Purdue Suffers 'Worst Ever' Loss at Illinois

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Purdue got off to a terrible start Sunday night at Illinois, and it never got any better, either.

The Boilermakers set a program record for futility, setting a school-record low for shooting percentage in an ugly 63-37 loss to the Fighting Illini. They missed their first 10 shots, and were just 25 percent shooting for the night, the worst mark in the 123-year history of the program.

Purdue didn’t have a single player in double figures. Sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic was its leading scorer with 8 points. Purdue coach Matt Painter wasn't happy, saying his team got “outworked and outplayed the entire night.”

He also questioned his team's work ethic. It looked like Purdue, which reached the Elite Eight a year ago, was resting on its laurels. Illinois now wants something that the Boilermakers had.

“Tonight, they played like a team who hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament,” Painter said. “They outplayed us, played harder than us and were better than us in every way.” 

Purdue fell behind 11-0 and could never find its offense at the State Farm Center, which is something of a disturbing trend this year, as the Boilermakers have really struggled away from home.

Purdue (9-6 overall,  2-2 in the Big Ten) shot just 15 of 60 (25 percent) from the field, including 3 of 17 (17.6 percent) from 3-point range. It made only 7 of its 34 shots (20.6 percent) in the second half.

Purdue was somehow still in the game with just over 12 minutes left, trailing only 41-32. But the Boilermakers made just 2 of their final 20 shots, getting outscored 22-5 the rest of the game.

Purdue, which averages 20 points per game more at home than on the road, couldn't get anything going from 3-point range, which is usually a staple for the Boilers. But they made only three long balls all night.

“Obviously if I had the answer, we wouldn’t be 3 of 17 (from 3-point range),” Painter said. "Our inability to make perimeter shots has really hampered us on the road.'' 

Alan Griffin led the Illini with his first career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 wing player had six offensive rebounds and was called “the best player on the floor tonight” by Painter.

Illinois freshman center Kofi Cockburn was effective, with 12 points, against Purdue’s twin tower lineup of Matt Haarms and Trevion Williams and led to Illinois in getting 17 second-chance  points.

Illinois guard Trent Frazier also had 12 points and played 33 minutes without a single turnover.

The 26-point margin of victory was the eighth-largest in this long and storied rivalry. And the 37-point total was disappointing because Illinois has been giving up points in bunches at times this season. The Illini have allowed 70 points or more six times already this season. 

It doesn't get any easier for the Boilermakers, who are back on the road Thursday at Michigan.

Road teams are just 3-20 so far in the Big Ten this season, so we know playing on the road in the league is difficult. The only upset on the road so far has been Wisconsin at Ohio State, so that makes it difficult to think Purdue will turn it around in Ann Arbor.

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