No. 13 Illinois men’s basketball to face No. 3 Purdue in top-15 road battle 

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Cameron Krasucki

Graduate student forward Jacob Grandison takes a shot during the second half of Illinois’ 80-67 win over Wisconsin at State Farm Center on Feb. 2. The No. 13 Illini head to Mackey Arena in West Lafayette to take on the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers on Tuesday night.

By Christian Jones, Staff Writer

No. 13 Illinois is on the road to West Lafayette, where they will face No. 3 Purdue on Tuesday in what is sure to be the game of the week, if not the year.

Illinois (17-5, 10-2) is on a four-game winning streak and has won four out of five games since losing to Purdue (20-3, 9-3) last month at State Farm Center in Champaign. The Boilermakers are on a five-game winning streak of their own.

Their last meeting in Champaign was dominated by the Boilermakers’ three-headed monster of Zach Edey, Jaden Ivey and Stefan Stefanovic. That trio combined for 61 points en route to a 96-88 Purdue victory on Jan. 17. 

Since then, Ivey has picked up his scoring, tallying at least 20 points in all but one of his past five games. He hit a game-winner at the buzzer against Ohio State just a week ago.

“Ivey’s turned into a guy that’s in go mode,” Underwood said. “They’re letting him play a lot more. They’re giving him the ball. They’re isolating him more. He’s a very talented player.”

Underwood went on to call Ivey the “Ja Morant of college basketball,” citing his unparalleled athleticism within the college game. He believes Purdue’s success has come from leaning on Ivey more.

The Illini, for the second straight game, are playing for control of the lead in the Big Ten standings. A win at Mackey Arena would give the Illini their sixth Quad 1 win of the season, putting them in a tie with Purdue for most in the Big Ten.

The stakes are high, and the Illini struggled in their last meeting with the Boilermakers

“Looking back at the film in all the meeting that we’ve had, we didn’t really play that great of a game, but we were still in the game,” said graduate student forward Jacob Grandison said. “Now we have another opportunity, 40 minutes to play as close to a perfect game as we can. This last game went to two overtimes, which means there were three separate chances.”

Grandison said the team is more confident going into this second meeting, but the game doesn’t necessarily feel bigger than any other on the schedule. 

“All these games are big games,” Grandison said.

Illinois at Purdue is the only top-15 matchup this week, and tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.

 

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