Caleb Swanigan

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Swanigan, Thompson lead No. 15 Purdue past Wisconsin 91-80

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Freshman Caleb Swanigan scored a career-high 27 points and sophomore P.J. Thompson also set a career best with 22, leading No. 15 Purdue to a 91-80 victory against Wisconsin on Sunday.

A.J. Hammons added 16 points and Vince Edwards had 11 for the Boilermakers (24-7, 12-6), who forced a four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten with Maryland, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Purdue earned the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play in Friday’s second semifinal against an opponent to be determined.

Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin (20-11, 12-6) with 30 points, including 18 in the second half. The Badgers earned the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament and will play Thursday in Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Badgers, who had a four-game winning streak snapped, are the reigning Big Ten Tournament champs.

After Thompson made five first-half 3-pointers, the Badgers were forced to extend their defense and Swanigan, Purdue’s power forward, had a 23-point second half. The Boilermakers will take a three-game winning streak into the Big Ten tourney.

The Boilermakers opened the second half with a three-point play from Swanigan and a steal and dunk from Edwards to seize a 50-39 lead with 18:12 remaining. Swanigan’s layup pushed the advantage to 52-39 at the 17:09 mark.

Purdue shot 63 percent (17 of 27) during the first half and led 45-39 through 20 minutes, getting 15 from Thompson on 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

After Wisconsin, which shot 57.1 percent in the half (16 of 28) took a 29-21 lead, the Boilermakers finished the half outscoring the Badgers 24-10, including six 3-pointers. Purdue also outrebounded Wisconsin 13-7 during the first 20 minutes, when Hayes scores 12 for the Badgers.


Wisconsin: Entering the Purdue game, the Badgers were 11-1 since a Jan. 12 loss at Northwestern, losing only at second-ranked Michigan State on Feb. 18. … In its eight most recent games, Wisconsin is 72 of 175 from 3-point range (41.1 percent), averaging nine made 3s in those eight contests. … The Badgers have won 20 games for a 10th consecutive season and have won at least 12 Big Ten games for a seventh consecutive year.

Purdue: The Boilermakers’ non-starters outscored the opponent’s bench in 28 of the first 30 games. … Entering the Wisconsin game, center A.J, Hammons had scored in double figures 11 consecutive times … The Boilermakers’ 46.5 field goal percentage is the program’s best since the 1997-98 team shot 48.4 percent. … Purdue entered having won 22 of its last 23 home games.


Wisconsin: Big Ten Tournament, TBA

Purdue: Big Ten Tournament, TBA

No. 20 Purdue hangs on to beat No. 10 Maryland

AP Photo/R Brent Smith
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Having lost to No. 10 Maryland earlier this month, No. 20 Purdue was looking for some payback Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette. And thanks to their bench and superior effort on the glass, Matt Painter’s Boilermakers accomplished that task. Purdue hung on despite struggling mightily against Maryland’s full court pressure in the second half, winning 83-79 thanks in large part to the work they were able to do during the game’s first 35 minutes.

Purdue dominated in the rebounding department, grabbing 59.4 percent of its available missed shots and converting those 19 offensive rebounds into 24 second-chance points. And it was a group effort on the boards, with seven Boilermakers grabbing at least two offensive rebounds (Johnny Hill led the way with four).

Maryland’s been good defensively when it comes to shooting percentages, as they entered Saturday second in the Big Ten in both overall and three-point field goal percentage defense (conference games only). But where they’ve struggled is completing defensive possessions with a rebound, as they entered the game ranked ninth in the Big Ten in defensive rebounding percentage (70.6). Maryland was even worse than that against Purdue, and that resulted in a deficit that proved to be too much to recover from.

As balanced as Purdue was on the boards, they were just as good in the scoring department. Five players, led by A.J. Hammons’ 19 points, finished in double figures with Dakota Mathias adding 17 points off the bench. Purdue’s reserves outscored Maryland’s 30-10, with 18 of those points coming in the first half. The Boilermakers got out of the gates quickly thanks to their starters, but it was the bench that helped them maintain a working margin for most of the day.

Purdue has some work to do when it comes to dealing with pressure, as was the case Saturday. Maryland used Jake Layman at the head of their press as they looked to change momentum, and Purdue’s guards reacted as if they hadn’t seen a press at all this season. That, even with the improved play of P.J. Thompson, was the question many asked regarding Purdue’s chances in March.

Will they have enough on the perimeter to supplement the efforts of Hammons, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas in the post? Purdue’s 15 turnovers were converted into 22 points by the Terrapins, who nearly stole the game as a result. The Boilermakers have turned the ball over on more than 17 percent of their possessions in Big Ten play, and it’s something they’ll have to address heading into the NCAA tournament.

But the Boilermakers also got a lot going for themselves, including their size, depth and the ability to earn extra possessions through offensive rebounds. Purdue took advantage of those attributes against Maryland, picking up a quality win as a result.

Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan in doubt for this weekend with ankle injury

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Purdue won at Minnesota on Wednesday night, but they did it without star freshman Caleb Swanigan.

