No. 9 Purdue hopes to have Vincent Edwards vs. Illinois (Feb 21, 2018)

February 21, 2018

Purdue senior forward Vincent Edwards, the No. 9 Boilermakers' second-leading scorer and top rebounder who suffered a sprained ankle injury in practice Saturday, said he is a "game-time decision" to play Thursday at Illinois.

The ankle swelled to twice its size, making Edwards (14.9 points and 7.8 rebounds per game) concerned that he may have suffered a fracture.

"I was just praying it wasn't broke," Edwards told the Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier.

X-rays showed Edwards did not suffer a fracture. He missed Sunday's game against Penn State and has not practiced since sustaining the injury.

Purdue (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten) can earn a share of the conference title if it wins out and Michigan State loses at Wisconsin on Sunday. The Boilermakers are practically locked into a No. 2 or 3 seed for the conference tournament.

Illinois (13-16, 3-13) is coming off an 81-61 loss at No. 2 Michigan State on Tuesday. Junior forward Leron Black notched his third straight game with at least 20 points by scoring 20 for the Fighting Illini.

The defeat, occurring in Michigan State's last home game, was one that gave first-year Illinois coach Brad Underwood an opportunity to show his players how he wanted to emulate Tom Izzo's program.

The Fighting Illini, who have lost five of their last six games and are 0-9 in true road games this season, looked on when Izzo called timeout in the waning seconds to allow his seniors a standing ovation.

"I want them to be able to do that," Underwood said of his players. "I want them to play for being able to kiss the floor in front of 15,000. That's when you're invested in the program. That's the growth I'm looking for."

Illinois will play its last home game of the season against a Purdue team that has lost three of its last four contests.

The Boilermakers have lived on the edge lately, playing five straight games decided by four points or fewer and eight in a row by eight or fewer.

In the 76-73 victory over visiting Penn State on Sunday, Purdue survived without Edwards behind sophomore guard Carsen Edwards' 27 points and three steals, and senior guard Dakota Mathias' 18 points and two steals.

Carsen Edwards, no relation to Vincent Edwards, leads the Boilermakers with 17.4 points per game.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said he believes that when Vincent Edwards is cleared to play, he will be refreshed and that will help the Boilermakers with the NCAA Tournament around the corner.

"For the guy who does get injured to be able to take a step back and watch while some of what goes on while you're getting healthy, it can give you a shot in the arm," Painter said. "It is hard when you're grinding it out. Now you get a little mental reprieve from all of it. You get healthy physically, but mentally you have that freshness.

"NBA people talk about it a lot, when guys get injured and now they come back, it's not just the physical piece."

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