EVANSTON, Ill. – In a season marked by early growing pains for a young team, the Boilermakers ended up where few predicted they would after a 6-5 start: at the mountaintop of one of the toughest conferences in the country.
No. 11-ranked Purdue won 70-57 at Northwestern Saturday afternoon to clinch a share of the Big Ten Conference regular season championship.The championship is the 24th title all-time, the most in Big Ten history.
The win gives Purdue (23-8, 16-4) an impressive 6-4 record in conference road games. The season changed after a loss to Notre Dame in mid-December, as the Boilermakers enter the Big Ten Tournament with a 17-3 record over its last 20 games, turning the corner on a rough start.
Northwestern got out to a 3-0 lead, but never seriously threatened taking the lead back after the Boilermakers went on a 10-0 run fueled by a pair of layups from Nojel Eastern and a pair of 3-pointers from Carsen Edwards. Another 10-0 run late in the first half paved the way for a 33-25 lead going into halftime.
Edwards, Eastern and Matt Haarms accounted for 30 of the 37 Purdue points after halftime, as the Boilermakers withstood a Northwestern run midway through the second half that cut the lead to 54-47 with 9:10 to play. Eastern and Haarms quickly made a couple layups each, including an and-one conversion from the Evanston-native Eastern, to seal the win and championship.
Purdue dominated on the glass throughout the contest, outrebounding the Wildcats 37-26 and outscoring them on second-chance points 17-0. Edwards posted game-highs in points (21) and assists (five) to go along with five rebounds. Eastern put up a career-best 15 points, five rebounds and three assists in his homecoming, while Haarms contributed 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Purdue clinches a No. 2 seed for the Big Ten Tournament and will play in the quarterfinals on Friday night against the winner of the game between the No. 7 and No. 10 seeds. The game will tipoff at 7 p.m. ET, and be televised on BTN.
Purdue improved to 23-8 overall and 16-4 in the Big Ten Conference with a 70-57 win over Northwestern … the win was Purdue’s 17th in the last 20 games after starting the season 6-5.
The win enabled Purdue to win its 24th Big Ten Championship, the most in the league’s history … Purdue became the first team with two titles in three seasons since Ohio State in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and Michigan State in 2010 and 2012.
Matt Painter won his third Big Ten regular-season championship (2010, 2017, 2019) … depending on the outcome of Michigan State vs. Michigan tonight, Purdue will share the lead for the most Big Ten titles in the decade (Michigan State could win its fourth).
Purdue’s 16 Big Ten wins tied a school record and gave Purdue 45 league wins over the last three years, the third most in league history (48 by Indiana in 1974-76; 46 by Indiana in 1991-93).
Matt Painter moved into 10th place on the Big Ten all-time wins list (league games) with 158 victories.
Purdue’s senior class has 106 wins, one shy of the school-record 107 victories by the Class of 2011.
Nojel Eastern scored a career-high 15 points with five rebounds and three assists.
Carsen Edwards became Purdue’s career leader in 3-pointers made with 252 … he finished with 21 points, five rebounds and five assists … Edwards will finish the season as the Big Ten’s leading scorer at 21.4 points per game … it marks the third time since the 2010-11 season that a Purdue player has led the league in scoring; no other team has done it more than once.
Matt Haarms finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks and will likely become the first player since Ohio State’s Greg Oden in 2007 to lead the league in field goal percentage (.636) and blocked shots (2.4 bpg).