Boilermakers Survive Scare from No. 9 Illinois Behind Kaufman-Renn’s Career Night
The No. 1 Purdue Boilermakers survived a major scare at home on Friday night, fending off a furious second-half comeback attempt from the No. 9 Illinois Fighting Illini to escape with an 83-78 victory.
Led by a career-high 23 points from sophomore forward Trey Kaufman-Renn, Purdue improved to 14-1 overall and 3-1 in Big Ten play. The win extended their school-record winning streak to 13 games.
“That was a great college basketball game between two really good teams,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “We feel fortunate to come away with the win tonight.”
Illini Erase 16-Point Halftime Deficit Behind Domask, Shannon
Illinois refused to go away despite trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half. Senior guard Terrence Shannon Jr. caught fire after halftime, scoring 14 of his team-high 19 points to spearhead the comeback attempt. Big man Marcus Domask added 18 points.
“I loved how our guys competed and battled all night,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “We dug ourselves too big of a hole in the first half.”
The Illini opened the second half on a 15-4 blitz, closing to within 47-44 with 15:38 left. Shannon scored seven quick points during the run.
Domask later converted a three-point play to make it 59-58 in favor of Purdue with 8:34 remaining, capping a furious 31-12 surge for Illinois.
Purdue Barely Hangs On Down the Stretch
The Boilermakers needed big plays in the final minutes from Kaufman-Renn and junior guard Braden Smith to stave off the rally.
Kaufman-Renn knocked down a critical three-pointer from the corner with 3:24 left to push the lead to 75-70. Smith then drove for a contested layup on the next possession.
After Shannon missed a good look at a three-pointer that would have made it 77-75, Smith calmly sank two free throws with 24 seconds remaining to make it 81-76.
“We showed some immaturity and took some bad shots down the stretch when we were back in the game,” Underwood said. “You can’t do that against a championship-level team like Purdue.”
Purdue shot 50% from the field and went 6-of-14 (42.9%) from three-point range. The Boilermakers also held a 35-30 edge on the glass despite star center Zach Edey battling foul trouble. He finished with 11 points and eight rebounds in just 22 minutes.
Edey Limited by Whistles
The 7-foot-4 Edey picked up two fouls in the first four minutes. He then committed his third foul less than two minutes into the second half and had to go back to the bench.
Edey’s absence allowed the Illini to rally. But Purdue’s supporting cast delivered with the All-American candidate on the sidelines.
Along with Kaufman-Renn’s huge performance, Smith scored 15 points while distributing eight assists against just one turnover. Caleb Furst provided 10 key points and seven boards off the bench.
“It’s not just the Zach Edey show, man,” Painter said. “We have a lot of guys who can contribute. Trey and Braden were awesome tonight.”
What This Means Moving Forward
There’s no rest for the weary in the stacked Big Ten. Purdue has a quick turnaround before hosting Penn State on Monday. Then No. 24 Ohio State visits Mackey Arena next Thursday.
The schedule doesn’t get much easier for Illinois either. The Illini have won seven straight conference games at State Farm Center and will look to start a new streak against No. 14 Wisconsin on Tuesday.
This bitter rivalry has recently featured several epic showdowns and this latest installment should only intensify things going forward. These teams meet again in Champaign on February 4.
While Purdue survived, Friday night proved Illinois is more than capable of knocking off the No. 1 team if they meet again down the road. The Boilermakers are clearly the class of the Big Ten right now, but they’ll have a target on their backs every time they take the floor.
Players to Watch in Rematch on February 4:
Zach Edey: The Wooden Award frontrunner will look to avoid foul trouble and dominate inside like he has all season.
Fletcher Loyer: The freshman guard must improve on a 2-10 shooting night, including 1-6 from deep.
Caleb Furst: His energy and rebounding off the bench were huge with Edey in foul trouble.
Terrence Shannon Jr: The Texas Tech transfer is averaging 17 ppg and gives Illinois a dynamic go-to scorer.
Jayden Epps: His quickness poses problems for the Boilermaker defense. Scored 8 points on 4-12 shooting.
Matthew Mayer: Former Baylor forward provides floor spacing. Had an off night, going just 1-7 from three.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.