For The Tribune
After watching eighth-seeded Michigan upset top-seeded Indiana in the first contest of the afternoon Friday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Purdue wanted no part of a letdown in the team’s opening game of the Big Ten Tournament.
Thanks to 10 points apiece in the first half from big men A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, the Boilermakers took care of business from the start, grabbing a 45-25 halftime lead en route to an 89-58 win.
Purdue (25-7) now moves on to play Michigan, which used a last-second 3-pointer to beat the Hoosiers on Saturday in the first game of the day.
“Our guys are letting things come to them,” Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter said after the game. “They are having more ball movement and a lot more of our shots were in rhythm.”
Purdue had five players reach double figures, led by Haas’ 16 points. He finished 8 of 9 from the field, while Hammons finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. His effort helped the Boilermakers out rebounded the Illini 42-24.
Leading 13-11 with just over 13:48 remaining in the first half, Purdue closed the half on an explosive 32-14 run to take the aforementioned lopsided advantage into the break. The Boilermakers finished the first half 18 of 29 from the field (62 percent).
Not normally known for its outside shooting, especially with multiple 7-footers inside, Purdue finished the game 13-for-27 (48 percent) from long range. Vince Edwards led the charge, draining 4 of 5 attempts in the game to finish with 14 points.
For the game, the Boilermakers shot 35-for-60 (58 percent) while the Illini finished 22 of 56 (39 percent).
Maverick Morgan led Illinois (15-19) with 17 points while Malcolm Hill, who also added seven rebounds, contributed 16 in the loss.
Purdue, which earned its fourth straight win, finished the game with 25 assists while Illinois only tallied 11.
“It takes five guys to move the ball, and we did a good job of that,” Painter said.
The total attendance for the first session Friday, featuring Indiana and Purdue, was 18,355.