By The Associated Press
E'Twaun Moore has been a solid contributor for Purdue throughout the Big Ten season, averaging 10.4 points per game.
In the last two weeks, Purdue head coach Matt Painter said Moore has become more comfortable on the court, and the result Saturday was a career-high 24-point performance on 10-of-12 shooting. Moore scored 20 points in the second half to lead Purdue to its seventh-straight win to defeat Illinois 83-75 at Assembly Hall.
In other Big Ten games Saturday, Penn State upset visiting Michigan State 85-76, and Iowa had a 53-48 home-court win over Ohio State.
Sunday's games saw Northwestern at Indiana and Wisconsin at Minnesota.
Moore's performance at Champaign even caught the eye of Illinois head coach Bruce Weber.
"I've seen him play well, but not like that; that was special," Weber said of Moore. "For a freshman to come in during the gut-check part of the game and make shots like that, it was impressive."
Illinois (10-13, 2-8) tried to overcome its eight-point halftime deficit with a spirited 10-3 run early in the second half, but Moore was there to answer every time. Moore's 3-pointer with 5:38 remaining capped off a personal streak of seven straight points and put Purdue up 69-59.
Illinois would never get closer than seven points the rest of the way. Brian Randle scored a career-high 21 points for the Illini, who have lost nine of their last 11 games, including a 51-41 loss at No.8 Michigan State on Wednesday.
"It might as well be zero points to be honest; I'm just concerned with wins," Randle said. Shaun Pruitt scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds, and Demetri McCamey had 15 points.
Purdue shot 49.0 percent from the field on 24-of-49 shooting, while Illinois managed 50.0 percent on 21-of-42 shooting. But once again, Illinois' inability to make free throws was a factor, even as they managed a season-high 73.2 percent on 30-of-41 attempts.
Later, Penn State's youngsters passed a stiff test at the free-throw line and got a huge reward.
Stanley Pringle scored 19 points and Penn State went 16-of-20 from the foul line in the game's final four minutes to upend No. 8 Michigan State and snap the Spartans' five-game winning streak.
Talor Battle had 17 points and David Jackson added nine -- all from the free throw line -- as the Nittany Lions scored their first win over a ranked team in two years.
No wonder fans rushed the court after the final buzzer sounded at the Jordan Center.
The Nittany Lions faithful will remember this game for a while. Penn State came into the night on a six-game losing streak and seemed like big underdogs to defeat one of the Big Ten's best teams, even in Happy Valley.
The odds were stacked against Penn State, especially without forward Geary Claxton, who was lost to a season-ending knee injury last month. Penn State (11-10, 3-6 Big Ten) has had trouble scoring since then, and failed to hit a field goal the last seven minutes against the Spartans.
Things looked bleak for Penn State after they squandered a 10-point advantage midway through the second half when Kalin Lucas darted through the lane for a bucket to give Michigan State (19-3, 7-2) a 60-58 lead.
But the Nittany Lions found relief through unlikely means -- on the foul line, where Penn State had shot just 59 percent entering Saturday.
Meanwhile, Iowa's Justin Johnson didn't even bother attempting a shot from inside the 3-point line. The way he was shooting, he didn't have to.
Johnson scored 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting -- all from 3-point range -- as Iowa beat Ohio State to snap the Buckeyes' three-game winning streak.
Seth Gorney added 10 points for the Hawkeyes (11-12, 4-6 Big Ten), who suffered a 31-point loss to Ohio State back on Jan. 9. Iowa answered back, thanks to Johnson's strong performance and a defense that played much better than it did last time. The Hawkeyes held Ohio State to 37.5 percent shooting from the floor.
That loss in Columbus, by far Iowa's worst of the season, did a number on the Hawkeyes' psyche. But they've since won four of their last seven and are within striking distance of .500 in league play. That would be quite an accomplishment for a team picked to finish ninth in the Big Ten.