EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Vedran Vukusic scored 21 points and
Northwestern built a big lead before holding off a furious
second-half rally to beat struggling Purdue 67-61 Saturday.
Purdue (5-15, 1-8 Big Ten), which fought its way back from a
20-point deficit in the second half, lost for the ninth time in 10
games and still doesn't have a road win in Gene Keady's 25th and
final season as coach.Carl Landry, the Big Ten's leading scorer at 19 points per game,
led Purdue with 12.T.J. Parker chipped in 18 for Northwestern, which was 22-of-26
from the line compared to only 3-for-5 for the Boilermakers.Northwestern (10-11 3-6) raced to an 11-0 lead in the first four
minutes when the Boilermakers had three turnovers and shot an air
ball.Purdue regrouped and got within four before Northwestern closed
the first half on a 14-4 run that featured eight straight points
from Tim Doyle for a 32-18 halftime lead.The Boilermakers had 14 first-half turnovers -- which
Northwestern converted for 16 points.Vukusic sparked a 10-0 run with two baskets and a 3-pointer to
put the Wildcats up 44-24 with six minutes gone in the second half.
But Purdue mounted an impressive comeback, showing the grit and
determination that characterized Keady teams over the years.Brandon McKnight's three-point play and a jumper by David Teague
with five minutes to go highlighted an 11-0 Purdue run that cut the
lead to 53-48.After two free throws by Vukusic, Purdue's Chris Hartley hit a
3-pointer and it was 55-51. Landry and McKnight made baskets after
three Northwestern free throws to make it 58-55 with just over two
minutes to go.But Vukusic then drove for a basket and saved a ball from going
out of bounds before Northwestern's Mohamed Hachad scored on
another drive, extending the lead back to seven with just over a
minute left.Parker dropped in two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to seal
the win.Both head coaches and their staffs wore sneakers for Coaches vs.
Cancer National Awareness weekend. Most sported white shoes but
Keady had on a fashionable pair of black ones with a yellow design.The retiring coach was presented with a cigar humidor and got a
standing ovation in a pre-game ceremony.Keady was returning after missing the previous game, a loss at
Ohio State, with the flu -- the first game he'd missed in 47 years
of coaching at all levels.