CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 17: Meyers Leonard #12 of the Illinois Fighting Illini grabs a rebound against the UNLV Rebels at United Center on December 17, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. UNLV defeated Illinois 64-48. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Illinois Vs. Purdue Recap: Fighting Illini Fall To 1-1 In Big Ten Conference

The Illinois Fighting Illini (12-3, 1-1) finished out 2011 with a loss to the Purdue Boilermakers (12-3, 2-0) on Saturday afternoon.

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Illinois Vs. Purdue Recap: Rough Second Half Dooms Fighting Illini, Boilermakers Win 60-75

The Illinois Fighting Illini (12-3, 1-1), behind by only 2 points at the half, lost control in the second half as the Purdue Boilermakers (12-3, 2-0) pulled away for a 60-75 win.

The Fighting Illini, fresh off their disappearance from the Top 25 polls, played strong defense through the first half, limiting the Boilermakers -- who are averaging over 74 points per game -- to just 26 at the first half. C Meyers Leonard (7 pts) and G D.J. Richardson (15 pts) led the Illinois defense, finishing the game with 6 rebounds each, while G Brandon Paul -- who led the team with 17 points -- also added a whopping 5 steals to the defensive effort.

Unfortunately for the Illini, the Boilermakers dominated early in the second half, taking a 29-34 game to 29-52 on an 18-point run. The Boilermakers shot 52.9% on their three-point attempts, with G Ryne Smith going 4 for 5 on three pointers, finishing the game with 12 points. G Kelsey Barlow also tacked on another 14 points, leading the Purdue offensive attack.

The Illini will be back in action on the other side of the new year, visiting the Northwestern Wildcats on Wednesday, January 4.

Keep tabs on SB Nation Chicago for all game updates. For more on the Fighting Illini, check out Hail to the Orange.. For more on Purdue, head over to Hammer and Rails.

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