WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Having cut a 13-point deficit to two points with less than four minutes to play against Purdue, Wisconsin looked like it was following its script word-for-word from its Saturday upset of No. 1 Ohio State.
But the Mackey Arena proved just as much a safe haven for Purdue as the Kohl Center is for Wisconsin.
The Boilermakers held off the Badgers' rally for a 70-62 victory Wednesday night to slip into sole possession of second place in the Big Ten and avenge a loss from earlier this month in Madison, Wis.
"I thought the difference was the decision making," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "I thought we pounded that into their heads."
The No. 11 Boilermakers (21-5, 10-3) made few errors, appearing like a revamped team compared to the one that lost at Wisconsin 66-59 a little more than two weeks ago. That could be a fortunate sign considering the Buckeyes, which blew away Purdue by 23 points in Columbus, come here Sunday.
No player looked more improved since Purdue's last meeting against Wisconsin (19-6, 9-4) as point guard Lewis Jackson. He had scored only one point and turned the ball over three times in that Feb. 1 loss.
"(The team) just told me I had to be special," Jackson said.
That he was.
Jackson's how-do-you-like-me-now outing was a nice do-over as the junior scored 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting with five assists and no turnovers. His defense helped hold Wisconsin guard Jordan Taylor to a quiet 15 points and force the Badgers into three rare shot clock violations.
After falling behind 51-38 almost midway through the second half, Wisconsin found a spark. The Boilermakers dragged through a nearly six-minute stretch without a field goal as the Badgers drew within striking distance 58-56.
Purdue answered with a 7-0 run — with five points from guard E'Twaun Moore, including a critical 3-pointer — for a 65-56 buffer with less than two minutes remaining.
JaJuan Johnson scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and four blocks, while Moore added 19 points.
Wisconsin's Jon Leuer scored a game-high 23 points on 10 of 18 shooting.
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan laughed off the suggestion of a let-down after its court-storming victory against the Buckeyes.
"It never came up," he said. "It's not like we haven't beaten someone before."
Purdue players said they understand the seriousness of this week.
"We knew we had to have this game, especially on our home court," Johnson said. "We know we have to get that one (against the Buckeyes) to keep the pressure on them."