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November 24, 2013
Purdue looks to stay unbeaten on the early season on Sunday with Siena coming to Mackey Arena.
About Purdue:: Roster | Schedule/Results | Stats
Projected starters C - A.J. Hammons; F - Errick Peck; G - Ronnie Johnson; G - Terone Johnson; G - Kendall Stephens
About Siena:: Roster | Schedule/Results | Stats
Broadcast info:: Radio: Purdue Sports Network | TV: Big Ten Network | LIVE: Join GoldandBlack.com for our 30-minute pregame 'Game Day Live' chat session, then our Twitter account, @GoldandBlackcom, for in-game updates.
Terone Johnson knows it'd be easy for players' minds to wander.
There's a road trip to Florida looming - and the escape from the 30-degree temperatures and Disney-inspired event it brings - for Purdue next week. It's the kind of holiday road trip that had a younger Johnson saying, "Yay! We get to get out of West Lafayette," he joked this week.
Now, not so much.
Now, the older, wiser senior is making sure to keep the largely young Boilermakers on task: There's business to take care of home first.
Purdue would like to continue its early-season string of victories on Sunday when Siena (2-3) comes to Mackey Arena for the first game of the Old Spice Classic, the rest of which will be finished next week in Orlando.
"We've got Oklahoma State after Siena, and I'm going to have to talk to guys about it that we're not looking past anyone," Johnson said. "Because in the past, we've lost like that. It's going to be something we're taking one game at a time."
The Saints fall into the team-you're-supposed-to-beat category, too, and that makes Sunday's game even more important for Purdue.
Can it keep winning those kinds of games, especially when it so desperately needs to with more meat showing up on the schedule next week?
The team's 4-0 start answers some of that, even if the Boilermakers have needed to escape in two of those four games.
That's OK, though, Johnson said, because those games only revealed some of this team's character.
"We had a couple that could have went the other way, but I think it shows a little bit of maturity the things we did at the end of those games," he said. "I think it's good for us because we get to learn who we trust in game-time situations like that and how other players play."
Not that the Boilermakers want another lesson in that Sunday.
Purdue shouldn't have one if it does want Coach Matt Painter would like: Rebound better, keep players out of the paint, stop forcing ill-advised three-pointers and feeding the ball into the post more often.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Painter said of the team's defense. "We can't let the ball get into the paint. We're letting our opponents shoot too many free throws. The backbone of our issues is we have too many guys playing with their hands and out of position and they foul. We have to get that corrected."
Johnson needs only 15 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He said he didn't realize he was close until he read it on Twitter.
"That's obviously something I would love to pass," he said.
Johnson is averaging 12.5 points per game this season. He's scored at least 15 points in a game once already this season and did it14 times last season.
"He's slowly but surely become a really good player," Painter said.
Siena will mix up defenses, including showing some full-court pressure, Painter said. But Purdue has handled pressure relatively well this season, using it to push its own tempo and score in transition. "We're putting more decision-makers out on the court and more ballhandlers out there, and that helps us," Painter said.
Of note: Siena is coming off a pair of victories secured in the final seconds. Imoh Silas' putback with 6.5 seconds left helped beat Cornell Friday night, and freshman Marquis Wright made a layup at the buzzer to lift the Saints over St. Bonaventure on Tuesday.
Prediction: It will be interesting to see if Johnson's message sunk in to Purdue's younger players and the team comes out focused from the jump, instead of the dreaming of upsetting of a ranked team down South. Even if the Boilermakers don't, though, Siena probably doesn't have enough firepower to win. Purdue 81, Siena 62
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