INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Maybe the third time will be different for Michigan State.

The Spartans, who struggled against the Big Ten’s worst team in a first-round victory over Purdue, advanced to Friday night’s conference quarterfinals against defending tourney champion Illinois, the No. 3 seed.

Illinois beat Michigan State twice in the regular season, but Spartans coach Tom Izzo discounted any possibility the Illini would have a tough time getting up for a third matchup

“Illinois is not going to be worried because they beat us two times or three times,” Izzo said after the 70-58 win over Purdue. “They’re not going to have a letdown. They’ve got a great team.”

Maurice Ager scored 20 points and redshirt freshman Goran Suton had a career-high 12 points as the Spartans held off the Boilermakers. In the other first-round games on Thursday, Penn State beat Northwestern 60-42 to set up a showdown with top-seeded Ohio State, and Minnesota beat Michigan 59-55 to set up a quarterfinal game against No. 2 seed Iowa.

No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 5 Indiana, who had first-round byes, also were paired in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Izzo called the Spartans “good in stretches,” but he was otherwise not satisfied with their play against Purdue.

“I can’t say I was extremely ecstatic about our play, and Purdue deserves some of the credit for that,” Izzo said. “Yet in clutch times, these guys came through.”

Suton, whose previous high was nine points against IPFW, had two big rebound baskets after the Boilermakers cut a 15-point deficit to six. The Spartans then got their last six points at the foul line, including the final two by Ager with 37 seconds left.

Purdue (9-19), which has never won the conference tournament and was seeded 11th, was eliminated in its first tourney game for the fifth straight year and finished 0-14 away from home this season despite 20 points by Gary Ware.

“We had a great effort,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We’ve struggled shooting the basketball the past four or five games. It’s too bad, because these guys have worked hard to get better.”

Penn State earned its victory behind Geary Claxton’s 17 points and 10 rebounds and the Nittany Lions’ zone defense that stymied the cold-shooting Wildcats.

“We kept calling out who’s who. We just kept talking,” Penn State’s Travis Parker said of the defensive switches that limited Northwestern to 32 percent shooting and held Big Ten scoring leader Vedran Vukusic to 10 points on 3-of-9 from the field.

“Every time he caught the ball, we were on him. I don’t think he had an open shot,” Parker said.

Penn State lost to Ohio State 72-69 in the first round last year.

“We’ve got to come out ready to play,” Claxton said. “If we play like we did today, we’re going to get blown out.”

Northwestern tied a tournament record with 31 3-point attempts but missed 12 straight during one stretch of the second half, when Penn State built a 26-point lead.

“I didn’t like the matchup when I saw it,” Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. “They seem to have our number. I thought we prepared adequately, but it certainly didn’t appear that way.”

Two straight 3-pointers by Mohamed Hachad, who led Northwestern with 16 points, and another 3-pointer by Evan Seacat helped cut Penn State’s lead to 17 points with just over a minute to go.

“We’re playing with more confidence, and that might be the most important thing,” Penn State coach Ed DeChellis said. “We know it’s going to be a tough task (against Ohio State), but we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Minnesota held on to win its first-round game against Michigan despite missing seven of 12 free throws in the final minute.

Maurice Hargrow led the Gophers with 15 points and Zach Puchtel added a career-high 15 rebounds. Vincent Grier scored all 11 of his points in the second half for Minnesota, while Dion Harris led Michigan with 16 points and Daniel Horton added 14.

Michigan jumped out to a 7-0 lead and led 20-12 midway through the first half. The Golden Gophers cut into the margin and trailed 27-23 at halftime. Minnesota had 12 turnovers at the break, but Michigan didn’t capitalize.

“We knew we had to come out and withstand that first blow,” said Puchtel, a senior walk-on. “And not only withstand it, but to punch back. A big focus of ours was to come out strong.”

Minnesota outrebounded Michigan 37-35 and forced 21 turnovers.

“I’m just proud of the effort, and I think it’s indicated by the fight they had for rebounds,” coach Dan Monson said. “They’re (Michigan) so athletic and big inside.”

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