CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Purdue has won 14 of the last 17 meetings between the Boilermakers and Illini, including the last four. What can Illinois do to end that skid? Marlee Wierda has a LIVE pregame report.
Illinois has been shooting as much as they can in the gym since their loss at Michigan State. They’re sticking to their mindset, “just keep shooting” in hopes that the shots will eventually fall. They will need them Sunday night against Purdue.
Matt Haarms poses a big threat to the Illini, he’s averaging 12 points and six rebounds per game. Purdue comes in with quality wins, they’ve beaten two ranked opponents this season, but they do struggle on the road, and the Illini are hoping to capitalize on the opportunity.
“You gotta take advantage of having a home court in the Big Ten. It’s really hard to win on the road, so that’s the same for the Purdue team, they come in on the road to win, and it’s really hard for them so we have to take advantage of that,” Giorgi Bezhanishvili said.
“When you’re away you have to look to your teammates, that’s your energy right there,” Alan Griffin said. “Everybody, the coaching staff, that’s the energy right there. And when you’re home obviously you got the fans.”
Illinois is 8-1 in the State Farm Center this season, that includes a nine point win over Michigan.
Griffin has been an instant spark for the Illini off the bench lately, scoring more than 14 points per game over the last four, while shooting 50% from the field. But don’t expect to see him in the starting lineup, Brad Underwood said on Saturday that he likes what Griffin gives the team off the bench.
Several key players have been shooting less than 30% from the field, while Griffin has started to find his groove.
“He has tremendous energy, you’re bringing a high-motor guy off the bench, who’s also capable of making a lot of shots, and making baskets, and that’s the productivity that I’m really excited about, and you bring him with Dre, Kip, Tev, you bring those guys off the bench, we’re starting to feel like we’re getting some productivity on the offensive end,” Underwood said.
Tip off is at 7:00, on FS1.