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January 19, 2013

Reserves Johnson, Marcius solid; West Va. notes

Anthony Johnson admitted he had been struggling on offense.

He hadn't reached double digits in points since Dec. 4 and hadn't had at least two assists in a game since Dec. 8.

Perhaps a 12-point, three-rebound, two-assist, no-turnover game in Purdue's 79-52 victory over West Virginia on Saturday will help get Johnson untracked.

"My teammates and the coaches continue to have confidence in me. I have to continue to have confidence in myself," Johnson said. "(Saturday) I was aggressive. Some shots fell for me (Saturday) that I normally make that weren't going down for me (previously). Credit to my teammates getting me the ball in the right positions, and I was able to be aggressive and get some shots to go down for me."

As starting freshman point guard Ronnie Johnson has improved and started to log more minutes, Anthony Johnson has seen his stay near the 20-minute mark for much of the last month.

Painter just wants to see production, regardless of the time on the floor, and he was pleased with the boost Anthony Johnson gave the Boilermakers, especially in the first half when Ronnie Johnson played only 11 minutes with two fouls.

Minutes after Anthony Johnson entered the game, he had an offensive rebound that he turned into a free throw and then scored off a drive to the basket to give Purdue a 9-7 lead.

He scored against off an offensive rebound, this time putting his own miss back in, and then had a three-point play with 2:44 left for a 33-20 lead. To end the half, he drove to the basket, drew defenders and dropped off a pass for Terone Johnson's layup.

"Anthony played half the game and had zero turnovers and that's great," Painter said. "That's what we need them to do. A couple of those shots that he missed, you could call that a turnover. But giving us 12 points and not turning the basketball over, that was a real boost. I thought Anthony had a good game."

Purdue has won six of its past eight games, matching its longest winning streak of the season by beating the Mountaineers.

Securing three consecutive victories - games against a pair of lower-tier Big Ten teams and a struggling West Virginia team - was crucial to the team's momentum heading into the meaty part of its schedule. The Boilermakers play a pair of top-10 teams (Michigan, Indiana) in the next three games.

"(This stretch) was really important not only for me and D.J. and (Anthony), but for the younger guys," Terone Johnson said. "I think that builds a lot of confidence going into these next games. Also, it shows them that our system actually does work. Early in the season, guys didn't really know the system, but now I feel like everybody is getting better at that, and that's just a big confidence builder I feel like."

The key now, though, will be not becoming satisfied with the modest winning streak but instead striving to continue to improve.

"We win a couple games, we can't let ourselves get a big head," said D.J. Byrd, who had team highs with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists. "Sometimes we've done that in the past where we come out, maybe take some bad shots, maybe not focus as much on defense. It doesn't matter how many games we win in a row, we have to keep the same attitude and do the right things."

Big man, big play
Sandi Marcius' minutes usually depend on matchups, and he's had few chances of late.

But Marcius seized the opportunity against the Mountaineers, who played three guys who were at least 6-foot-10, 240 pounds.

In 14 minutes - the second-most he's played in a game all season and just under what he's played in the last six games combined - Marcius had four rebounds, scored four points on two-of-three shooting, had an assist and a block.

"I thought Sandi was great," Painter said. "He gave us energy. He's kept a great attitude in practice. He's been positive and when you do that and get an opportunity, you normally play well."

All six of Darrell Hazell's assistant football coaches were at the game, sitting in the stands with recruits. Linebackers coach Marcus Freeman, secondary coach Jon Heacock and offensive line coach Jim Bollman stayed until the end of the game.

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. 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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