CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) -- Dee Brown continued Illinois' quest for a perfect season with a bang.
Brown tied a school record with eight 3-pointers en route to a career-high 27 points as top-ranked Illinois moved within one game of an undefeated regular season with an 84-50 victory over Purdue in a Big Ten Conference matchup.
Already the top seed in the upcoming conference tournament, the Fighting Illini (29-0, 15-0 Big Ten) shot 54 percent (27-of-50) and tied a season high with 15 3-pointers to extend their home winning streak to 21 games and conference run to 25. They are 26-1 at home under coach Bruce Weber.
Brown capped an amazing opening half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, propeling Illinois to a 50-26 lead. The junior guard finished the opening 20 minutes with 24 points, going 7-of-9 from the arc.
"It was amazing," Weber said. "He was in such a rhythm. He got the ball, released and swish. Whenever he shot it, you thought it was going in."
The Illini also capitalized on the sloppy play of the Boilermakers, scoring 19 points off 12 first-half turnovers. Behind the savvy playmaking of Deron Williams, Brown and Luther Head, Illinois had just two giveaways against 14 assists in the opening 20 minutes.
"(Williams) just takes care of business, takes care of the ball and gets us into our offense," Weber said. "He was quick with the ball, we thought we could push it on them and wear them down."
After making 6-of-8 3-pointers in an 84-48 victory over Northwestern on February 23, Brown connected on 8-of-10 from long range here, raising his season percentage to 48.8 percent (80-of-164). He tied the school mark set by Kevin Turner, who made eight 3-pointers at UCLA on December 30, 1997.
Williams, who made three of his four 3-point attempts in the first half, scored 21 points and handed out six assists without committing a turnover. Head, who was honored during senior night, chipped in 11 and six assists for the Illini, who finished with 21 assists on 27 baskets.
Fellow senior Roger Powell scored five points and Nick Smith and Jack Ingram - also seniors - added four each for Illinois, which is four wins shy of becoming the first team since UNLV in 1990-91 to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated.
"The seniors have been key and I have said all along, we are only as successful as our seniors," Weber said.
Gary Ware scored 12 points and Matt Kiefer and Charles Davis added 10 apiece for Purdue (7-19, 3-12), which shot just 32 percent (20-of-62) and reached the free-throw line just four times.
"We played pretty good defense and they had to get late shots as the shot clock ran down several times," Weber said. "The only negative was the rebounding, and some of that was because we are out pressuring, maybe cherry-picking a little bit."
With no player having more than five rebounds, Illinois was outclassed on the boards, 37-31. The Boilermakers finished with 14 offensive rebounds to just four for the Illini.
Illinois, which needs two more wins to tie the 1974-75 Indiana club for the second best start in Big Ten history, will complete its regular season at Ohio State on Sunday.