Trivia Link: Who is Purdue's all-time leading rebounder?
Dec. 3, 1997
Kentucky Beats Purdue, 89-75
CHICAGO - Nazr Mohammed scored a season-high 19 points as seventh-ranked Kentucky used an 11-0 burst early in the second half to post an 89-75 victory over number five Purdue in the Great Eight Classic at the United Center in Chicago.
Wayne Turner added 14 points and Jeff Sheppard 11 for Kentucky (5-1), which has won three straight games since losing to Arizona in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational. The Wildcats also topped 80 points for the first time since a season-opening 88-49 victory over Morehead State.
Chad Austin scored 24 points and Mike Robinson added 12 for Purdue (5-2), whose losses have come to top 10 opponents. The Boilermakers lost to North Carolina in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout.
"I'm not happy to say the least," fumed Boilermakers coach Gene Keady. "Teams that don't compete or practice hard or not on my high list. We are a bunch of wannabes that can't play with the big boys, so we've got a lot of work to do. Because right now, we can't compete."
Purdue closed within 42-40 on a three-pointer by Alan Eldridge 28 seconds into the second half, but the Wildcats held Purdue scoreless for the next 4:24 as they took control of the game.
Sheppard drilled a three-pointer and added a fast-break layup around a missed three-pointer by Austin that pushed Kentucky's lead to 47-40. Scott Padgett had a steal that led to a layup by Jamaal Magliore before a steal by Sheppard led to a layup by Turner for a 51-40 bulge. Mohammed capped the spurt with a layup that gave the Wildcats a 53-40 advantage with 15:08 remaining.
The Boilermakers closed within 56-50 at the 11:25 mark following a three-pointer from Gary McQuay, but Kentucky put the game out of reach with a 9-0 tear. Heshimu Evans made two free throws and Magliore followed with a tip-in before Saul Smith drilled a three-pointer from the left corner to give Kentucky a 63-50 lead with 9:27 remaining.
Mohammed capped the run with a tip-in with 8:50 to play. Purdue came no closer than nine points down the stretch.
"I'm pretty happy because this was a big win and we needed it," said Mohammed, a native of Chicago. "We've got some momentum going and we're picking up what coach is trying to teach us. We have a pretty good team because we have a lot of guys who can be the man on any given night. And guys who can step up their games at any time."
Mohammed and Magliore, who rotate at center, combined for 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. They also frustrated Purdue counterpart Brad Miller, who was held to 10 points, almost seven below his average.
Purdue jumped to an early 16-7 lead less than seven minutes into the contest, but the Wildcats scored nine straight points to forge a 16-16 tie after Padgett hit a three-pointer with 11:43 left in the first half.
Kentucky, which received 39 points from its bench, shot 49 percent (31-of-63) from the field and hit 8-of-16 three-point shots. The Wildcats also outscored Purdue in the paint, 42-24.
"We're excited to get a tough win," said first-year Wildcats coach Tubby Smith. "We've got a lot of room for improvment. We need to take care of the basketball better and we need to play better defense because good defense keeps you in most games. We also need to make good decisions and move the ball better."
The Boilermakers, who shot 39 percent (25-of-64) from the field, committed 22 turnovers. Brian Cardinal also netted 12 points for Purdue.