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February 29, 2012

Senior Night romp

Post-game audio: Coach Matt Painter | Players Robbie Hummel, Ryne Smith and Lewis Jackson

In their last go-around in Mackey Arena, each of Purdue's seniors got their turns.

In Purdue's 80-56 Senior Night win over Penn State, Robbie Hummel, Lewis Jackson and Ryne Smith each had their chances to shine.

Hummel dominated the first half, and the game for that matter, finishing in style, with 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists, with no turnovers.

His three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer capped a tight opening 20 minutes, gave the Boilermakers a 37-32 and set up the second half onslaught to come.

Jackson fueled that onslaught, scoring all 12 of his points after halftime. He made every shot he took, all six of them.

It was Smith who officially ushered in garbage time, making back-to-back threes that put Purdue up 64-42 with less than 10 minutes to play and put Coach Matt Painter in a position where he could worry more about pulling the seniors from the game ceremoniously.

"It was about as perfect as you could have drawn it up," Hummel said of the second half.

Purdue had its offense to thank.

The Boilermakers contributed to their win in part by clobbering Penn State on the boards, 31-17, and by holding the Nittany Lions to just 24 points on 37-percent after halftime.

But, really, Purdue just flat-out out-scored Penn State - despite Tim Frazier's best efforts; he had 26 - continuing its recent outstanding play on offense.

"People are just settling in to what they can do," Jackson said. "Before the Ohio State, Coach (Micah) Shrewsberry told us, 'Just do your job, do what you do best for the team.' We have great shooters (in Hummel and Smith) and D.J. Byrd and Terone Johnson and I have been driving. Everybody's playing to their strengths. We're moving the ball better. We're not getting frustrated when things get taken away. We just have more flow on offense and everyone's trusting each other to make the right decision. Nobody cares who's scoring the ball."

After a game in which his team shot 65 percent in the second half - 57.4 overall - and finished with 21 assists on 27 made field goals, Painter pointed to numerous factors, including the excellent play of Hummel, Byrd (14 points vs. Penn State) and Terone Johnson (13 points), for Purdue's offensive potency of late.

"It's been a little bit of everything," Painter said.

But this win wasn't as easy as the final score might suggest.

The Nittany Lions rallied from eight down in the first half to lead by one with four-and-a-half minutes left. But Hummel's four-point play 25 seconds later and his three prior to the halftime buzzer put Purdue back in control.

"There were a lot of smiles out there in the second half," Smith said. "We just have to be a little bit better in the first half. It was a great win and an emotional night for us, but looking ahead to Indiana, we have to be able to put two halves together."

Purdue concludes its regular season this weekend at IU. It will do so with confidence.

"I think we're on a big-time roll right now," Hummel said.

The Boilermakers continue to play their best basketball at the best time.

"I think we peaked a little too early last year, to be honest with you," said Smith of a year ago, when Purdue lost to last-place Iowa, before quickly flaming out in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments. "We hit a wall at Iowa last year, then in the Big Ten Tournament. Hopefully we can carry over what we've been doing these past couple games into the Tournament and to Indiana, because that's a huge game. We just have to carry it over."




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