Purdue (12-12) at Illinois (17-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 13, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Assembly Hall (16,618) -- Champaign, Illinois. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Purdue 9-5, Illinois 9-4. Away Record: Purdue 3-4, Illinois 4-3. Neutral Record: Purdue 0-3, Illinois 4-1. Conference Record: Purdue 5-6, Illinois 4-7. Series Record: Purdue leads, 96-84.
GAME NOTES: Fresh off winning a pair of games over nationally-ranked foes last week, the Illinois Fighting Illini will try to keep the momentum going on Wednesday night when they host the Purdue Boilermakers in a Big Ten Conference showdown at Assembly Hall.
Purdue has been about as mediocre as you can be this season, sitting with a 12-12 overall record and a 5-6 mark in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers have been slipping in recent weeks however, as they have lost three of their last four games, most recently dropping a home matchup with first-place Michigan State on Saturday, 78-65.
Illinois started the season red-hot at 12-0, but promptly fell from the national spotlight by losing eight of its next 11 games. The Illini have catapulted back onto the scene however following their thrilling 74-72 win over No. 1 Indiana last Wednesday. They followed that up with another outstanding win, defeating Minnesota on the road on Sunday, 57-53, to improve to 17-8 overall and 4-7 in the Big Ten.
Purdue has won eight straight games over Illinois, including a 68-61 triumph in West Lafayette on Jan. 2, to move to 96-84 in the all-time series.
Purdue actually pieced together an impressive offensive performance in its latest game against a very good defensive-minded Spartans squad, making nearly 48 percent of its field goal attempts while shooting 22-of-34 from the foul line. Its only issue was it couldn't slow down MSU from the field (.491) as it was saddled with the 13-point loss. Terone Johnson scored 20 points in the setback, Ronnie Johnson tallied 15 points and eight assists, and A.J. Hammons had 13 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals. On the season, the Boilermakers have been impressive on defense, holding foes under 40 percent shooting for just 63.7 ppg, but they oftentimes can't muster up enough points themselves to take advantage (65.2 ppg). Terone Johnson scores 12.7 ppg to lead the team, while Hammons is having a strong freshman campaign with 11.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 2.1 bpg. Ronnie Johnson (9.8 ppg, 3.8 apg) and D.J. Byrd (9.5 ppg) are also regular contributors.
The Illini were far from their best against Minnesota on Sunday, shooting less than 37 percent from the field, but the defense stepped up by holding the Golden Gophers to only 19-of-50 from the floor (.380), and they won the turnover battle (13-7) as well. Despite the general shooting struggles, Illinois was great from 3-point range (11-of-23), with Tyler Griffey making four of those long-range buckets on his way to 16 points. D.J. Richardson netted 13 points, and Brandon Paul added 10 points, albeit on just 3-of-10 from the field. Illinois is usually much more effective in putting points on the board (71.6 ppg), but its field goal percentage (.428) and 3-point percentage (.336) rank near the bottom of the conference. Paul has been an outstanding scorer out on the perimeter with 17.3 ppg, but he has racked up more turnovers (76) than assists (71). Richardson (12.3 ppg) and Tracy Abrams (10.7 ppg, 3.4 apg) are also crucial components for a team that relies heavily on its guard play.
Illinois has proven itself as a legitimate contender in the tough Big Ten, and its return home should be a successful one against an up-and-down Purdue squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Illinois 67, Purdue 64
02/13 10:34:39 ET