In Andre Curbelo’s comeback, Zach Edey and Purdue win a double-overtime thriller over Illinois
No. 4 Purdue beat No. 17 Illinois 96-88 in double overtime in one of the most exciting men’s basketball games of the season, which featured some of the sport’s finest players sharing the same floor in a game that started off at noon Eastern on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Everything you need to know about Monday’s game is right here.
It’s not often in college basketball that the numbers next to a team’s name change between halftime and the start of the pregame show.
When the newest AP Top 25 votes were combined with last week’s results, a game projected to be No. 7 vs. No. 25 just got a little bit better. It is now No. 4 versus No. 17.
The two Big Ten rivals were ranked No. 9 and No. 10 in Monday’s revised NET rankings, with Purdue holding a one-spot advantage.
The Battle of the Titans
Some of the country’s top big men faced off in the season’s first meeting between near Big Ten rivals Purdue and Illinois, and the home crowd relished it. The audience erupted as Cockburn, who stands at 7 feet and 285 pounds, held his ground defensively against Edey, who is at 7-4 and 295 pounds.
According to kenpom.com, Cockburn was third in the country in rebounding (12.3 per game) and fifth in scoring (21.9 points per game), while Purdue’s Edey and Trevion Williams were first and fourth in the country in offensive rebounding percentage.
Illinois’ frontcourt was defeated by Edey and, to a lesser degree, Williams. Cockburn fouled out after 22 minutes of play with 10 points and five rebounds, but reserve center Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk came through beautifully when called upon late in the regular and overtime.
After sustaining a concussion in the fall, Andre Curbelo, the explosive sophomore guard, has not played for Illinois since Nov. 23, 2021. He was a freshman running back for Ayo Dosunmu, a first-team All-American who averaged 9.1 points, 4.2 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game in his debut season of collegiate basketball. Curbelo was expected to be one of the season’s breakthrough players when Dosunmu was traded to the Chicago Bulls and former classmate Adam Miller transferred to LSU, but his injury prevented him from doing so.
On Monday, Curbelo returned to the court on Monday and had a career-high 20 points, six rebounds, and three assists off the bench, which was a promising indication for his health and Illinois’ relatively tiny guard with a pretty huge game. Given Cockburn’s foul problems and the explosiveness of a Purdue attack that entered the game rated second nationally in offensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com, this was extremely important.
With Curbelo on the bench, Illinois had an unbeaten start in Big Ten play and had risen to the top of the AP polls.Now that he’s healthy enough to play — and if Monday’s performance is any indication — Illinois will be firmly in contention for the Big Ten regular-season championship it narrowly missed out on last season.
Purdue 96, Illinois 88, according to the box score (2OT).
Nine players scored in double figures, including four who went over the 20-point mark.
The entire box score may be seen here. Scroll to the right to see all of the tables below, if necessary.
Here’s how the game came to a close.
Purdue led by as many as 13 points in the game—Trevion Williams’ basket with 30 seconds left in the first half put the Boilermakers up 37-24—but Illinois rallied back, tying the game at 49 after Alfonso Plummer sank a pair of free throws nearly precisely 10 minutes into the game.
Purdue had the better of the game for the most part, with Illinois only leading for around two minutes in regulation and a 24-23 edge at halftime. Curbelo tied the game at 69 and forced overtime in the last minute, erasing Purdue’s four-point advantage with a jumper and then a layup.
At the conclusion of the first overtime period, Curbelo almost fumbled the ball out of bounds in front of his own bench, but he retrieved it, and as three Purdue players crowded around him, he found teammate Plummer free under the rim for a game-tying layup. Plummer, one of the greatest and most reliant 3-point shooters in the nation, was 5-for-10 from long range at the time, so it was a rare 2-pointer, just his second of the game.
The two top-25 teams headed to a second overtime session after Ivey’s potential game-winning pull-up 3-pointer was off the mark.
Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic made a 3-pointer and then nailed a pair of free throws on the team’s following offensive possession after each team failed to score on its opening offensive possession of the second overtime. Purdue pulled away in the second overtime, making nine free throws to win by eight points, with Eric Hunter Jr. scoring eight of the team’s next nine points.
What impact does this have on the Big Ten standings?
Illinois is still atop the Big Ten rankings after Monday’s dramatic conclusion, despite having a blemish on its conference record. Illinois was previously in first place and was perfect in conference play at 6-0. Purdue, which was 3-2 in Big Ten play following defeats to Rutgers and Wisconsin while being rated in the top five in the AP poll, is now tied for fifth place with Rutgers with a 4-2 record.
Purdue and Illinois will play again in about three weeks, on Thursday, February 10th, when Purdue hosts Illinois.