Purdue Boilermakers Fall to the Illini, 66-57
The Illini men beat Purdue 66-57 last night in Champaign, and while it's sometimes difficult to pinpoint the reason for an outcome, Purdue coach Matt Painter had no trouble naming the deciding factor.
"I thought Leron Black was the best player on the floor. I don't think it was even close," said Painter.
Black finished with 15 points and an Illini season-high 13 rebounds.
Before Wednesday night, freshman Black had seen limited playing time as he tried to learn John Groce's offensive and defensive schemes.
He couldn't say which is harder to assimilate.
"The coaching staff and the players, they just told me to keep pushing and keep working, and that's what I did. My momma, she didn't raise no quitter, so I wasn't going to quit. With the people behind me, the coaching staff and everybody, I wasn't going to quit," said Black.
Malcolm Hill led the Illini in scoring with 18. Nnanna Egwu and Kendrick Nunn each grabbed seven rebounds. Nunn added 14 points, and Egwu 11.
Egwu also blocked five shots, eclipsing Deon Thomas as the all-time career leader at Illinois.
To seal the win, Illinois converted eleven consecutive free-throws in the game's final twelve minutes.
Jon Octeus and Raphael Davis led the Boilermakers with 14 points apiece.
Aaron Cosby did not play for Illinois. He suffered a retinal tear in Sunday's game against Indiana, and underwent a laser procedure on Monday. He'll be out for one to two weeks.
Purdue drops to 11-8 on the year, 3-3 in conference. The Illini are now 3-4 in Big Ten play, 13-7 overall. They'll travel to Minnesota on Friday for a Saturday game against the Gophers. That game tips at 1:15 p.m. central.