The Drum Beat
By Shawn Martin
Purdue always presents significant challenges for opponents with a trio of “problems” to try and keep in check to have a chance to knock off one of the best teams in the country.
Illinois (13-4, 6-1) hosted 4th ranked Purdue in a noon matinee (11 a.m. local) men’s basketball game in State Farm Center in Champaign Monday as part of Martin Luther King Day festivities.
Purdue won the game in Double Overtime 96-88 over the B1G Conference leading Ilini.
Purdue went early and often to their two post players. 7-foot 4 Zach Edey and 6-10 Trevion Williams combined for ten points. Edey dominated Illinois’ 7-0 All American Kofi Cockburn during the first ten minutes of the game, scoring 8 points in about 5-1/2 minutes of playing time. Williams added a post-up basket.
Then it was time for the Jaden Ivey show. Ivey began to breakdown the Illini guards off the dribble making shots in the lane and drawing fouls. Fouls -and the resulting free throws – became an issue as the game progressed. The Boilermakers made 26-32 free throws for the game. Illinois shot 15 making 12.
Cockburn played 22 minutes and was largely not a factor for Illinois like he normally is. He struggled to get a good look at the basket on offense, and then had trouble defending the two Purdue Bigs. A double whammy.
Purdue jumped out 6-0 the first 3:20 seconds of the game. Illinois stopped the bleeding and played even with Purdue over the next six minutes. They then took their first lead on a jumper by Trent Frazier to go up 21-20 with 7:45 left in the first half. Forty seconds later Alfonzo Plummer nailed a three to put the Illini up 24-20.
Purdue guard Isaiah Thompson hit a three to cut the lead to one, then a pivotal point in the game occurred.
Right before the under 8 media timeout Illini forward Omar Payne and Purdue center Trevion Williams got tangled up and it escalated, and the players had to be separated. Both teams went to their bench areas to calm down while the officials watched the replay to determine what happened.
Both players were assessed technical fouls and Payne was given a flagrant one as well. That gave Purdue two free throws and the ball.
Purdue scored the next 14 points to take a 13-point lead. Cockburn made 2 free throws to stop the 17-0 run and make it 37-26 as the teams went to the locker rooms. Edey led Purdue with 14 points in the first half followed by Ivey’s 8.
The hosts hung in at the start of the second half, yet still trailed by 8 with almost five minutes gone in the half. That lead staid steady for a couple of minutes with both teams trading baskets.
Then Purdue went cold from the field just as Plummer started hitting 3’s. Plummer hit a free throw to tie the score at 49 with 10:27 left in regulation.
Purdue rebuilt the lead to 9 points (60-51) with 6:24 on a Sasha Stefanovich three. They led by 7 with 2:07 left, only to watch Illinois finish regulation with a 9-2 run to force overtime.
The first extra period saw the two teams traded baskets – Purdue up 2, then Illinois ties it up. Back and forth. A key play was with 4:19 left Cockburn fouls out.
During the second overtime, Stefanovic hits a three, then shortly later is fouled on an attempted 3. He he two of the three freebies.
Purdue put the game away at the free throw line – hitting 7 of eight to record the final score.
Purdue (15-2, 4-2) was led by Stefanovic with 22 points. Edey finished with 20, Ivey 19, Williams 14, and Eric Hunter 11.
Illinois’ Alfonzo Plummer was a sizzling scorer this afternoon. He led all scorers with 24. Andre Curbelo added 20, Trent Frazier 16, and Cockburn 10. This was Curbelo’s first game in nearly two months.