No. 4 Purdue, smarting for upset loss, faces skidding Northwestern


No. 4 Purdue will try to bounce back from a difficult loss when it hosts Northwestern in a Big Ten Conference matchup Sunday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind.

The Boilermakers (15-3, 4-3 Big Ten) are coming off a 68-65 road defeat against Indiana on Thursday. Jaden Ivey scored 21 points for Purdue, including 19 in the second half, but he missed a 3-point shot at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.

“I had confidence on the one I took … where it was kind of contested,” Ivey said. “I tried to get it high off the glass so the bigs could get a tip-in. My leg was bothering me all game. Even before the game, I didn’t know if I could really play because of my groin. It just (stinks) losing.”

As Purdue looks to regroup, Northwestern is hoping to knock off a top-10 opponent for the second time in its past three games. The Wildcats beat then-No. 10 Michigan State 64-62 on Jan. 15.

Ryan Young had 18 points and eight rebounds in that victory, which marked the first time the Wildcats knocked off a top-10 opponent on the road since February 2017.

“We matched their physicality and toughness, which was a big key in winning,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said.

However, the Wildcats followed up their feel-good win with an 82-76 home loss against No. 8 Wisconsin on Tuesday. Chase Audige scored a team-high 23 points and Boo Buie contributed 19, but the Wildcats fell short for the fifth time in their past six games.

“We had this game a few times,” Audige said. “It was just a few key plays and stuff like that, but we’re going to keep fighting.”

It will not be easy against Purdue, which boasts one of the most dynamic offenses in the nation. Ivey leads the team with an average of 16.7 points per game, while big men Zach Edey (15.4) and Trevion Williams (12.7) are next on the scoring list.

Sasha Stefanovic is the fourth Boilermaker to average double-figure scoring at 11.6 points per game. He is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range, just behind Ivey’s rate of 42.4 percent from deep.

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Williams, who stands 6-foot-10, leads Purdue with 8.3 rebounds per game. He combines with 7-foot-4 Edey to form an imposing frontcourt combination.

Both players seem destined for professional careers, but Williams said he came back to Purdue this season for more development and a shot at an NCAA championship.

“I kind of did a reality check on myself, I didn’t think I was ready for the NBA,” Williams said. “Obviously, there’s always areas you can improve on, but I was just real with myself. I told myself, ‘You’re not ready for the NBA.’

“It’s hard to kind of say it to yourself, because you always feel like you can do better. I feel like I can survive in an NBA game, but the reality is, I wasn’t ready.”

The Saturday matchup will be the first of two meetings between the schools during the regular season. They rematch is set for Feb. 16 in Evanston, Ill.

–Field Level Media



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