Purdue Clinch Outright Title at Illinois 77 to 71

Purdue Clinch Outright Title at Illinois 77 to 71

by: Steven Stremming, Excel H Sports/USBWA

Tuesday, March 5, 2024, will go down in the history books as the night the Purdue Boilermakers traveled to Champaign, Illinois and clinched the B1G Ten Men’s basketball regular season outright in a fierce game against an elite Illini team.

This gives the Boilers back-to-back conference championships, something that hasn’t occurred since Ohio State in 2006 and 2007. This also gave the Boilers a perfect seven and zero record against ranked teams for the season.

In front of a standing room crowd of 15,544, the homestanding Illini of Head Coach Brad Underwood played to their potential, as they dominated the early stages of the game behind Quincy Guerrier’s three-point shooting, Terrance Shannon, Jr. and Coleman Hawkins rebounding and shooting. Though for the game, Shannon, Jr. was in early foul trouble and wasn’t a big factor in the outcome of the game.

Purdue would not tie the game until the 13:22 mark in the second half when Zach Edey tied the game with a dunk at 49 apiece.

Purdue would not take the lead in the game for another almost three minutes when Mason Gillis buried a three that was assisted by Lance Jones to put the Boilers up 56 to 54.

The game would be a play by play, shot by shot from this point to the three-minute mark when Fletcher Loyer would score from three-point land with an assist from Braden Smith to make the sure 67 to 66. Layer would score again and put the Boilers up 69 to 66 with a little more than a minute and a half left in the game.

After Illini Marcus Domask made two charity tosses to pull the team within three at a minute from the final horn.

Lance Jones would hit a three with under a minute to push the Boilers back up six, 74 to 68.

Purdue would celebrate the win and the championship when Braden Smith nailed a three pointer at nineteen seconds left in the game to have the scoreboard read 77 to 71.

For the game the Boilers shot 48.3% from the field, 56.3% percent from behind the arc, connected on over 71% percent from the charity stripe and committed only eight turnovers.

The Illini hit 45.5% percent from the floor, but only 25% from the three-point line and 81% percent from the line. The Illini committed only twelve turnovers for the game.

Purdue was led by Edey’s 28 points, eight boards and two blocks, Braden Smith scored 13 points, six assists and three of four from behind the arc.

Fletcher Loyer had back-to-back solid games with 16 points on six of twelve from the floor, that included two of three from deep with five assists.

Mason Gillis scored ten points off the bench along with six rebounds and four assists and Lance Jones tallied seven points.

Illinois was led by Marcus Domask 20 points on eight of sixteen shooting, a perfect four of four from the line and four assists.

Courtney Hawkins added 13 points, Guerrier 12 points, Shannon, Jr. 11 points and Sophomore Ty Rodgers eight points.

Purdue came into the contest as the #2 Excel H Sports rankings and Illinois the #9 Excel H Sports rankings.

The officiating the game were, Kelly Pfeifer, Jeffrey Anderson and Doug Simmons and to put it simply, they were also up to the challenge of the game.

(The following is credit sourced to Purdue University Athletics)

  • Purdue improved to 27-3 overall and 16-3 in the Big Ten Conference with a 77-71 win over No. 12-ranked Illinois in Champaign.
  • The win enabled Purdue to win the outright Big Ten regular-season championship for the second straight year. Purdue became the first Big Ten program since Ohio State in 2005-06 and 2006-07 to win back-to-back outright titles.
  • A win on Sunday over Wisconsin will give Purdue a three-game cushion in the final Big Ten standings for the second straight season.
  • Purdue is now 7-0 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25, with all of the opponents being ranked in the top 12 at the time of the game. Since the 2021-22 season, Purdue is 16-5 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25, easily the best winning percentage in the country (.762; Arizona is second at 14-7 — .667).
  • Since the start of last year, Purdue is 14-6 in Big Ten road games – the only team above .500 in the Big Ten in road games. Purdue has gone 7-3 on the road in both seasons.
  • Purdue’s 7-3 road record is the second-best road record among high-major programs in the country (North Carolina; 7-2).
  • The win was Purdue’s 58th in Big Ten play since the 2020-21 season, this year’s current seniors freshman campaign. The 58 wins in league play are a school record and now just one off the Big Ten record (Indiana twice – 1978, 1979).
  • Illinois was held under 75 points for the first time since Jan. 27.
  • The win was Purdue’s nation-leading 11th quad-1 win and 24th in the first three quads.
  • Purdue’s 16 Big Ten wins are now tied for the most in Purdue history.
  • Purdue has now trailed by six or more points in 10 games this year. Purdue is 8-2 in those games.
  • Purdue’s 27 wins are tied for the most in a regular season in school history (1987-88).
  • Purdue’s 56 wins since the start of last season are the third-most victories in a two-year span in school history. The school record is 58 (2021-22, 2022-23).
  • Purdue went 8-of-10 from long distance in the second half, after going 1-of-6 in the opening half.
  • Braden Smith became Purdue’s single-season assists record holder, now with 212 assists on the season. He passed Bruce Parkinson (1974-75) with 207 assists.
  • Smith had 13 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals – his 11th straight game scoring in double-figures. Smith hit a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to put the game away.
  • Zach Edey scored 28 points with 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks – his 81st straight game scoring in double-figures.
  • Edey moved into ninth place on the Purdue single-season scoring list (724 points).
  • Edey now needs 66 points to pass Rick Mount (2,323) to become the school’s all-time leading scorer. Edey has 2,257 career points.
  • Edey moved into fourth place on the school’s single-season rebounds list (350), and now needs three rebounds for 1,200 in his career.
  • Fletcher Loyer tallied 16 points, five assists and three rebounds – his second straight double-figure scoring game. In the last two games, Loyer is 6-of-9 from 3-point range, averaging 15.5 points and 4.0 assists per game.
  • Mason Gillis tallied 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. Purdue is now 40-4 during his career when he makes two or more 3-pointers.

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