WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — When Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas are in sync, it’s difficult trying to name a better power forward-center combination in college basketball.
No. 21 Purdue’s two interior players certainly were in sync on Tuesday night against outmanned Illinois.
Haas had 24 points and six rebounds, and power forward Swanigan added 22 points and 10 rebounds in the Boilermakers’ dominating 91-68 victory.
Haas scored 13 points in the second half when the Boilermakers (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten) led by as many as 27. Swanigan had a four-point first half but was almost unstoppable during the second half, accounting for 18 points and five rebounds.
“It was Illinois’ game plan not to double us,” Swanigan said. “You could hear their coaches yelling to them to pressure the ball. That was their game plan, and we had success with it.”
Purdue placed five players in double figures, also getting 14 from freshman guard Carsen Edwards, 11 from forward Vince Edwards — no relation — and 10 from point guard P.J. Thompson.
“We have to have balance, and we did that tonight,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “When Isaac got the ball deep like he did tonight, that’s hard to stop. When Isaac is good and efficient, it really puts the other team in a bind.”
Illinois (12-7, 2-4) got 15 points from Maverick Morgan and 12 from Malcolm Hill but had no answer for the Boilermakers’ two post players, each of whom had his way around the basket.
With this victory, Purdue leads the all-time series with Illinois, 100-87.
Purdue made 9 of its first 14 field goal attempts, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, built a 19-5 lead with 13:01 to play in the first half and led 44-30 through 20 minutes, shooting 60 percent from the field (15 of 25).
“With that team, you kind of have to pick your poison,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “They have two great post players, and then they surround them with good shooters. We let them get loose from 3 early, and the 3-point line got them out front and eventually into a double-digit lead.”
Haas was grateful for the 3-point help.
“I don’t think the 3-point success made the game easy, but it gave us confidence and definitely let us get our heads up,” Haas said. “It wasn’t like we were taking contested 1-on-1 shots. We were moving the ball and getting open looks.”
Carsen Edwards had 12 first-half points for Purdue, and Haas had 11. The two were a combined 9 of 10 from the field before halftime. The Boilermakers outrebounded Illinois 20-13 during the opening 20 minutes, although they did not get a single offensive rebound.