-0 lead in the first four minutes when the Boilermakers had three turnovers and shot an air ball.
Purdue regrouped and got within four before Northwestern closed the first half on a 14-4 run that featured eight straight points from Tim Doyle for a 32-18 halftime lead.
The Boilermakers had 14 first-half turnovers—which Northwestern converted for 16 points.
Vukusic sparked a 10-0 run with two baskets and a 3-pointer to put the Wildcats up 44-24 with six minutes gone in the second half. But Purdue mounted an impressive comeback, showing the grit and determination that characterized Keady teams over the years.
Brandon McKnight’s three-point play and a jumper by David Teague with five minutes to go highlighted an 11-0 Purdue run that cut the lead to 53-48.
After two free throws by Vukusic, Purdue’s Chris Hartley hit a 3-pointer and it was 55-51. Landry and McKnight made baskets after three Northwestern free throws to make it 58-55 with just over two minutes to go.
But Vukusic then drove for a basket and saved a ball from going out of bounds before Northwestern’s Mohamed Hachad scored on another drive, extending the lead back to seven with just over a minute left.
Parker dropped in two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to seal the win.
Both head coaches and their staffs wore sneakers for Coaches vs. Cancer National Awareness weekend. Most sported white shoes but Keady had on a fashionable pair of black ones with a yellow design.
The retiring coach was presented with a cigar humidor and got a standing ovation in a pre-game ceremony.
Keady was returning after missing the previous game, a loss at Ohio State, with the flu—the first game he’d missed in 47 years of coaching at all levels.