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Strong second half fuels Purdue

Purdue finally found its shooting touch in the second half and combined that with its solid rebounding, good free-throw shooting and sound ballhandling from the first to beat Illinois 75-65 Saturday at Mackey Arena.

The No. 4 Boilermakers shot 46 percent in the second half and outscored the Illini 43-30. They outrebounded Illinois (35-30), held an edge at the line (24 of 28 vs. 3 of 5) and had only five turnovers.

That sound play allowed Purdue to combat Illinois' 49 percent shooting.

"It was a great college basketball game," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "It was an old-fashioned Big Ten, hard-fought. They played very well. I thought we played as well as we have. I just told my players not to hold anything back. This is a tough place to play and against a very good team that's playing well.

"They made some plays and we didn't."

Usually when a coach spouts the "great college basketball game" line, I ignore it. But Weber was right on.

It may have been the best game I've seen this season.

Both teams played good basketball. Demetri McCamey was special with the way he shared the ball (16 assists), and his vision was fantastic at times. I'm still not sure how he found Mike Davis for a dunk. But Illinois also made a lot of shots, and there were some tough ones with Purdue defenders in their face. It was talented players making plays.

And Purdue did plenty of that, too.

Keaton Grant made three three-pointers -- a welcome surprise after the way his season has gone shooting -- and scored 15 points, and E'Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel were great.

Moore (18 points, four assists) took the team on his shoulders in the final six minutes, running the offense off screens to near perfection. He's so impressive making the right decisions this season.

Hummel didn't shoot well -- 4 of 13 -- but he got to the line 12 times and made all of them. He finished with 22 points and was a beast on the boards with 12.

In these final weeks in a tight Big Ten race, you'd like to hope the teams play like they want the championship. That's exactly what happened Saturday.