Swanigan, Thompson lead No. 15 Purdue past Wisconsin 91-80
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Purdue has won 24 of its last 31 games in large part because of seniors A.J. Hammons and Rapheal Davis. But on Senior Day, it was the Boilermakers' underclassmen who led the way against Wisconsin.
Freshman power forward Caleb Swanigan scored a career-high 27 points and sophomore point guard P.J. Thompson also set a career best with 22, leading Purdue to a 91-80 victory Sunday night.
Swanigan, whose previous career best was 25 in a loss to Butler, came in averaging 9.9 points. Thompson, whose previous high was 16 in a loss to Iowa, came in averaging 5.3.
Hammons added 16 points and Vince Edwards had 11 for the Boilermakers (24-7, 12-6), who forced a four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten with Maryland, Iowa and Wisconsin.
''I got the shots I got because of our spacing and our passing,'' Thompson said. ''And our ball movement in the second half allowed us to get the ball inside to Caleb.''
Purdue earned the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play in Friday's second semifinal against either Iowa, Illinois or Minnesota.
''Even though A.J. and I are the leaders on this team, tonight was a testament to Caleb and P.J. playing in the moment,'' defensive specialist Davis said. ''You saw P.J. and Caleb grow up tonight. I won't be here next year, but with who is coming back, this team will be good.''
Hammons, who made seven of 10 field goal attempts, said the play of Thompson and Swanigan allowed Purdue to keep Wisconsin from making a run.
''P.J. hit all of those clutch shots, and that really opened things up for (Swanigan) and I,'' Hammons said.
Nigel Hayes led Wisconsin (20-11, 12-6) with 30 points, including 18 in the second half. The Badgers earned the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament and will play either Nebraska or Rutgers on Thursday in Indianapolis' Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Badgers, who had a four-game winning streak snapped, are the reigning Big Ten Tournament champs.
After Thompson made five first-half 3-pointers, the Badgers were forced to extend their defense and Swanigan, Purdue's power forward, had a 23-point second half. The Boilermakers, who shot 62.2 percent (28 of 45) will take a three-game winning streak into the Big Ten tourney.
The Boilermakers opened the second half with a three-point play from Swanigan and a steal and dunk from Edwards to seize a 50-39 lead with 18:12 remaining. Swanigan's layup pushed the advantage to 52-39 at the 17:09 mark.
''P.J. kept us in it and gave us the lead,'' Painter said. ''Hitting those 3s couldn't have come at a better time. The start of the second half was huge for us. They tried to knock out Hammons and Isaac Haas, and Caleb ended up with a lot of space.
''We were going to throw the ball to Caleb Swanigan whether P.J. was hitting 3-pointers or not. And we have now shot the ball well for two weeks. Our guys took good shots.''
Purdue shot 63 percent (17 of 27) during the first half and led 45-39 through 20 minutes, getting 15 from Thompson on 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
''We knew we were playing a good team that is playing very well right now,'' Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. ''Swanigan is a really good player, and when you have to worry about Hammons, who hurt us in the game at Madison, and Haas, too, it makes it difficult to guard all three of their big men.''
Swanigan, Hammons and Haas combined for 49 points on 16 of 20 from the field.
After Wisconsin, which shot 57.1 percent in the half (16 of 28) took a 29-21 lead, the Boilermakers finished the half outscoring the Badgers 24-10, including six 3-pointers. Purdue also outrebounded Wisconsin 13-7 during the first 20 minutes, when Hayes scores 12 for the Badgers.
Wisconsin: Entering the Purdue game, the Badgers were 11-1 since a Jan. 12 loss at Northwestern, losing only at second-ranked Michigan State on Feb. 18. ... In its eight most recent games, Wisconsin is 72 of 175 from 3-point range (41.1 percent), averaging nine made 3s in those eight contests. ... The Badgers have won 20 games for a 10th consecutive season and have won at least 12 Big Ten games for a seventh consecutive year.
Purdue: The Boilermakers' non-starters outscored the opponent's bench in 28 of the first 30 games. ... Entering the Wisconsin game, center A.J, Hammons had scored in double figures 11 consecutive times ... The Boilermakers' 46.5 field goal percentage is the program's best since the 1997-98 team shot 48.4 percent. ... Purdue entered having won 22 of its last 23 home games.
CRAZY BIG TEN FINISH
Although Iowa was 2-0 against Purdue, the Big Ten's complicated formula for determining tournament seeds gave the Boilermakers the No. 4 seed and Iowa the No. 5 in the four-way tie for third place with Maryland and Wisconsin.
Purdue beating Ohio State and Iowa losing at Ohio State gave Purdue the 4 seed.
Painter is happy to benefit from the tiebreakers, but acknowledges it is an issue the Big Ten coaches should address during their spring meetings.
Wisconsin: Big Ten Tournament, 9 p.m, Thursday vs. Nebraska or Rutgers
Purdue: Big Ten Tournament, 2:30 p.m. Friday vs. Iowa/Illinois/Minnesota.