The Wildcats dominated on the boards, holding a 42-23 advantage.In front of an exuberant, sellout crowd, the Wildcats and the Boilermakers treated those in attendance to a thriller.
NU (13-4, 2-3 Big Ten) didn't get its first field goal until the 14:25 mark of the first half, but the Wildcats were able to settle in and used a 12-0 run to turn a four-point deficit into an eight-point lead, 22-14, with five minutes remaining. Thompson started the spurt with back-to-back 3-pointers en route to 10 first-half points.Purdue (14-3, 2-3) would eventually rally back within 26-25 at the intermission. Northwestern had a 24-12 rebounding advantage at the break, but the Boilermakers were able to hang around thanks to forcing nine Wildcat turnovers while committing only one themselves.
Six straight points out of the gates extended NU's lead to seven, but Purdue rallied back to tie the score at 44 on a three-point play by E'Twaun Moore with 10:28 remaining. From there, the teams battled back-and-forth.With the Wildcats trailing 50-48, Crawford came to life. He drilled a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to give NU a one-point lead with 6:48 to go. The Northwestern advantage was still one with 2:05 remaining when Crawford knocked down another clutch shot from beyond the arch to stretch the advantage to four.
Following a stop at the other end, Crawford drove from just left of the top of the key down the lane and got to the rim where he converted a lay-up and drew a foul as part of a three-point play to stretch the Wildcat lead to 64-57 with 1:31 to go.Purdue would get no closer than six the rest of the way as the Wildcats earned their first win over such a highly ranked opponent since defeated No. 4 Michigan State 83-65 Jan. 27, 1979.
Northwestern shot 56.5 percent (13-23) from the field in the second half and 45.7 percent for the game to 35.6 percent for the Boilermakers. After struggling from the free throw line against No. 13 Wisconsin Wednesday night, NU converted on 26 of 30 attempts from the charity stripe Saturday.The Wildcats return to action at 6 p.m. Central time Tuesday when they travel to Ohio State.