WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Even without star sophomore Jaden Ivey in the lineup, No. 4 Purdue basketball had no shortage of points on the board when it hosted Northwestern. Senior guard Sasha Stefanovic stepped up for the Boilermakers in the first half, leading all scorers with 16 points before halftime, including a 4-of-5 mark from the 3-point line.
Stefanovic finished the game with a team-high 22 points after adding another six points in the second half. Purdue had four players end in double figures and outrebounded Northwestern 33-21 en route to an 80-60 victory Sunday at Mackey Arena.
The Boilermakers improved to 16-3 on the season, including 5-3 in the Big Ten, and have held five straight opponents to under 70 points by the end of regulation.
“I thought we had contributions from a bunch of different guys,” Stefanovic said after the win. “Everyone kinda brought the energy, brought some toughness, and we came out with a big win.”
Northwestern had eight players in the scoring column before the break, with senior forward Pete Nance leading the way with seven points for the Wildcats.
Sophomore center Zach Edey added eight points and five rebounds. Senior Trevion Williams and freshman Caleb Furst each had seven points and three rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play. Furst was perfect in the first half, making both his shots from the field and adding a pair of free throws in just seven minutes to help the Boilermakers take a 40-28 lead at halftime.
“We kind of got simple and went more just directly to the post,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “Defensively, we didn’t really do anything differently, we probably just went in the post a little bit more and tried to get Sasha involved a little bit more from an offensive standpoint.”
Northwestern opened the second half with a 7-0 run to cut down the double-digit deficit. But the Wildcats were unable to bring the game to within less than five points as junior guard Isaiah Thompson hit back-to-back 3-pointers for the Boilermakers.
Thompson scored Purdue’s first eight points in the second half and never turned the ball over. He registered more than 15 minutes on the floor in the win and had one assist.
“Shooting is the last thing I’m worried about,” Thompson said. “I just wanted to just stay with it and keep being aggressive. I think Sasha really got us off to a good start without Jaden. Obviously, Jaden is such a dynamic player and does a lot for our team.
“I don’t think it was anything specific we wanted to do since he was out. We just wanted to come in, just play hard and play with an edge.”
The Boilermakers went on a 14-2 run in the middle of the second half, extending their lead to as many as 18 points before the Wildcats punched back. Northwestern senior guard Boo Buie scored three unanswered shots from 3-point range, bringing the deficit back to within single digits.
Buie scored 17 points on the afternoon and was the only Northwestern player to end the game in double figures. He was 5-8 from the 3-point line and led the team with four rebounds and three assists.
But as the Wildcats missed seven of their last nine shots, the Boilermakers pushed their lead to 20 points when the buzzer sounded. Williams and Edey both finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The team came away with 10 offensive rebounds in the win and turned the ball over just nine times.
“You never get it fixed in rebounding and taking care of the tball, it’s never fixed. You always have an incomplete puzzle,” Painter said. “As a coach, you’ve always got to work in those two areas. Those two pillars are going to be a part of basketball, I don’t care what they change and what they do. You always have to be able to rebound the basketball and take care of it.”
Senior guard Eric Hunter Jr. — who celebrated his 23rd birthday with the win — quietly registered 10 points, led the team with five assists and came away with two steals.
Purdue is back in action Thursday for a road matchup against Iowa at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It will be the team’s third venture away from West Lafayette in four games.
Stories Related to Purdue Basketball
- MATT PAINTER UNSURE WHEN JADEN IVEY WILL RETURN: After an 80-60 Purdue victory over Northwestern at Mackey Arena, coach Matt Painter said he wasn't sure when star sophomore Jaden Ivey would be ready to play after missing the matchup due to injury. CLICK HERE
- PURDUE, NORTHWESTERN LIVE BLOG: Purdue basketball was back at home for a matchup with Northwestern at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers were looking to win their 10th straight game against the Wildcats, but were without star sophomore Jaden Ivey. CLICK HERE
- HOW PURDUE FAILED TO CLOSE OUT AGAINST INDIANA: No. 4 Purdue led Indiana by two points with a minute left to play Thursday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Boilermakers had opportunities to close out the Hoosiers, but the team was unable to put the game away in the waning seconds. CLICK HERE
- PURDUE DROPS ROAD MATCHUP AGAINST INDIANA: Purdue basketball was unable to put away Indiana on the road Thursday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Sophomore guard Jaden Ivey scored a team-high 21 points in the loss, but 20 points from Rob Phinisee propelled the Hoosiers to victory. CLICK HERE