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After slow start, Purdue routs Northwestern

Mar 1, 2008 - 11:51 PM WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana (Ticker) -- Purdue had all kinds of trouble figuring out Northwestern's 1-3-1 zone in the first half. After the intermission, the Boilermakers woke up and played like a team challenging for a conference title.

Freshman Robbie Hummel scored 15 points as No. 19 Purdue shook off a sluggish first half to rout Northwestern, 68-43, in a Big Ten Conference contest on Saturday.

After struggling to a 24-23 halftime lead, Purdue (23-6, 14-2 Big Ten) outscored the lowly Wildcats, 44-20, in the second half.

The win pulled the Boilermakers into a first-place tie with Wisconsin in the Big Ten - one-half game ahead of Indiana (13-2). The Hoosiers can create a three-way tie atop the conference with a week remaining by beating Michigan State on Sunday.

"I thought we did a better job of getting loose balls and rebounding (in the second half)," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We put pressure on the ball and then we were able to get those loose balls. We were fortunate to be in the position we were at halftime."

Purdue trailed by just one at the half despite shooting only 30 percent (7-of-23) in the opening 20 minutes.

"We tried to find them (open players) in the first half, but it was difficult to make the pass," Painter added. "The guys just didn't do a good job getting the ball to the corners."

The second half was a different story as Purdue shot 62 percent, making 13-of-21 shots.

Ivan Peljusic scored 13 points for Northwestern (8-19, 1-15), which shot only 39.5 percent (17-of-43).

"I thought Purdue was a little out of whack in the first half," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. "They just showed why they're near the top of the conference."

Northwestern was coming off its first Big Ten win of the season on Tuesday, a 62-60 victory over Michigan, and Hummel insisted Purdue did not take the Wildcats lightly.

"I don't think so at all," he said. "They played very well against Michigan, should have beat Iowa and they played Indiana tough."

Northwestern took a 29-28 lead on Craig Moore's 3-pointer with 17:03 remaining, but freshman E'Twaun Moore answered with a 3-pointer of his own to put Purdue ahead for good. It started a 14-1 run that gave the Boilermakers a 42-30 lead on Marcus Green's jumper with 13:29 remaining.

The Wildcats got the deficit under double figures when Kevin Coble hit a jumper to make it 43-34 with 12:25 to play. But Purdue put away the contest with a 7-0 spurt, grabbing a 50-34 cushion on Scott Martin's jumper with 9:22 left.

Nemanja Calasan scored 11 points and Martin added 10 off the bench for Purdue, which has won two straight since its 77-68 loss at Indiana on February 19.

The Boilermakers finished 9-0 at home against conference opponents. They closed the regular season with road games at Ohio State and Michigan.

"It feels great that we were able to beat all the Big Ten teams that came in here," Hummel said. "I think it's a great accomplishment but we can't be satisfied with that."