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November 20, 2013

Purdue cruises to 4-0









Purdue-Eastern Illinois box score

Matt Painter conveyed his message in no uncertain terms prior to Purdue's 83-55 win over Eastern Illinois Wednesday night.

"I told them, 'If we're not going to have energy to start the game, that means I'm starting the wrong people, because I think we have more than five people in this locker room that deserve to start and we're going to have to mix things up if we don't do a better job,'" Painter said. "Those (starters) have played well. They just haven't played well at the start of a game, so it's not like it's been a bad mix.

"I just thought our guys did a better job being ready to play."

Whether it was that message or not, Purdue did have that energy, reeling off the game's first dozen points against the Panthers and never looking back.

It started from the opening tip, literally.

A.J. Hammons took said tip, the Boilermakers' first won jump ball of the season to open a game.

"That was something that started us off right," point guard Ronnie Johnson said, kind of joking. "But we had a couple good stops and that's what we need to do to start off the game right. We We got some quick buckets, jamming it down in the paint and running in transition, getting some fast buckets in transition."

That was one of the stories of the night, how Purdue turned defensive aggressiveness into offensive aggressiveness, turning 19 Eastern Illinois turnovers into 31 points.

"That's what Painter wants us to," freshman Bryson Scott said, "to turn them over and go, push the ball in transition and try to get as many baskets as we can. That's what me and Ronnie focus on and how we get a lot of our points and to get our teammates involved, to take the most advantage out of transition."

Yes, Purdue had that needed energy its coach demanded, a big part of it coming from its freshmen.

Scott led Purdue with 14 points off the bench on 3-of-5 shooting. Basil Smotherman made all three of his shots and scored 10, while Kendall Stephens scored 11 with five rebounds.

Purdue was 0-of-9 in the first half, from three, but Stephens buried an early one, followed by one from Rapheal Davis, spurring a rout from there on out.

"I think our team feeds off other guys scoring and getting excited, things like that," Stephens said. "It got the ball rolling and we were able to increase the lead a little more."

Ronnie Johnson scored 10 points with eight assists to just one turnover, continuing his strong play this young season.

Purdue didn't get the ball inside as much as Painter would have liked, especially in the first half when it struggled shooting, but A.J. Hammons and Jay Simpson were productive nonetheless.

In just 18 minutes, Hammons made all three of his shots, scoring nine points to go along with five rebounds, three blocks, two steals and no turnovers. Simpson scored eight points, with five rebounds in 14 minutes.

Defensively, Purdue held Eastern to less than 33-percent shooting and limited leading scorer Reggie Smith to 11 points on 3-of-11 shooting.

"They did it to us," EIU coach Jay Spoonhour said of Purdue's pressure.





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