INDIANAPOLIS -- E'Twaun Moore took advantage of his expanded role in Purdue's offense.
The junior guard tied a career high with 28 points to help Purdue (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) beat Northwestern 69-61 on Friday night in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.
Purdue improved to 3-1 without all-conference forward Robbie Hummel, who is out for the season with a torn ACL in his right knee.
Moore, also an All-Big Ten pick, filled in for some of Hummel's scoring by attacking the basket. He shot just 6-for-16 from the field but made 12-of-17 free throws.
"I just tried to drive the ball strong until someone stopped me," Moore said. "I had to be patiently aggressive."
Purdue will play the winner between No. 11 Michigan State and Minnesota in a semifinal on Saturday.
The Boilermakers remained hopeful of gaining a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
"I've said a 1 to a 3, no matter what happens in the Big Ten tournament and I'll stay with that," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "I don't think we're a 1 seed if we don't win it, but we're somewhere in there. To win it, and a team or two has to stub their toe, probably. If we don't win it, we're going to be a 2 or 3. In my opinion, that's what we deserve."
Moore played a key role in allowing Purdue to remain a contender for a top seed by getting hot in the first half while his teammates struggled. He scored 16 points and shot 4-for-10 from the field in the first half while his teammates shot 4-for-17.
Moore got help from JaJuan Johnson, who had 22 points and eight rebounds for the Boilermakers (27-4). Moore and Johnson were the only Purdue players who scored more than five points.
The Wildcats have never reached the NCAA tournament, and their chances took a hit with the loss.
"That's not really for us to decide," Crawford said. "We're just going out here working hard everyday, working hard in practice. We do what we can on the court, but it's not for us to decide."
Northwestern won the only regular-season meeting between the teams, and the Wildcats looked capable of pulling off another upset. The Wildcats held the Boilermakers to 35 percent shooting, and it took the Boilermakers until midway through the first half to reach double figures in points.
"The key for us was just getting a win, not playing well at all," Purdue guard Chris Kramer said.
Purdue led 62-58 in the final minute when Kramer turned the ball over on a fast-break attempt. Northwestern quickly moved back the other way, and Jeremy Nash made a 3-pointer with 45.8 seconds left to make it 62-61.
Kramer made up for his mistake with a layup on the other end. He was fouled and made the free throw with 36 seconds remaining to give the Boilermakers a 65-61 lead.
"Nash came down and hit that pullup 3, and we took the ball out and we broke the press, got it to JaJuan and I was diving down the middle and JaJuan hit me," Kramer said. "I don't even know how the ball got up to the rim. I don't know how it went in either."
Moore made 4-of-4 free throws in the final 15 seconds to close the game.
Purdue missed 12 of its first 13 field-goal attempts. The Wildcats made 5-of-6 3-pointers to take a 17-6 lead.
The Boilermakers rallied behind Moore and cut their deficit to 34-30 at halftime.
"He killed us in the first half," Crawford said. "They were running a play where he was getting out to the corner and just kind of isolating. He hurt us a lot in the first half and then getting to the line a lot, as well. I think we could have defended him much better as a team."
A three-point play by Keaton Grant in the opening minutes of the second half gave Purdue a 36-34 lead, its first of the game.
The Boilermakers extended that advantage to 45-38 on a turnaround jumper by Johnson with 11 minutes remaining.
"I think that first 10 minutes [of the second half] really was the difference," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. "Credit their defense. We just weren't able to score."
Northwestern trailed 45-41 when the game took a dramatic swing. Johnson made a free throw, and Luka Mirkovic was called for an intentional foul for elbowing Kelsey Barlow in the chin while fighting him for rebounding position. Johnson made the second free throw, and Barlow made the free throw on the intentional foul. Purdue got the ball back, and Johnson was fouled and made two free throws to give the Boilermakers a 50-43 lead.
Northwestern never led again.
"We did a good job of keeping our composure and just staying in the flow of things," Johnson said. "It started working out for us in the second half."