WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Purdue figured out how to slow the pace — and still score a little, too, Wednesday night.
Terone Johnson finished with a career-high 25 points and D.J. Byrd scored nine of his 15 during a key 19-3 second-half run, sending the Boilermakers past No. 11 Illinois 68-61.
Byrd sealed the game with a three-point play with 20.1 seconds to go.
The Boilermakers (7-6, 1-0 Big Ten) have won three straight and are over .500 for the first time this season. They have won eight straight over the Fighting Illini.
Illinois (13-2, 0-1) was led by Brandon Paul with 15 points and Joseph Bertrand with 14, but managed only one basket during a decisive 5½-minute stretch of the second half. Illinois has lost eight straight conference road games, dating to a Jan. 4, 2012 win at Northwestern.
Its losing streak against Purdue is the school’s longest against a Big Ten foe since dropping nine straight to Purdue from 1996 to 2000.
Still, it took everything the Boilermakers had to hang on when Illinois rallied from a 10-point deficit over the final 3 ½ minutes to close to 63-61.
But Byrd put that away by grabbing an inbounds pass, tossing in a layup, drawing a foul and hitting the free throw to make it a two-possession game.
It looked like Illinois’ misery might end when it opened the game by going 6 of 10 from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range. That helped them hang on to a 33-31 halftime lead. The Illini extended the margin to 45-39 when Tyler Griffin hit a 3-pointer with 12:03 to play.
But Byrd and 7-foot freshman A.J. Hammons rallied Purdue.
After Johnson scored on a putback, Byrd knocked down a 3 to make it 45-44. Hammons scored on a short hook shot to give Purdue the lead and Byrd followed that with consecutive 3s. When Johnson drove in for a layup Purdue led 55-48 with 6:36 to play, and they led by as much as 61-51 with about 3 minutes to go.
This time the Illini closed the deficit to 61-58 with the second of two 3s by Paul 3s with 1:45 left.
After Purdue’s Ronnie Johnson scored, Richardson answered with his only 3 of the game to make it 63-61 with 28.4 seconds left.
But Byrd closed it out with the three-point play on Purdue’s next possession.
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