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January 30, 2012Purdue mixed up its starting lineup at Northwestern, putting D.J. Byrd in its first five alongside Robbie Hummel, with no true big man on the floor.
Though the Boilermakers escaped with a 58-56 win thanks to Hummel's game-winner with 8.1 seconds left and Purdue's defensive stop at the end, results were mixed.
Purdue spent most of the game with Byrd on the floor, as he played a career-high 35 minutes, while Travis Carroll, the only center-type to play, saw just 11 minutes.
The box score in itself shows the distinct benefit of the smaller lineups, as well as the primary drawback.
With more skill on the floor, Purdue turned the ball over just five times in 40 minutes, but was out-rebounded 37-23 by the Big Ten's worst rebounding team statistically.
"Our guards did a poor job rebounding," Coach Matt Painter said. "The rebounds we didn't get were about hustle. It was guards not boxing out and chasing the ball. We played all guards, so it was on them. ... That was disappointing.
"We have to do a better job (rebounding), but it really helps us in terms of making decisions. We only had five turnovers."
Northwestern is one of the matchups in the Big Ten against which the undersized lineups might be most viable against.
So there's no guarantee that Purdue will stick with the same starting five Saturday against Indiana, which uses 6-foot-11 Cody Zeller and 6-9 Christian Watford at center and power forward, respectively.
"We'll go through the week of practice, watch tape and do what's best for us or what's best against Indiana," Painter said. "That's something coaches are always pondering, what's best for your team and making (opponents) adjust to you. But it can get flipped on you and you'll have to adjust to them. It's a fine line. But no matter what we'll play both ways through the course of a game."
Purdue now gets a week off between the win at Northwestern and Saturday's visit from 20th-ranked Indiana.
"I'd prefer to star in a routine and play Wednesday-Saturday," Painter said. "It keeps you mentally sharp. (The time off) can help you physically, but there can be some rust there mentally."
Painter on Hummel's game-winner: "It's huge for him. Any time you can make a shot at the end of the game to help your team win, it helps you build confidence and helps you step up there the next time and do it again. We missed some shots late (against Michigan); our seniors had some good looks. You just encourage them to take them again. They took good shots. The thing you try to emphasize to them is, 'Make the right decision and make the right play and don't have a pre-determined thought on what you're going to do.' In the Northwestern game, it was great to have him with the ball in that situation.'"
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