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December 22, 2013

Purdue scores needed win

Purdue-West Virginia box score

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - Purdue found that composure it had been searching for just in time to do something during the non-conference portion of its schedule.

Engaged in some pivotal late sequences Sunday in their 73-70 win at West Virginia, the Boilermakers showed patience and a steady head in generating solid offensive possessions and kept their cool enough to earn critical stops.

Aside from all the free throws Purdue missed in the closing minutes - the sole reason the Boilermakers' collective foreheads were still beading sweat in the game's closing ticks - it certainly looked to have taken a step forward from all those instances prior away from Mackey Arena in which it came unglued often at the worst times.

"I think we definitely had a lot better composure down the stretch there," said Terone Johnson, whose 20-point game included a number of important plays that helped make the victory possible. "We've got to make those free throws at the end so we don't give ourselves such a scare, but as far as the shots that we took down the stretch and being safe with the ball as far as turnovers I think we really had a lot of composure."

That was a welcomed sight for Matt Painter, who's been all but begging his team to share the ball and calm down on offense.

"We wanted to use the shot clock a ton," Painter said, "and we wanted to put them on defense and probe the defense and try to get a good shot."

They did.

Two particular plays stand out.

With 2:15 left and Purdue up with an interest in both getting a solid scoring opportunity, but also running clock, the Boilermakers drained the shot clock before Terone Johnson drew a defender toward him and hit freshman Basil Smotherman for a layup.

With 1:27 remaining, Ronnie Johnson did almost the exact same thing, hitting Smotherman rolling to the rim for an easy two that put the visitors up eight with less than a minute-and-a-half play.

They were clutch plays in key times for Purdue, putting it in a situation where it would have had to severely slip up to let the win slip.

Foul-shooting almost did it.

Long after a sequence when Ronnie Johnson missed 3-of-4 free throws with Purdue trying to build on a five-point lead with nine-plus minutes remaining, the Boilermakers again curled up in a ball at the stripe, as Ronnie Johnson missed a one-and-one before Terone Johnson split two pairs in the final 36 seconds and Rapheal Davis another.

Terone Johnson, though, was credited with blocking Eron Harris' last-second heave to tie the game and the Boilermakers officially got away with their shoddy foul shooting.

Terone Johnson led Purdue with 20 points, which included a three-pointer inside the six-minute mark after West Virginia had cut a five-point deficit to just one in less than a minute.

Ronnie Johnson added 14 points, including runners at 5:17 and 3:11 when Purdue was just trying to beat the Mountaineers back.

Kendall Stephens' rare driving and-one with 4:44 to play was the biggest play of a day in which the freshman scored nine points in his first road game. Smotherman's 11 points in his first venture into hostile territory were a high for his young career.

A.J. Hammons battled foul trouble again, but was the game's dominant presence around the basket otherwise, his career-high 12 rebounds leading the Boilermakers to a 45-38 rout on the boards. He also blocked four shots and loomed especially large with Jay Simpson limited after being ill during the week.

Defensively, Purdue allowed a West Virginia team that came in averaging 82 points per game against a solid early schedule to shoot only 37 percent, just 3-of-18 from three-point range, neutralizing one of the Mountaineers' strengths.

Purdue trailed by as many as eight in the first half, but Travis Carroll's putback in the last few seconds of the half sent Purdue to the locker room with a 35-33 lead.

Terone Johnson's three to open the second was followed by Ronnie Johnson's bucket and nestled among several defensive stops, giving Purdue the cushion it needed.

And the one it needed to collect itself in the end to hold on to.

"It just seemed like everyone had an even keel down the stretch," Terone Johnson said. "When it gets loud in there down the stretch when they made a run, Coach told us to move the ball and I thought we did that really well. We made some shots down the stretch that really helped us stay in the game and keep that lead."

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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