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March 19, 2013

Byrd gets one more chance in Mackey

Maybe it would have been better to finish like this: D.J. Byrd getting 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a victory over Minnesota in front a mostly full crowd on senior day in a final game at Mackey Arena.

Instead, Purdue accepted a bid to play in the College Basketball Invitational and will host at least one game. The Boilermakers (15-17) play Western Illinois at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Mackey.

So Byrd, whether his likes it or not, he will get another chance to play in front of fans at home.

"Senior night, it was nice, a nice way to end, a big win vs. Minnesota. But it's not really up to me," Byrd said. "It's about making Purdue better and what's going to help them in the future. Right now, we need to play some more games and get some more wins, hopefully."

The CBI isn't the tournament the Boilermakers would prefer, but all Byrd can do is finish his career with as big of a flourish as possible.

Byrd didn't have the kind of season he would have liked, saying he wasn't happy with how he shot the ball early in the season and was disappointed at the frequency of his turnovers (55 were nearly three times as many as his total last season).

But he also was trying to adjust to defenses playing him differently with few other elite players surrounded him. He called that "kind of a struggle and a little frustrating at some points."

Still, Byrd did heat up from a shooting standpoint in Big Ten play - his 46 three-pointers led the league and his 39-percent shooting from that range ranked ninth.

And he also set career highs in scoring (10.1 ppg) and rebounding (4.2 ppg) this season.

Now, he will work to continue to extend his career by providing the hustle and gutsy play he's come to be a defined by during his Purdue tenure.

"I think the people respect the effort and the hard work, and I'm going to continue to do those things and try to play hard and help Purdue win because that's what it's all about and that's what the people like to see," he said.

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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