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November 20, 2012

Game 5: UNC-Wilmington

Purdue needs a win. Bad.

After coming out of the season-opening 2K Sports Classic with a 1-3 record, the Boilermakers need to get well.

"Those games we lost, we kind of beat ourselves," junior Terone Johnson said. "We could have taken better shots, we could have played harder defensively and we could have played more together as a team. We felt like we were divided almost the whole trip."

So, yeah, Purdue has some things it needs to work on.

Enter UNC-Wilmington, who'll visit Mackey Arena Wednesday night after losing its past two games by an average of 40 points.

Purdue will be more worried about itself, though, than its opponent when it takes the floor following the program's worst start under Coach Matt Painter, which included a bizarre loss in New York City to Villanova, a loss that clearly contributed to its poor start the next day in a loss to Oregon State.

"We have a lot of young guys," Terone Johnson said, "and I think that's something that kind of affected them."

Coach Matt Painter has called his team "immature" and lamented some of its issues as it's come up short at the end of three games it had put itself in position to win.

He's maintained, however, that youth is only part of the problem, that experienced players have been struggling, as well.

Especially offensively, where shot-selection and patience have been two commonly harped-on themes.

"Everybody's trying to do things early in the shot clock," senior D.J. Byrd said. "A lot of those are low-percentage plays. We've watched a lot of film and we're going to hopefully change that. We have to change it and that's what we have to do from here on out."

Against Oregon State, freshman A.J. Hammons went for 20 points in as many minutes, a blueprint of sorts for how Purdue's realizing it should function offensively.

"We've looked at our guards' percentages," said Terone Johnson, who's shooting 28 percent after coming back from an ankle injury, "and our guards are taking most of the bad shots. We should start from the inside-out, whether it be driving it to the basket or dumping it inside."

Again, Purdue just needs a win.

"We're 1-3 right now," Byrd said. "There's nothing we can do but fight back, fight the rest of the season, take responsibility and be accountable for your actions. All those things that have to come together for you to be a good team."

Projected Lineups
(And we're guessing.)
G: Ronnie Johnson
G: Anthony Johnson
F: D.J. Byrd
F: Donnie Hale
C: Travis Carroll

C: C.J. Gettys (7-0, 280)
F: Keith Rendleman (6-8, 220)
F: Nate Anderson (6-10, 240)
G: Tanner Millson (6-2, 190)
G: Craig Ponder (6-1, 185)

Wilmington is coached by Buzz Peterson, who previously coached Tennessee and Appalachian State and was once Michael Jordan's teammate at North Carolina. … The Seahawks do have size for a low-major program, including 7-foot center C.J. Gettys and 6-8 leading scorer Keith Rendelman, who's averaging 15 points and 9.3 rebounds through three games. … For the second straight game Purdue guard Anthony Johnson will face a fellow Chicago Whitney Young product. Redshirt freshman forward Luke Hager attended the school, as did Ahmad Starks of Oregon State. … Wilmington is coming off a 43-point loss at Richmond and a 38-point loss at Ohio.

About Purdue: Roster | Schedule | Statistics (2011-12)

About Wilmington: Roster | Schedule | Statistics (2011-12)

Broadcast Info
Game time: 8:06 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."

Five things to think about
1. From turnovers to bad shots, Purdue's offense has defied its previous norms thus far. It will be interesting to see how deliberate the Boilermakers are against Wilmington after a few days of introspection.

2. Freshmen Hammons and Jay Simpson have been productive in the opportunities they've gotten. Can they get more? Conditioning and know-how issues continue to be hurdles, it would seem.

(Simpson said his ankle, which caused with to limp off against Oregon State, is fine.)

3. The starting lineup: Is another reshuffling forthcoming?

4. What's with Byrd's turnovers? After committing 18 all of last season, he has 12 through four games.

"It's just one of those things where you're trying too hard to do different things," Byrd said. "You might miss a shot and feel you need to make up for that shot by knocking one down, then that one doesn't fall. You don't need to compound your mistakes. You just have to take open shots and good looks."

5. Where is Purdue's head right now? This is a young and very new team. Adversity reveals character, right?

GoldandBlack.com Prediction: We can only judge Wilmington on its results and those results are not good. Seems like a perfect opportunity for Purdue to experience some much-needed success and maybe look good doing it.

Purdue 80, UNC-Wilmington 60

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2012. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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