CHICAGO — Mason Gillis had 20 points on 7-for-8 shooting, and No. 5 Purdue held off Rutgers for a rugged 70-65 victory in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday.
With Zach Edey drawing his usual attention inside, the top-seeded Boilermakers (27-5) got a big lift from Gillis and reserve guard David Jenkins Jr. Gillis grabbed nine rebounds and Porter had a season-high 12 points.
The 7-foot-4 Edey finished with 16 points and 11 boards. The Big Ten Player of the Year averaged 21.9 points and 12.8 rebounds during the regular season.
Next up for Purdue is the winner of the second quarterfinal between Ohio State and Michigan State. The Boilermakers are looking for the school’s second Big Ten Tournament title and a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tourney.
Derek Simpson scored 18 points for Rutgers (19-14), which advanced with a 62-50 win against Michigan on Thursday. Cam Spencer had 13 points, and Clifford Omoruyi finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights had won five of their last six meetings with the Boilermakers, including a 65-64 victory at Purdue on Jan. 2. But they struggled to score down the stretch, shooting 40% (14 for 35) from the field in the second half.
After Simpson’s 3-pointer trimmed Purdue’s lead to 50-49 with 8:29 left, Ethan Morton responded with two foul shots for the Boilermakers. Edey then dunked off a pass from Morton and Braden Smith made a jumper to make it 56-49 with 5:40 to go.
Edey added two more free throws and a jumper that lifted Purdue to a 60-52 lead with 3:21 to go.
Bothered by Rutgers’ swarming defense, Purdue got off to a shaky start. The Boilermakers trailed by as many as 12 in the first half before rallying behind Edey and Gillis.
Edey converted two three-point plays – including a vicious jam inside – and Gillis made a 3-pointer in the final seconds, lifting Purdue to a 29-28 halftime lead. Gillis had 10 points at the break on 4-for-4 shooting.
The Scarlet Knights made just four field goals in the last 9:40 of the first half. Paul Mulcahy had a team-high eight points at halftime.
Rutgers fought hard all the way to the very end, but couldn’t catch the experienced Boilermakers.
Purdue struggled down the stretch, splitting its last eight games of the regular season. It’s looking to become the first No. 1 seed to win the Big Ten tourney since 2019.
Rutgers is on the bubble when it comes to an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, but it should have the opportunity to play in the postseason.
Purdue swept each of its two games against Michigan State and Ohio State this season.
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