CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – JaJuan Johnson scored 24 points and E'Twaun Moore added 20 to lead No. 14 Purdue to an 81-70 comeback win over Illinois on Sunday.
Purdue (20-5, 9-3 Big Ten) survived a first half of 28.6 percent shooting to trail only 32-27 at the break. Then the Boilermakers caught fire, scoring 54 second-half points and outrebounding the Illini 28-9 over the final 20 minutes.
The Boilermakers started their second-half push with a 10-4 run that gave them just their second lead of the afternoon, but one they'd make stick.
Moore hit a 3-pointer with 16:05 to go that put Purdue up 37-36 and left the Illini (16-9, 6-6) behind for good.
Mike Davis hit a pair of free throws with 12:48 to play to cut Purdue's lead to 45-44. But Terone Johnson hit a 3-pointer 23 seconds later, and Ryne Smith followed that with a layup that made the score 50-44.
A minute later, with Illinois back to within 50-46, Smith and point guard Lewis Jackson combined for what might have been the offensive play of the game, and one that took the life out of the Illini crowd.
Jackson dribbled across the lane and spotted Smith open near the top of the key. Smith hit a 3-pointer for a 53-46 lead.
Illinois pulled to within 69-63 on Demetri McCamey's two free throws with 2:51 to play. But Kelsey Barlow answered with a dunk at the other end.
Illinois, led by Brandon Paul, went on a 14-6 run after Purdue briefly took the lead midway through the first half. Paul scored 12 of his 14 first-half points during that run, capped by a smooth 10-foot turnaround jumper.
While Paul put the Illini back in front, Davis kept them there in the final 4½ minutes of the half, scoring Illinois' last eight points.
The last two, with 53 seconds left, came on a two-handed fast-break dunk, fed by Jereme Richmond. It lit a fire under the crowd and gave Illinois a 32-25 lead.
After one early air ball, Purdue coach Matt Painter looked at Johnson in disbelief as he ran back up court, stretching his arms out to his sides as if to say, "What was that?"
Illinois was led by Paul's 23 points. Davis added 16 and D.J. Richardson had 13. McCamey finished with just four points.