Illinois men’s basketball falls to 2-4 in Big Ten with loss at Purdue

Malcolm+Hill+with+the+ball+against+Purdue+on+January+17th%2C+2017.+The+Illini+lost+98-61

Alex Kumar/The Purdue Exponent

Malcolm Hill with the ball against Purdue on January 17th, 2017. The Illini lost 98-61

By Lucas Wright, Staff writer

An early three-point barrage from Purdue set the tone early in the Boilermakers’ 91-68 blowout win over the Illini men’s basketball team.

Illinois continued to struggle on many of the same fronts the team has been lacking on lately. Poor transition defense put the Illini in the hole early, falling behind 15-5 while the Boilermakers knocked down five of their first seven threes to open the contest.

On the offensive end, outside of Malcolm Hill and Maverick Morgan, Illinois could not get anything going early. Morgan established himself in the paint, and proved to be nearly automatic when he got position deep in the post. He and Hill combined for 16 of the Illini’s 30 first-half points. Illinois shot 13-for-36 from the field in the first half, compared to Purdue’s 15-for-25.

Up 44-30, Purdue opened the second half with more of the same dominating offense, stretching the lead to 27 at its peak. The Isaac Haas – Caleb Swanigan combo inside overpowered the Illini down the stretch, combining for 46 points on 16-27 from the field, while Carsen Edwards added 14 points including two three-pointers.

Leading the way for Illinois was Morgan with 15 points and Hill with 12. Outside of the duo, the offense was bleak for the Illini. The rest of the squad was a dismal 15-44 from the field.  Te’Jon Lucas added in 10 points as another one of the few bright spots for Illinois. Kipper Nichols had a standout performance last week against Michigan, but was a non-factor in the game, being held scoreless.

The loss dropped Illinois to 2-4 in Big Ten play, but the team will look to rebound Saturday on the road against Michigan, who the Illini routed last week in Champaign. The loss also dropped the Illini are 11-28 under John Groce in Big Ten road games.

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