Our breakdown of Purdue's 68-61 win against Illinois in Wednesday's Big Ten opener at Mackey Arena:
Player of the Game: Purdue’s D.J. Byrd
Hey D.J., the 1950s called, they want their haircut back. He looks like an extra from Hoosiers, but he hadn’t been shooting like Jimmy Chitwood. Until Illinois arrived Wednesday. The hustling Byrd hit four three-pointers and had a critical rebound in the final seconds.
Purdue A, Illinois C
Not only did Terone Johnson bother Brandon Paul’s offense, he scored a game-high 25 points himself. Throw in nine rebounds and he could have been POTG. Paul hit a couple of big three-pointers in the final minutes, but more important were four turnovers. Tracy Abrams followed his career game against Auburn with a decent performance.
Purdue C+, Illinois C+
Hats off again to Nnanna Egwu, who didn’t add much offense, but got in the Boilermaker heads with five blocked shots. Do that every night and the rest of the league will be talking. Jacob Lawson made good use of his 22 minutes, with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Purdue C-. Illinois B-
Sure, Joseph Bertrand scored 14 points. But it took him 15 shots to do it. Sam McLaurin is the only other Illini to score off the bench, hitting a pair of free throws. Boilermakers didn’t add many points (nine) but did a solid job on the glass (11 rebounds).
Purdue A-, Illinois C-
Welcome to the Big Ten, John Groce. Going in, it looked like a chance for an easy win. But they are never easy for Illinois at Mackey Arena. Mustering their inner-Brian Cardinal, the Boilermakers looked an NCAA tournament team. For a night. Hard to believe they were 6-6 going in.