WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana (Ticker) -- An ugly Big Ten Conference contest had a beautiful result for Purdue.
Kenneth Lowe scored 23 points as the 25th-ranked Boilermakers maintained their position atop the Big Ten Conference standings with a 70-61 victory over No. 13 Illinois.
Purdue (16-6, 8-3 Big Ten) remained in a first-place tie with Wisconsin and Michigan after its 14th straight home win snapped a two-game overall skid. It came in a poor-shooting affair that featured lengthy scoring droughts by both teams.
"It's nice to get back in the win column," Purdue coach Gene Keady said. "Everyone off our bench did a good job of coming out tonight. I think we're playing as good as anyone in the country right now. I want to win a championships again and get a good spot in the NCAA Tournament."
The Boilermakers rallied from an early 11-2 deficit by holding the Fighting Illini scoreless for nearly five minutes. Purdue took a 35-32 lead at halftime.
A 13-3 run gave Purdue a 50-39 lead following two free throws by Lowe with 10:49 remaining. But the Boilermakers had just two baskets over the next nine minutes to give the Illini a chance at a comeback.
Illinois pulled within 56-53 on a 3-pointer by freshman Deron Williams with two minutes left. Purdue's Willie Deane was fouled on the play by James Augustine and made two foul shots. Deane was fouled after stealing the inbounds and drained two more for a 60-53 cushion.
"Illinois was the best team in the league as far as defense," Lowe said. "They were holding teams to about 25 percent from the 3-point line. It was a must-win coming back here, especially after two losses."
The Fighting Illini fell into a tie for fourth place in the conference with idle Minnesota. The top five teams are 27-1 at home in Big Ten play.
Lowe made 13-of-15 free throws as Purdue took advantage of a healthy advantage at the line by shooting 81 percent (29-of-36). The Boilermakers were just 39 percent (19-of-49) from the floor.
"Kenny has enthusiasm and defensive intensity," Keady said. "He is very hard to shut down when he gets cooking."
However, Illinois also shot 39 percent (22-of-57), had 19 turnovers and had three players foul out. The effort came in one that Illinois coach Bill Self described earlier in the week as the "biggest of the season."
Lowe's effort at the line helped on a night when Purdue's stars struggled from the floor. Chris Booker made 1-of-8 shots, Deane made 1-of-6 and Darmetreis Kilgore missed all four shots in a stomach-turning performance.
But the Fighting Illini's ballhandling woes resulted in 23 points for the Boilermakers. Reserve Brandon McKnight scored 10 points for Purdue, which held a 23-12 advantage in bench points.
"(Purdue's) young guys did a great job tonight," Self said. "They all made several good plays, and we could not score in the second half. We let Purdue's pressure bother us. For the first time this year we got frazzled, especially late in the game."
Brian Cook scored 20 points to lead Illinois, but he received little help from his teammates. Augustine fouled out with nine points and fellow freshman Dee Brown made just 2-of-10 shots and finished with six.
Illinois made just 6-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc and matched its lowest point total of the season.