Post-game audio: Coach Matt PainterClick Here to view this Link. | Players Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson and Ronnie JohnsonClick Here to view this Link.
Matt Painter's new-look Purdue team won its exhibition opener over Montevallo Tuesday night.
But not without some uncertain moments in the second half against last year's D-II runner-up. At those moments, Painter might have been conflicted.
"I've always wanted to get beat in one of these games," Painter said, half-seriously. "I've always thought it would be important to get beat in a game that doesn't count.
"You want these challenges. I know I said I wanted to get beat, but no one wants to get beat, but it does help you."
With that in mind, the coach probably didn't fret over the fact that Montevallo had the Boilermakers on the ropes midway through the second half, after Purdue spent a good portion of the game to that point up double-digits.
With 17 minutes and four seconds remaining in the second half, Purdue led 36-27 on freshman point guard Ronnie Johnson's layup.
But at the 14:22 mark, Marvin Fitzgerald's jumper knotted the score at 42-all, erasing a home-team lead that had peaked at 14 in the first half. Fitzgerald dropped 18 points before getting ejected in the game's closing minutes.
This season, Purdue will probably go only as far as its young players can take it. With five freshmen expected to play big minutes - Ronnie Johnson and redshirt freshman forward Donnie Hale started Tuesday night - there are simply too many of them for that to not be the case.
In this instance, though, Purdue needed a few of its veterans to see it through.
Sophomore Anthony Johnson hit a jumper to give Purdue the lead back. Montevallo tied it again, but junior Terone Johnson matched it with a pair of foul shots, then a jumper off an offensive rebound.
The Falcons rallied to tie it again, but Anthony Johnson split a pair of free throws to give Purdue the lead back, this time for good. The guard's three-pointer pushed the Boilermaker lead back to four and Purdue was never threatened again.
Purdue was led by its three namesakes.
Terone Johnson scored a game-high 24 points, making 7-of-14 shots, 3-of-7 threes and 7-of-9 free throws.
"He was more aggressive, more comfortable out there," Painter said. "Going 7-of-9 from the free throw line, we should have stopped the game and had a party, made it a national holiday."
That was a joke, of course, a nod to the junior's sub-50-percent foul shooting from a year ago.
Anthony Johnson scored 12 points and Ronnie Johnson added 11 to go along with six assists to just two turnovers.
It's been well-documented how much different Purdue will be this year with a very different roster make-up than a year ago.
It was evident when freshman center A.J. Hammons entered the game at the 11:46 mark of the first half. Purdue immediately looked to get the ball inside and the 7-footer generated five quick points off his first three touches near the rim, two of them off post feeds and the other an offensive rebound.
Thirty-two of Purdue's points Tuesday night came in the paint; a team that fired at will last season only tried 18 threes.
"Getting the ball inside, that's way different than last year," Terone Johnson said, "when we played a more perimeter game."
Purdue didn't look inside much last season, as it played for threes from the perimeter.
Its rust showed.
The Boilermakers turned the ball over 11 times, at least a couple of them off post entries.
"We took a year off from feeding post, so I can't expect them to be good," Painter joked.
Montevallo made its second-half run in part by virtue of its ability to capitalize on Purdue mistakes, getting transition buckets off a turnover and deflected shot in one brief span.
Purdue's defense was about what you'd expect from an exhibition opener: A work in progress. But the Boilermakers did force 16 turnovers, igniting a couple fast breaks.
It wasn't as much Boilermaker breakdowns, though, as it was Falcon shot-making.
For one thing, Montevallo made at least three shots in the first half alone just before the shot-clock buzzer.
In the second half, it buried five of its nine threes for the game.
"They made tough shots, too," Painter said. "Any time guys can shoot off the dribble contested shots, that's normally a low-percentage shot."
It might raise an eyebrow or two that Purdue had to battle in the second half to fend off a D-II team with nowhere near the size or, quite frankly, the ability of its Big Ten host.
But it was just an exhibition game, and Painter's mixing and matching of personnel seemed to undercut his team's ability to finish off what looked in the first half to be a game it would control start to finish.
"I ruined what we started," Painter said of his substituting in the final eight minutes of the first half. "I subbed. I allowed them to stay close. I got in a bad mix and we're up eight at half.
"I'd do it again, though, in an exhibition."
Eight Boilermakers played 15 minutes or more, none more than 26.
In addition to the three Johnsons, Purdue got eight points and three blocked shots out of Hale. Hammons scored seven and grabbed five rebounds in his debut. Center Sandi Marcius collected seven rebounds in 16 minutes.
Purdue blocked eight shots, but only outrebounded Montevallo by four.
"I thought we were soft tonight," Painter said. "In terms of just being physical, I thought that was pretty poor."
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