Purdue faces critical juncture
After its historic home loss to Indiana and possibly an even more troubling loss at Northwestern, Purdue could be standing on the precipice with its season.
A loss in Happy Valley to a Penn State team still seeking its first conference win could push the Boilermakers over the edge, with their season possibly spiraling out of control. Purdue (11-11, 4-5 Big Ten) will try to get back to .500 in conference play on Tuesday night at the Nittany Lions (8-13, 0-9).
Coach Matt Painter believes what ails the Boilermakers is correctable.
“We have to do a better job of competing, we have to do a better job of executing on both ends of the court,” he said. “That’s where it starts, just playing hard. And then there’s a lot of other things when you get beat like we did against Indiana, there’s more than just a couple issues there — there’s a lot of issues. It has to start with playing harder, competing and doing a better job of just simply doing our job.
“We had a tough week, to say the least, last week. … Hopefully we can learn a lot from this past week, and hopefully push forward, and have a better week.”
For the first time, Purdue faces an opponent in a second game this season. The Boilermakers topped the Lions 60-42 on Jan. 13 at Mackey Arena, their eighth win in the last nine games of the series, with the lone loss a 65-45 shellacking last season at Penn State.
In West Lafayette less than a month ago, Purdue held the Lions to 25.9 percent shooting (15-of-58). D.J. Newbill (currently averaging 15.7 points per game) had nine points on 3-of-12 shooting, and Jermaine Marshall (15.0) had eight on 3-of-13.
“You’re going to make an adjustment in certain areas when you play people, especially if you struggled a little bit,” Painter said. “It’s important to go back and watch your game, and it’s also important to go back and watch the most recent games. Sometimes it can help you, sometimes it can hurt you when you play that second time. You’re more familiar, but so are they, so you’re really in the same boat. You just try your best to get your guys to understand and grasp the breakdowns you had and why you had them in the first game, and also don’t neglect the things you did well. You want to be able to continue to do so, and not take them for granted.”
Around the rim: A.J. Hammons on Monday was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, after averaging 24.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots, including scoring a career-high 30 points against Indiana and grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds at Northwestern. … Painter said Dru Anthrop would miss at least a couple of weeks, after the senior guard broke a bone in his left hand at Northwestern. … Terone Johnson apparently was ill last week, but was feeling better this week.