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December 17, 2013

Purdue wins in rout, but issues still linger









In typical Matt Painter-coached Purdue fashion, the Boilermakers came out of a 79-50 blowout victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore talking about what they didn't do.

Even though Purdue ran its non-conference home record to 8-0 this season.

Even though Purdue showed some nice balance on offense when Eastern Shore switched to some zone defense and full-court pressure - getting the ball inside equally to taking good shots from three, and making 50 percent of them.

Even though Purdue bottled up the Hawks (2-6), especially in the first half, holding them to 22 percent shooting and forcing eight turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

Even though Purdue got some much-needed confidence-boosting performances from Errick Peck (9 points, 4 rebounds in 13 minutes) and Sterling Carter (6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover in 15 minutes).

Even though the game never was really in doubt - Purdue establishing a double-digit lead midway through the first half and pushing it to as many as the 29-point final margin.

Painter and one of the team's senior captains, Terone Johnson, didn't want to talk about those things, though.

When asked what Purdue (9-3) could take from Tuesday's victory, Johnson said, "what we did wrong and correct it."

"We turned the ball over 10 times. We wanted to keep it under seven," Johnson said, starting the list of goals. "We wanted to keep them under 25 for each half. We did it in the first half. The second half, we didn't do it. There are going to be repercussions for that."

Painter was irked by more "inconsistent" play from his team, as well as spurts in which it didn't heed his directives. He pointed specifically to a stretch with about five minutes left in the first half. Ronnie Johnson drove and got blocked and then had a turnover on the next possession, so Painter called a timeout. His message: We need to get quality shot after having consecutive mistakes.

Out of the timeout, Purdue ran a perfectly drawn-up play in which Carter got the inbound pass, quickly gave it away and then raced down the baseline to the opposite corner. The ball moved around the perimeter and back to Carter, who shot the three but missed everything. It was Carter's only missed three-pointer on three attempts Tuesday.

"I called timeout to just let them know how important this is and then we shoot an airball. We have to be a more mature basketball team and a more cerebral team and understand those situations or it will continue to happen," Painter said.

Painter's frustration lies in seeing players have the ability to make plays - like Carter's shooting - and only occasionally deliver. It's part of the inconsistency that's maddening.

"Sometimes as coaches, we want to say that it's getting better. It just makes us feel better about it, whatever. That doesn't help you," Painter said. "People say, 'Well, you've got to be positive or positive in the media.' No, I think you have to assess your issue and nail it head on and you have to admit it. You have an issue here. If you don't admit it and you get away from it as a coach, you're part of the problem.

"We've got guys who are just up and down in areas where they're successful and then they're unsuccessful. You just have to keep working, keep practicing and you really just continue to harp on the same things."

Painter isn't the only one who will be, though.

And that could help.

Terone Johnson, who has evolved into a mini-Painter in his final season, is quick to be critical, mostly in an effort to push this team to be better.

He thinks it can be.

He just wants to see it, much like his coach.

"I think we're pretty good. We just have a problem with playing full games," said Johnson, who led the Boilermakers with 14 points, including making three of his four threes. "I don't know if it's the youth or us not keeping our composure at times. But we'll go certain possessions in a row where we look like a team that can win the Big Ten and then we'll go a couple possessions where we look like last in the Big Ten. It's ridiculous.

"If we're able to take away those lulls and keep the highs up and not get too high off it, I think we can be really good."






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