Cline, No. 23 Purdue cruise past North Carolina A&T 81-40
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) With plenty of size on the interior and several perimeter shooters, No. 23 Purdue can score in a variety of ways.
Just ask North Carolina A&T.
Kendall Stephens and Ryan Cline each made four 3-pointers, and the Boilermakers beat the Aggies 81-40 on Friday night in the Naismith Hall of Fame Tipoff Classic.
''Look at the stats,'' Stephens said. ''We have six people with darn near the same point total. I think with this team, when we see someone else make a basket, it's like us making a basket. We've got great chemistry, and we definitely feed off each other.''
The Boilermakers, who feature 7-foot-2 sophomore Isaac Haas, 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons and 6-9 freshman McDonald's All-American Caleb Swanigan, faced a 2-3 zone during a first half in which Purdue made eight 3-pointers in 20 attempts. It finished 12 for 31 from long range, while the Aggies missed each of their 15 attempts from beyond the arc.
Stephens had 12 of his 14 points in the first half, and Rapheal Davis added 10 of his 14. Cline finished with 13 points and Vince Edwards had 11.
''They were contesting the inside, but I was doing my role and keeping them occupied,'' said Haas, who had 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots. ''That opened shots for my teammates.''
Hammons, Purdue's leading returning scorer at 11.9 points a game, did not play in the season opener for each school. He also did not play in a Nov. 8 exhibition game. Coach Matt Painter has not elaborated on the reason for his absence, only saying Hammons ''has to take care of some things.''
The benching is not expected to be a prolonged issue.
Purdue scored 34 of the final 42 points of the first half and led 44-16 at the break.
Swanigan had five points, six rebounds and a steal in 15 first-half minutes. He finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
''The thing I wanted to see tonight was us taking good shots,'' Painter said. ''We need to be patient. Kendall really got us going, but it is going to be important for us to continue to have that balance of inside and outside.''
The Boilermakers' aggressive man-to-man defense limited the Aggies to 6-of-26 shooting (23.1 percent) in the first half, including 0 of 7 from beyond the arc.
Purdue increased its lead to 61-25 on a Cline 3-pointer with 11:54 remaining. Cline's fourth 3-pointer made it 78-32 with 4:31 to play.
Bruce Beckford led the Aggies with nine points.
''We got beat by a very good team,'' North Carolina A&T coach Cy Alexander said. ''Purdue has size, shooters and good athletes. Our game plan was to pack it in and make them shoot it from the outside. They went on a 24-4 run, and for all practical purposes, that was the game.''
North Carolina A&T: The Aggies are coming off a 9-23 season. ... Alexander is in his 27th season as a head coach and his fourth at North Carolina A&T.
Purdue: Purdue improved to 97-21 all-time in season openers ... Swanigan is the 12th freshman to start a season opener during the Painter era and only the 17th in school history. ... The Boilermakers improved to 9-0 all-time against members of the MEAC Conference ... Purdue is 22-17 all-time against North Carolina-based opponents.
ON THE RISE
Swanigan and Cline finished 1-2 in Indiana's 2015 Mr. Basketball voting. In their college debuts, they combined for 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. They were a combined 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.
Davis, the 2015 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, had a typical night, also collecting two rebounds, three assists and a steal while limiting Beckford to 1-of-8 shooting.
North Carolina A&T visits Florida on Monday.
Purdue hosts Vermont on Sunday.