Purdue hopes win against Northwestern was not a fluke
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org February 26, 2013 10:54PM
The Big Number
Terone Johnson’s 3-point shooting percentage in the last four games, going 9-of-16, including making a career-high four in five attempts against Northwestern. Before this stretch, he had gone 0-of-7 from deep in the previous threegames.
Senior guard Dru Anthrop returned against Northwestern, having missed the last four games after suffering a broken bone in his left hand in the first game against the Wildcats on Feb. 2. He played 17 minutes — his highest total in a Big Ten game and second highest of the season overall — with that hand wrapped.
“Dru’s battling to get back, just giving us somebody out there that’s steady, that can make an open shot, get the ball where it needs to be,” coach Matt Painter said. “It was good to get him back. In his senior year, the last thing you want to do is finish on an injury, and not get a chance to play, so it was good to see him get out there and play.”
Updated: March 28, 2013 6:48AM
The ball moved. Players moved.
There were open jump shots, and effective drives, and well-executed entry passes.
Purdue showed a certain cohesiveness, largely previously unseen, in Sunday’s 74-43 rout of Northwestern, shooting a season-best 52.9 percent from the field and recording 18 assists on 27 baskets. But was it a product of something clicking for the Boilermakers, having finally received the repeatedly delivered message, capitalizing on the eight days between games; or was it taking advantage of a depleted, reeling Wildcats team, one even younger than themselves at this stage of the season?
“We’ll see, because if it was the style of what we were going against, we’ll have some struggles,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team plays at Iowa (17-10, 6-8 Big Ten) on Wednesday night. “But if it was a step in the right direction in terms of sharing the basketball, and we did a better job of driving the ball and kicking it to the open guy, you’re just trying to get a better shot. Time will tell. But it was good to see our guys step up and take some shots in rhythm and knock them down.”
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Boilermakers (13-14, 6-8). They still committed 15 turnovers, including 10 in the first half. They still went 13-of-23 from the foul line.
But they still won, no small feat, snapping a three-game losing streak and a stretch of five losses in six games.
“Any win’s important when you’re struggling,” Painter said. “When you have struggles, you’re just trying to play well at that time, and be able to get a win just to build confidence, for your guys’ own sanity, because when you have some tough losses, you do get down on yourself.
You want to be able to get a win, and hope to string some wins together, and just continue to build confidence. It wasn’t necessarily a win versus a certain opponent; it’s actually getting a win that’s the key.”
Purdue now will try to put together back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan. 16 and 19 (at Nebraska and against West Virginia to close a three-game streak). Iowa, which is 13-2 at home, lost 64-60 at Nebraska on Saturday, damaging its NCAA Tournament chances, after three straight wins.
Purdue has won 11 of its last 12 games against Iowa, including three in a row.
On Jan. 27 at Mackey Arena, the Boilermakers edged the Hawkeyes 65-62 in overtime; they squandered an 11-point lead with eight minutes left in the second half, got the tying basket from Terone Johnson with a half-minute left, avoided Iowa scoring the winning basket at the end of regulation, then went ahead for good on Ronnie Johnson’s basket with a minute-and-a-half left in OT.
“With those guys, they’ve been able to play small and at times they play big,” Painter said of the Hawkeyes. “They’ve been kind of searching for the right mix of guys on each given night. That’s been the question at times. Right now, they’re playing a little bit bigger, and they did that during the course of our game; they didn’t start that way. … Searching for the right mix has really been the question for them, and that’s from an outsider looking in.”