Playing in a game that tipped off at noon Eastern on Monday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, No. 4 Purdue edged No. 17 Illinois on the road, 96-88, in double overtime in one of the most thrilling men's basketball games of the season, which featured some of the sport's best players sharing the same court.
Here's everything you need to know about Monday's game.
Rising in the rankings
It's not often in college basketball that the numbers next to a school's name can change sometime between the time the pregame show starts to halftime.
The latest AP Top 25 poll dropped around the game's tip-off, which meant that a game scheduled to be No. 7 versus No. 25 just got a little bit better, now No. 4 versus No. 17, when the latest AP ballots were counted with last week's results.
In Monday's updated NET rankings, the two Big Ten foes checked in at consecutive spots at No. 9 and No. 10, with Purdue having a one-spot edge.
Battle of the bigs
In the season's first meeting between relative Big Ten neighbors Purdue and Illinois, some of the country's best big men squared off and the home crowd embraced it. On one of the game's earliest possessions when Cockburn, 7-feet and 285 pounds, held his ground defensively against Edey, listed at 7-4 and 295 pounds, the crowd roared.
Cockburn entered the afternoon ranked third nationally in rebounding average (12.3 per game) and fifth in scoring average at 21.9 points per game, while Purdue's Edey and Trevion Williams ranked first and fourth in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, per kenpom.com.
Edey, and to a lesser extent Williams, got the better of Illinois' froncourt. Cockburn fouled out with 10 points and five rebounds in 22 minutes played, but reserve forward Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk performed admirably when called into action late in regulation and in overtime.
Andre Curbelo's impressive return
Andre Curbelo, the electric sophomore guard, hadn't played for Illinois since Nov. 23, 2021 after suffering a concussion in the fall. As a freshman, he had served as first-team All-American Ayo Dosunmu's runningmate, one who averaged 9.1 points, 4.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game in his first season of college basketball. With Dosunmu off to the Chicago Bulls and former classmate Adam Miller transferring to LSU, Curbelo was projected by many to be one of this season's breakout players, but his concussion prevented him from taking such a leap.
In what was a great sign for Curbelo's health and Illinois' relatively small guard who has a relatively big game, he returned to the floor on Monday and posted a career-high 20-point, six-rebound, three-assist stat line off the bench. This was especially critical given Cockburn's foul trouble and the explosiveness of a Purdue offense that entered the game ranked second nationally in offensive efficiency, per kenpom.com.
Illinois had gotten off to an undefeated start in Big Ten play and climbed into the AP poll with Curbelo on the sideline. Now with him healthy enough to play — and if Monday's performance was a sign of things to come — then Illinois will be firmly in contention for a Big Ten regular-season championship that it so narrowly missed out on last season.
Box score: Purdue 96, Illinois 88 (2OT)
The game featured nine double-figure scorers, including four who broached the 20-point mark.
Here's the complete box score. If needed, scroll to the right to view the entire tables below.
|Eric Hunter Jr.||11||3-4||1-1||4-4||0||2||2||2||0||0||1||1|
Here's how the game ended
Purdue led by as many as 13 points in the game — Trevion Williams' basket with 30 seconds to play in the first half but the Boilermakers up 37-24 — but Illinois fought back, tying the game at 49-all almost exactly 10 minutes of game action later, when Alfonso Plummer hit a pair of free throws.
Purdue generally controlled the game, with Illinois only leading for roughly two minutes in regulation, with its final lead in the opening 40 minutes being a 24-23 advantage in the first half. It was Curbelo who eliminated Purdue's four-point lead in the final minute, first with a jumper, then a layup, tying the game at 69 and forcing overtime.
At the end of the first overtime, Curbelo nearly lost the ball out of bounds in front of his own team's bench, but he saved it, and as three Purdue defenders collapsed around him, he found teammate Plummer open under the basket for a game-tying layup. For Plummer, one of the best and most dependent 3-point shooters in the country and a player who was 5-for-10 from deep at that point in the game, it was a rare 2-pointer, just his second of the game.
When Ivey's potential game-winning, pull-up 3-pointer was off the mark, the two top-25 teams went to a second overtime period.
After each team failed to score on its first offensive possession of the second overtime, Purdue's Sasha Stefanovic hit a 3-pointer, then hit a pair of free throws on the team's next possession. Eric Hunter Jr. scored eight of the team's next nine points as Purdue pulled away in the second overtime, when it made nine free throws to win by eight.
What does the result mean for the Big Ten standings?
After Monday's thrilling finish, Illinois, previously in first place and undefeated in conference play at 6-0, is still atop the Big Ten standings, although it now has a blemish in its conference record. Purdue, which despite now being ranked in the top five of the AP poll, was just 3-2 in Big Ten play after losses to Rutgers and Wisconsin, is now tied with Rutgers for fifth place in the conference with a 4-2 mark.
The two schools will meet again in roughly three weeks, when Purdue hosts Illinois on Thursday, Feb. 10.