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December 18, 2012

Purdue grinds out a win

Listen: Coach Matt Painter | D.J. Byrd, A.J. Hammons and Jacob Lawson | Ball State coach Billy Taylor

PDF: Purdue-Ball State Box Score

After Lafayette's Jesse Berry knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to give Ball State a two-point lead with nine-and-a-half minutes left and quiet a half-full Mackey Arena, it had all the makings of one of those local-kid-stuns-the-hometown-school stories.

Purdue wasn't having any of it, though, answering with a run of seven consecutive points after falling behind, en route to a badly, badly needed 66-56 win.

"It's all about the attitude," senior D.J. Byrd said of Purdue's rally after falling behind. "Sometimes you miss a shot or miss a couple shots and you can't let that affect your defense or rebounding or your passion for the game. That's something we try to remind each other: 'We're playing to win and no matter what happens, we're going to win this game.'"

After the second three from Berry - the Jeff High School grad scored a game-high 22 before the Boilermakers, led by Terone Johnson's defense, managed to quiet him in the final minutes - put Ball State ahead 45-43 with 9:27 left.

But soon after, A.J. Hammons hit a hook shot, then blocked a shot and steered the ball to Terone Johnson, setting up the guard's and-one in transition. Moments later, Johnson hit Donnie Hale rolling to the basket for a layup that capped a 7-0 Purdue burst.

From then on, Purdue made its share of mistakes, at least one egregiously poor shot and a couple sequences that gave Ball State easy points when the Boilermakers needed to make the Cardinals earn everything. But when all was said and done, Purdue held firm in the sort of situation it's frequently failed in this season.

Granted, a win over Ball State isn't going to right all that's not gone to plan for the Boilermakers this season, but success is success, and Purdue's needed to experience some success in the worst way.

Hammons was a central figure in that success.

He led Purdue with 15 points and provided a defensive presence on the interior that affected the game profoundly, blocking three shots, altering others, and sparking a few fast-break chances for Purdue, including Terone Johnson's important three-point play.

"He did a good job a handful of times just coming over and being big," Painter said of his freshman center. "That really helped us. When he stays on his feet and doesn't reach … most guys aren't going to score over him."

Terone Johnson scored 14 points, eight of them in the decisive final eight minutes, while handing out four assists with no turnovers.

Ronnie Johnson added 11 points and five assists.

D.J. Byrd made three of the four three-pointers he launched and scored 11 himself.

Jacob Lawson grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds.

The Boilermakers shot 57 percent in the second half and committed just nine turnovers for the game, solid numbers for a team that's bogged down offensively in second halves this season and committed far too many turnovers.

"We moved on offense," Byrd said. "Some parts of the game, we would just pass the ball and stand and get stagnant on offense and not get a good shot or get two feet in the lane (for a shot). We got the ball inside and that opened things up for everybody else on the perimeter. Getting (Hammons) the ball and letting him score strong really helps our team, both him and other players. That's what we tried to do."

Offensively, it was a step in the right direction, but certainly not a destination.

"We gave ourselves a better chance," Painter said. "We just have to do a better job thinking the game, especially there at the end. We were able to knock down some free throws, but we had a turnover and a quick shot that were just elementary mistakes. We have to do a better job of securing a lead and playing the right way."

Berry finished with 22, but was held without a field goal following his go-ahead triple, thanks largely to Terone Johnson's efforts guarding him.

"We put Terone on him and I thought Terone did a good job," Painter said. "We had a couple opportunities in transition to pick (Berry) up, one in the first half and one in the second, and we just did a poor job. We'd talked about him and how he really looks to attack in transition with those quick threes."

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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