The Big Ten only had one game on Friday, but it was a massive meeting between Purdue and Illinois. Both teams were ranked in the top 10 and it went down to the final minutes.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Game of the Night:
-No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers 83, No. 9 Illinois Fighting Illini 78
This game didn’t need much build up heading into tip. It featured the two highest regarded Big Ten teams in Mackey Arena on a Friday night. A raucous atmosphere was expected and it seemed reasonable to expect the outcome would have a significant impact on the Big Ten’s regular season title.
The game itself largely lived up to the hype. Purdue jumped out to an early lead, but Illinois stayed close enough to make things interesting. And in the closing minutes, the Illini went on a furious run before just falling short. Trey Kaufman-Renn led the way for Purdue, finishing with 23 points, four rebounds, and two assists. Zach Edey also delivered with 10 points, 15 rebounds, and three assists.
Purdue improved to 14-1 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play with the win. The Boilermakers have now won seven straight since the loss to Northwestern in early December, including three wins against top 10 opponents on KenPom. When you add in the early season success, Purdue already has eight wins against top 60 opponents. That’s an incredible achievement in early January and should set the team up for success in March.
On the other side, Illinois fell to 11-3 overall and 2-1 in Big Ten play with the loss. The team still remains in good position, even despite the loss. After all, there’s no reason to hang your head over losing on the road to the No. 1 team. It’s a tough environment. The key will be getting back on track quickly and not allowing this to become a trend.
The Boilermakers will return to action on Tuesday on the road against Nebraska. The Huskers are a really tough opponent at home, so expect a battle. Illinois will hope to bounce back against Michigan State at home on Thursday. It should be another marquee matchup, particularly with the Spartans starting to hit their stride.