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Men's College Basketball
Preview
Illinois at Purdue
When: 4:30 PM ET, Saturday, March 7, 2015
Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana

Illinois and Purdue head into the final game of the regular season square on the NCAA Tournament bubble and neither can afford another loss when they collide in a Big Ten game Saturday at Purdue. The Boilermakers put themselves on the bubble by losing their last two games to No. 25 Ohio State and Michigan State. Illinois helped its chances with a win Wednesday against visiting Nebraska but the Fighting llini may need more than just a win against Purdue to make the Big Dance.

Purdue’s twin 7-footers, A.J. Hammons and Isaac Hayes, need to bounce back after Hammons shot 3-for-12 in Wednesday’s loss to Michigan State and Hayes collected just two rebounds. Kendall Stephens missed most of the last game against Illinois, a 66-57 win by the Illini on Jan. 21, after aggravating a finger injury, and the team’s leading scorer coming into that game at 11.6 points is averaging 5.9 points in the 12 games since, dropping his season mark to 9.3, fourth on the team. Illinois leading scorer Rayvonte Rice missed the last meeting against the Boilermakers because of a broken hand, but he’s healthy as well.

TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network

ABOUT ILLINOIS (19-11, 9-8 Big Ten): Malcolm Hill scored 18 points in January’s win against Purdue and freshman forward Leron Black finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds, his highest-scoring conference game and only double-double this season. Hill, a 6-6 sophomore guard, seems to have hit a wall with his shooting stroke, connecting on 6-of-28 shots in the last three games, with the low point coming in a 68-60 loss to Iowa on Feb. 25 in which he scored a season-low two points on 1-for-10 from the field. Black has also settled back to earth following his performance against Purdue, scoring four points or less in eight of the next nine games, though he came back with 11 points in Wednesday’s win against Nebraska.

ABOUT PURDUE (19-11, 11-6): Jon Octeus is one of two seniors who will be playing their final game inside Mackey Arena and the only senior who gets regular playing time. The 6-4 guard, who played just one season for the Boilermakers after transferring from Colorado State, has been solid in Big Ten play, averaging 11.2 points compared to 7.5 in nonconference games. He made a season-high seven field goals on 11 attempts against the Illini earlier this season, scoring 14 points.

TIP-INS

1. Illinois leads the nation in free throw shooting percentage at 79.9.

2. Hammons is the first Big Ten player since Herb Williams of Ohio State in 1980 to record 1,000 points, 600 rebounds and 250 blocks by the end of his junior season.

3. All nine of Purdue's Big Ten road games were decided by nine points or less.

PREDICTION: Purdue 67, Illinois 59
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Neutral Day Night Conf
Illinois 19-11 W2 14-2 2-7 3-2 6-5 13-6 9-8
Purdue 19-11 L2 13-3 4-6 2-2 9-5 10-6 11-6
Last Meeting
Illinois Purdue
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
1/21/15 PUR 57 ILL 66 66 37 35.0 57 30 40.0
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Illinois M. Hill 18 41.7 6
Purdue R. Davis 14 46.2 0
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Illinois L. Black 13 6 7
Purdue A. Hammons 7 2 5
Assists Player  
Illinois J. Tate 6
Purdue V. Edwards 6
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Illinois M. Hill 425 44.8 102
Purdue A. Hammons 339 53.0 71
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Illinois N. Egwu 174 70 104
Purdue A. Hammons 190 67 123
Assists Player  
Illinois J. Tate 90
Purdue R. Davis 81
Quickchart Matchup
Illinois Off vs  Purdue Defense
70.3 Points For
64.7 Points Against
42.0 FG%
40.2 FG%
31.7 Reb
27.3 Reb
Purdue Off vs  Illinois Defense
71.1 Points For
62.8 Points Against
45.9 FG%
41.4 FG%
27.3 Reb
31.1 Reb