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January 19, 2013

Purdue blows out West Virginia

Listen: Coach Matt Painter | D.J. Byrd, Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson | WestVirginia coach Bob Huggins

PDF: Purdue-West Virginia Box Score

Riding a string of back-to-back convincing wins, Purdue had been playing well coming into its Saturday's out-of-conference meeting with West Virginia.

But no could have seen this coming, as the Boilermakers dismantled the Mountaineers, 79-52, in a game they expected to have to fight tooth and nail to claim.

Purdue coach Matt Painter admitted a measure of surprise in the outcome.

Upperclassman Terone Johnson didn't.

"I don't know if it surprises us," the junior said. "We just did everything we were supposed to do, I think, and if we keep on doing that we're going to continue to get better."

The Boilermakers shot 49 percent for the game - just under 54 in the second half - and made 8-of-11 three-pointers, led by the 4-of-6 long-range shooting D.J. Byrd used to score a game-high 17 points.

Purdue dominated the rebounding column 24-13 in the second half after being down one at the break.

But it was defense that won this game for the Boilermakers, though judging by the tone of Coach Bob Huggins afterward, the Mountaineers have some issues on offense.

West Virginia made only 29 percent of its shots. Its 17 turnovers were more damaging than they were numerous.

"We're so damn bad, I don't know (what can be done)," Huggins quipped at one point during his post-game spiel. "Most teams can score if you throw them the ball for a layup."

Purdue didn't roll from the get-go, as turnovers kept it from shaking its visitor in the game's opening 10 minutes.

"We felt like we were keeping them in the game," Terone Johnson said. "They're a really good team and they played really hard, and we feel like we matched that today."

It was Johnson's transition bucket at the 10-and-a-half minute mark of the first half that preceded back-to-back Byrd three-pointers as Purdue pushed its lead into double-figures.

Game conditions - i.e. West Virginia's struggles to score - suggested then that Purdue had a very comfortable cushion, one that became even cozier when Anthony Johnson hit Terone Johnson for a layup with 30 seconds left that gave the Boilermakers a 37-23 halftime lead.

Playing with leads has not been Purdue's strong suit this season.

Saturday, not only did it protect a 14-point halftime advantage, it nearly doubled it.

"That's been an emphasis," Byrd said, "to come out and not let them get their heads up. We did that."

To open the half, Byrd dribbled out of the corner when converged upon, then found A.J. Hammons for a two-handed dunk. Then, the senior drew a foul shooting a three and made each free throw. Ronnie Johnson's bucket capped the 7-0 run Purdue used to push its lead to 21 a little more than two minutes into the second half.

And there was no let-up this time; Purdue led by as many as 32.

Check that: If there was a let-up, it wasn't all that apparent, due to West Virginia's offensive struggles.

"We still had struggles," Painter said. "If you struggle a little bit, but (the opponent) can't capitalize, it gets even worse."

In the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the second half, West Virginia managed just one field goal, that being a break-away basket off a Rapheal Davis turnover.

West Virginia simply couldn't make shots, but Purdue had a lot to do with it.

"For us, it was just about us making it hard for them," Byrd said, "and making them shoot shots they didn't want to shoot."

Purdue, meanwhile, got plenty of shots it did want, hanging nearly 80 points.

Davis added 16 points on just six shots, all but four of his points coming after halftime.

Anthony Johnson scored 12 and didn't turn the ball over in 20 minutes, squelching any cause for worry that might have come with Ronnie Johnson getting in early foul trouble. Terone Johnson added 11. No Boilermaker took more than nine shots and none who cracked double figures shot less than 56 percent.

Purdue rolled on offense even with Hammons - a central figure in the offense all season - managing just four points and with Ronnie Johnson giving up five of the 16 turnovers that might have kept Purdue from scoring in the 90s. Eight more missed foul shots didn't help either.

But such minutia is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, where Purdue's riding a three-game winning streak headed to mighty Michigan this week.

"It's really important," Terone Johnson said. "Not only for (upperclassmen), but for the younger guys. It builds a lot of confidence going into these next games.

"But also, it shows that our system actually does work. Earlier in the season, guys didn't really know the system but everyone's getting better at that and it's a big confidence-builder, I feel like."

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