P.J. Thompson

AP Photo/Robert Franklin

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.

TIP-INS

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.

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Wisconsin: Big Ten Tournament, TBA

Purdue: Big Ten Tournament, TBA

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

Associated Press
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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.