CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP/WWJ) — Carsen Edwards scored a career-high 40 points and Dakota Mathias added 18 to help No. 9 Purdue outlast Illinois in a 93-86 victory on Thursday night.
The win keeps the Boilermakers in contention for the 2-seed in the Big Ten Tournament, set to start on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. The tournament is being held a week earlier than usual because the Big East is holding its conference tournament at MSG the following week.
While Purdue can still earn a share of the Big Ten regular season title with a win against Minnesota and a Michigan State loss on Sunday, they cannot claim the 1-seed because the Spartans own the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Boilermakers were without their second-leading scorer Vincent Edwards but had no problem scoring. Purdue shot 58.3 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from beyond the 3-point line. Carsen Edwards and Mathias each had four from behind the arc and Edwards had an electrifying dunk.
There were eight lead changes in the first half, highlighted by two big runs. With just under 10 minutes left Edwards stole the ball and went down for a huge dunk to spark a 17-6 run for the Boilermakers. The Illini responded with a 10-3 run to close out the half trailing 43-38.
Illinois stayed within striking distance the rest of the game, but ultimately Purdue’s size and Edwards scoring were too much. The sophomore scored 25 of his points in the second half, including a monstrous dunk on Trent Frazier with just under seven minutes to play.
The Boilermakers also outrebounded the Illini 33-20.
Leron Black led Illinois with 28 points, notching his fourth-consecutive 20-point game.
Illinois continues to struggle in close games. The Illini have now lost 10 games this season by single digits.
After losing three straight games, Purdue has reestablished itself in the Big Ten with two close victories over Penn State and Illinois. The Boilermakers are one win away from tying the second most victories in school history.
Purdue will close out the regular season at home against Minnesota on Sunday. The Golden Gophers are led by Jordan Murphy, who is ranked seventh in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.1 points per game.
Illinois hits the road to face Rutgers on Sunday. The Scarlet Knights are ranked second in the Big Ten in scoring defense.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.