Purdue grinds past Northwestern into Big Ten Tournament Semi-finals

It was like a Big Ten game of old as Purdue and Northwestern met in a physical quarterfinal matchup, but Purdue’s defense and foul shooting was enough to move the Boilermakers past Northwestern and into the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis. Both teams combined to commit 52 fouls, there were a pair of technical fouls, and the teams shot 66 combined free throws. Purdue hit enough of those free throws, going 29 of 39 from the free throw line in a 69-61 win.

E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson stepped up, however, in the absence of Robbie Hummel. Moore finished with 28 points while Johnson had 22 points and eight rebounds. Purdue proved to be the tougher team after trailing 34-30 at the half. Johnson and Keaton Grant each converted old-fashioned 3-point plays to start the second half and Purdue never trailed again.

“I felt it was a hard fought game and that is what you expect when you play Northwestern,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter. "Our guys did a great job in the second half of getting on the glass and our effort was a major difference.

Northwestern wasn’t done though, as John Shurna finished with 16 in a big second half. Drew Crawford and Michael Thompson also kept things close with six 3-pointers combined. Northwestern led by 11 in the first half, but couldn’t put the Boilers away. This was Purdue’s first win over Northwestern this season, as the Wildcats won the only meeting in Evanston on January 16th.

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