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December 5, 2013

Moore makes most of return





One of the greatest players in Purdue's history spent a good chunk of the second half watching the game from the student section.

E'Twaun Moore was going to make sure he got the most of his return to campus.

Moore took a break from his busy NBA schedule to attend the Boilermakers' game against Boston College Wednesday and was officially recognized for his jersey number hanging in the rafters, though it's been there for years now, at halftime.

But Moore made sure this wasn't just a get-a-special-ball, wave-and-smile experience.

After sitting with his family in normal bleacher seats in the first half, Moore headed out to mingle with The Paint Crew midway through the second, snatching a student's hard hat at one point and joining in on the section's cheers.

He snapped photos and signed autographs for anyone who asked, showed his brother Ezell Jr. the team's locker room and practice court after the game and generally had an enjoyable trip back to West Lafayette.

And all that was knowing he was only going to get a handful of hours of sleep before jetting off to New York Thursday morning to join his Orlando Magic teammates.

But it was certainly worth the quick trip.

"It's definitely exciting," Moore said before the game. "I definitely had a good four years here, so to come back and have a tribute with the jersey in the rafters, it's exciting for me."

During the halftime presentation, Moore was given a commemorative basketball and posed with athletic director Morgan Burke. Then he spoke to the fans in a nearly packed Mackey Arena.

He thanked "the best fans in college basketball" and his family for their support. He thanked Coach Matt Painter for the opportunity to play at Purdue, for letting him "get up enough shots to get to 2,000" points that allowed him to get his number in the rafters.

"I never thought that'd be down the line, to have my jersey in the rafters," Moore said. "I was just like, 'Man, I'm hoping I get a chance to play.' I was just hoping to get on the court period. So for this to happen is definitely huge."

Though Moore's schedule has been hectic, he said he tries to watch as many Purdue games as he can. He estimated he'd seen five of the team's first eight on TV before Wednesday night.

Watching the team in person, though, was a new experience.

He'd been back to Mackey since the renovation - he's been on campus in the summers working with current Boilermakers in open gyms - but not for a game and not as a fan.

And he was OK with the wait, he joked.

"I guess that's a good sign - it means I've been busy, I've been working," he said. "As long as I keep a job, it's good."

That job isn't going too bad either.

Moore has played in every game this season for the Magic, starting three games and coming off the bench in the other 15. He's averaging 6.8 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 23.3 minutes. He's also shooting a team-best 39 percent on three-pointers.

"It's been going well, been playing a lot. We're 6-12 right now, wish we'd won a couple more games, but it's still exciting and just a blessing to have a job playing basketball," said Moore, in his third NBA season and second with Orlando. "I'm letting myself enjoy it. You've just got to keep striving to get better.

"I just shoot threes now. They just want me to shoot. I'm like, 'OK, if that's all you want me to do …' I like it."






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