Purdue Claims Big Ten Conference Title
March 15, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (AP) - Purdue finally lived up to its billing.
The Boilermakers, the preseason favorites in the Big Ten, fell to a No. 3 seed in the conference tournament by losing three of their final four regular season games. They found their groove at Conseco Fieldhouse.
E'Twaun Moore scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, and No. 24 Purdue rallied to beat Ohio State 65-61 on Sunday for its first Big Ten tournament title.
Moore made 4 of 8 3-pointers in the second half.
"My teammates did a good job of distributing and finding the openings," he said. "I just got a few open looks. Once I got the first one (3-pointer), that gave me a little confidence."
JaJuan Johnson scored 16 points, and Robbie Hummel added nine points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Boilermakers (24-9).
The Boilermakers committed 17 turnovers in the three tournament games, a departure from their sometimes sloppy play late in the regular season. Purdue coach Matt Painter said the team responded well to being challenged.
"I think it makes you stronger," he said. "Any time you lose three out of four games, there's two ways to look at it. You can complain, or you can say we should have done this, we should have done that, or you can stick to what you've done the whole year and try to do a better job of what you do."
Hummel was named the tournament's most outstanding player.
The Boilermakers, the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament West Region, will play Northern Iowa in the first round. Ohio State, the No. 8 seed in the Midwest, will play Siena.
The Buckeyes were happy with their Big Ten tournament performance overall.
"This tournament this weekend gave us a lot of confidence," Ohio State's Evan Turner, who led his team with 22 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game, said. "Three great teams we played against. Nobody expected us to go this far in the tournament."
Jon Diebler and William Buford each added 15 points for the Buckeyes (22-10), who were was chasing their second title in three years. The loss snapped the Buckeyes' four-game winning streak.
Purdue beat Penn State and Illinois to reach the final. Fifth-seeded Ohio State beat Wisconsin and No. 7 Michigan State to advance to the championship game.
The Boilermakers enjoyed a virtual homecourt advantage over the weekend. Conseco Fieldhouse is about 65 miles from Purdue's campus in West Lafayette, Ind.
Ohio State led 33-27 early in the second half before Purdue went on a run. A 3-pointer by Moore and a putback by Hummel cut the Buckeyes' lead to one point, then Johnson tied the game by making the second of two free throws with 15:44 to play.
Purdue finally took the lead on a 3-pointer by Moore that made it 43-41 with just over 12 minutes left. Another three by Moore fewer than two minutes later made it 48-41.
Ohio State chipped away, and a free throw by Turner trimmed Purdue's advantage to 58-55 with 1:33 left. Purdue's Moore shot a 3-pointer and missed, but Purdue rebounded and got a new shot clock. Keaton Grant made a three with 42.2 seconds to play to make it 61-55, and the Purdue fans started to celebrate.
Moore missed a free throw, then Turner converted a 3-point play at the other end to make it 61-58 with 16.7 seconds remaining.
Kramer was fouled with 14.7 seconds left and made both free throws to extend Purdue's lead to 63-58. Buford's three at the other end missed, then Kramer rebounded and made two more free throws to end the threat.
"Purdue is a great team, and they just came out in the second half and got us," Ohio State guard P.J. Hill said. "It happens."
The Buckeyes are excited to have reached the NCAA tournament this season after settling for winning the National Invitational Tournament title last year.
"It's just an amazing accomplishment," Turner said. "You kind of want to pat yourself on the back for a second. We're just really excited. We're fortunate enough to be in this position."