Men’s basketball: Boilers, D.J. Byrd flying high
By Brian Peloza Post-Tribune correspondent January 19, 2013 9:44PM
Purdue guard/forward D.J. Byrd (21) celebrates in front of center A.J. Hammons during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against West Virginia in West Lafayette, Ind. Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. Purdue defeated West Virginia 79-52. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: January 19, 2013 11:08PM
WEST LAFAYETTE — It wasn’t that long ago when D.J. Byrd missed every 3-pointer he took during losses to Xavier and Eastern Michigan.
Now it seems like he can’t miss.
Byrd continued his hot shooting from the perimeter as Purdue steamrolled West Virginia 79-52 in a nonconference game on Saturday in Mackey Arena.
It’s the third consecutive win for Purdue (10-8) and sixth out of its last eight. Byrd was a big reason why the Boilermakers are two games over .500 for the first time this season.
He led all scorers with 17 points, making 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, adding five rebounds and four assists. In his last nine games Byrd has made 47 percent of his 3-point attempts (27-of-58).
“He feeds off of makes, so it’s really important for him to take good shots,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter. “When he takes good shots normally the ball goes in and then he feeds off of that and plays better.”
Purdue won its previous game, at Nebraska, but not before a 20-point halftime lead dwindled down to five points.
No such problems against West Virginia, as Purdue quickly turned a comfortable 37-23 halftime lead into a lopsided affair.
Raphael Davis scored eight of his 16 points during a 15-4 run to open the second half, pushing Purdue’s lead to 25 points.
“It’s been an emphasis of coming out and not letting (teams) get their heads up,” Byrd said. “We knocked down a couple of shots in a row and then stopped them from hitting some shots. We had a good start in the second half and we need to continue to do that.”
The Mountaineers (8-9) would get no closer than 23 points the remainder of the game and trailed by as many as 31.
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins was less than pleased with his team in the postgame news conference, showing his displeasure through a poignant analysis:
“We ought to be used to not making shots,” Huggins said of his team, which shot 29 percent from the field. “We’re very proficient at it. … We’re so damn bad. I don’t know. Most teams can score if you throw them the ball for layups.”
Huggins critiqued his team for not fully digesting the scouting report, not playing with enough basketball IQ, and also not being able, or willing, to pass the ball in the Mountaineers’ motion offense.
“Unexplainable,” Huggins said. “I’ve done this for a long time and I haven’t seen the some of the stupid stuff we do. ... I just don’t know if we know how to play basketball.”
Purdue started a lineup of three freshmen, Ronnie Johnson, A.J. Hammons and Raphael Davis, along with Byrd and Terone Johnson, for the third consecutive game.
Sandi Marcius, who played at LaPorte LaLumiere, provided four points and four rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench; after playing just 21 minutes in the past nine games, including three in which he didn’t play.
“He’s kept a great attitude in practice and has been positive, and when you do that and get an opportunity in a game, you normally play well,” Painter said.
Purdue has won two of the last three meetings with West Virginia over the past four seasons in what could become an annual series. Huggins said he believes the teams have agreed to meet three more times.
West Virginia was led by Eron Harris, who had 10 points but shot just 2 of 10 from the field. Anthony Johnson added 12 points and had no turnovers for Purdue, while Terone Johnson scored 11.