‘Biggie’ rolled his ankle in a loss to Iowa over the weekend, and while he still managed to play 10 second half minutes in that game — and practice for the majority of the time on Tuesday — the staff held him out of Wednesday’s game. Head coach Matt Painter told reporters after the game that the ankle was too sore to even partake is shootaround and that the 6-foot-9 power forward’s status for the weekend was unclear. Purdue plays Nebraska in West Lafayette on Saturday.

Swanigan is averaging 10.1 points and 8.9 boards on the season.

Purdue was also without Kendell Stephens, their best three-point shooter, who is mourning the death of a friend and missed his second straight game.

No. 20 Purdue struggles on both ends in loss at Illinois

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With three talented big men in A.J. Hammons, Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan, No. 20 Purdue has one of the nation’s top front court rotations. But if the Boilermakers are to be a factor in the Big Ten and nationally when the NCAA tournament begins, they’d going to need more consistent play from their guards. The perimeter struggled Sunday night in Champaign, and the end result was an 84-70 loss at Illinois.

There’s no denying the fact that the junior tandem of Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn is a talented one, as they entered Sunday’s game combining to average more than 36 points per game. And they were even better against Purdue, combining to shoot 17-for-27 from the field with Hill scoring 30 points and grabbing eight rebounds and Nunn finishing with 22 points and five boards.

They were the catalysts for an Illinois offense that shot 54.2 percent from the field and forced the Boilermakers to go small in an attempt to match up. But the biggest issue for Purdue was their offense rather than their defense, and Illinois had something to do with that.

Illinois used a sagging man-to-man for most of the game, taking away post touches and essentially daring the Purdue guards to become playmakers without the aid of getting the ball in to Hammons, Swanigan and Haas. And outside of P.J. Thompson, who came off the bench to score 12 points and dish out four assists, the Purdue guards were unable to make the Fighting Illini pay.

Purdue shot 7-for-22 from three, with many of those looks not being of the quality they can be when the big men are drawing in extra defenders. Add in 16 turnovers, which Illinois converted into 24 points on the other end, and it was the offense that was Purdue’s biggest problem Sunday night. That put more stress on their ability to get stops, and with Rapheal Davis dealing with foul trouble and Hill and Nunn red hot, the Boilermakers were unable to do so on a consistent basis.

By no means is Purdue out of the Big Ten race, even though they’re now two games out in the loss column, because there’s still plenty of basketball to be played. But if they’re to have a chance at winning the league title, Purdue’s perimeter contributors have to be consistent in their production.

POSTERIZED: Illinois’ Kendrick Nunn finishes with authority

Associated Press
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Illinois junior guard Kendrick Nunn’s had an eventful week, beginning with the birth of his son. Sunday night Nunn made his return to the court after missing the Fighting Illini’s game at No. 5 Michigan State, and he made his presence felt throughout the game against No. 20 Purdue.

Nunn’s biggest highlight: the above dunk on Purdue freshman forward Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan appeared to have designs on challenging Nunn at the rim, but once in mid-air he pulled his hand back. Almost as if he were resigned to his fate.

No Dunham, no problem: No. 17 Butler hands No. 9 Purdue their first loss

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Butler may be the No. 17 team in the country today, but they’re No. 1 in the state of Indiana as the Bulldogs handed No. 9 Purdue their first loss of the season on Saturday evening, 74-68.

The Bulldogs pulled away midway through the second half, using a 17-4 run that stretched their lead out to 53-37. Purdue would chip away at that lead, getting within seven before Butler’s free throw shooting failed them, but the Bulldogs were able to make just enough from the charity stripe to hold on for the win.

Roosevelt Jones led the way for Butler with 19 points, 11 boards and five assists. Tyler Lewis added 17 points, six boards, four assists and four steals.

Beating Purdue is impressive in and of itself, but how Butler won this game is far more important than the simple fact that they did win. Kellen Dunham, Butler’s leading scorer, was 0-for-12 from the floor on Saturday. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Kelan Martin, Butler’s second leading scorer and the guy that’s averaged 23.0 points over the course of the last three games, finished just 2-for-9 from the field.

Combined they had nine points.

And Butler still won in relatively easy fashion, all things considered.

The Boilermakers have the biggest front line in the country, one that, on paper, looked like it should be able to overpower the Bulldogs. And, to a point, they did, as freshman Caleb Swanigan finished with 25 points and 11 boards while A.J. Hammons chipped in with 12 points. The problem is that size isn’t what is going to beat the Bulldogs. They’re big enough and disciplined enough defensively to take some of that away.

Where Butler can be beaten is off the dribble. Facts are facts: Tyler Lewis, and, to a point, Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, are all somewhere between not great and pretty bad when it comes to their ability to keep penetrating guards out of the lane. The one thing that Purdue does not have on their roster this season is a dynamic playmaker in their back court, someone that can break down a defense and take advantage of Lewis’ limitations.

In other words, this is just not an ideal matchup for Purdue.

And it showed in final box score.