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December 28, 2012
Purdue has just one more non-conference game to play before Big Ten play begins.
And the 5-6 Boilermakers will have to beat William & Mary Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Mackey Arena just to open its league schedule with as many wins as losses.
But Purdue hopes to come out of its Christmas break rejuvenated.
"Everybody's realizes there's a lot of season left," senior D.J. Byrd said, "and even though we're 5-6, we have to start somewhere and change some things. I think that little break, it gave us the feeling that itís kind of a new season and we can turn this around."
It has to start Saturday, because Illinois soon visits, followed by a trip to Michigan State and a home game against Ohio State. Each of Purdue's first three Big Ten opponents will be ranked.
To be able to compete, the Boilermakers will very obviously have to curb one glaring problem that's undermined them thus far: Turnovers.
Coach Matt Painter has harped on decision-making all season.
"You can't make something happen with the ball every single time," point guard Ronnie Johnson. "You have to wait 'til you get the defense on its heels or out of whack, and then you have to attack."
(And we're guessing.)
G: Terone Johnson
G: Ronnie Johnson
F: D.J. Byrd
F: Jacob Lawson
C: A.J. Hammons
William & Mary
G: Marcus Thornton (6-4, 185, So.)
G: Matt Rum (6-4, 200, Sr.)
F: Brandon Britt (6-2 195, Jr.)
F: Tim Rusthoven (6-9, 235, Jr.)
C: Kyle Gaillard (6-8, 220, Jr.)
William & Mary comes in at 7-3, riding a four-game winning streak following a three-game slide. ... The Tribe's lone prior meeting against a major-conference opponent resulted in a 63-57 loss at Wake Forest. ... The Tribe is top-20 nationally in field goal percentage, shooting 48.6 percent, factoring in 36.7-percent three-point shooting. ... Opponents are shooting less than 25 percent from three-point range against William & Mary this season. ... Guard Marcus Thornton averages 18 points and is shooting 43 percent from long range. ... Brandon Britt averages 15 a game and is shooting 53 percent overall. ... Forward Tim Rusthoven, 6-foot-9, 235, averages 14.1 points and seven rebounds. ... William & Mary averages nearly 14 turnovers per game.
About Purdue: Roster | Schedule | Statistics
About William & Mary: Roster | Schedule | Statistics
Game time: 2 p.m.
Radio: Purdue Sports Network (95.7 FM locally)
Internet: GoldandBlack.com subscribers can follow along live with our in-game blog, "Game Day Live."
Things to think about
1. Purdue hasn't played since Dec. 18. How sharp will it be after being idle so long?
2. It was considered progress in a sense that Purdue only committed nine turnovers its last time out, in a win over Ball State that could have gone either way in the second half. Can the Boilermakers keep it up and keep chipping away at the single greatest factor holding them back thus far?
3. Can Anthony Johnson get going? He's 8-of-29 shooting the past five games and has handed out more than one assist in a game just two other times since recording nine in the season opener.
4. Last year, Christmas was the turning point in Byrd's season. Was his 3-of-4 three-point game against Ball State a sign of things to come?
GoldandBlack.com Prediction: Long lay-offs can work both ways, whether it be to energize a team or bog it down. Thereís no telling which way it'll work for Purdue, but we'd expect a week-plus of contemplating its deficiencies to pay at least some dividends in the final game prior to Big Ten play.
Purdue 75, William & Mary 60
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