No. 4 Purdue 90, SIU-Edwardsville 63
Purdue center JaJuan Johnson wanted to spice things up Tuesday night.
His teammates took the cue.
With a quick flurry on both ends of the court, Johnson almost single-handedly got the Boilermakers out of a first-half funk and led No. 4 Purdue to a 90-63 rout over Division I upstart SIU-Edwardsville.
``One of the things we talked about at the beginning of the season was to have fun out there, no matter what,'' Johnson said. ``I'm just trying to be more vocal this year, trying to have fun.''
There are no complaints coming from his teammates or coaches.
Purdue (11-0) has matched the second-best start in school history and the longest winning streak since Matt Painter replaced Gene Keady as coach five years ago. The Boilermakers won't play again until the Big Ten opener Dec. 29 at Iowa.
And the unbeaten Boilermakers just keep finding new ways to win.
On Tuesday, a night that their trademark defense had problems, Johnson finished with 16 points, six rebounds, four blocks and three steals. E'Twaun Moore added 15 points and three assists. Three other players - Keaton Grant, Robbie Hummel and Patrick Bade - scored in double figures and Chris Kramer had five assists, two blocks and two steals as Purdue took advantage of an undermanned opponent.
``It seemed like they got a little tired, but we kept playing, kept playing hard, increasing the lead,'' Moore said, smiling.
The tandem of Johnson and Moore made sure of it.
With Purdue leading 27-22 midway through the first half, the two juniors ditched their blue-collar image for some much-needed flair.
Johnson got it started with a thunderous dunk that shook the backboard and brought back some energy from the crowd - and his teammates. Johnson followed that with a 17-foot jumper and then a block that led to two free throws from Kramer. Suddenly, it was 33-22.
``That's one of the things Coach Painter says, that I've got to have a motor on both ends of the floor,'' Johnson said. ``That's really what I'm trying to do.''
Moore then came up with a nifty steal, drove the length of the floor and made an acrobatic dunk.
The combination changed everything.
Over the final 5 1/2 minutes of the first half, Purdue forced six turnovers, blocked two more shots and did not allow a basket. It closed the half on an 11-0 run against the Cougars to take a 48-28 halftime lead.
Mark Yelovich finished with 23 points for the Cougars (2-10), who are in the second year of a 4-year transition to Division I. SIU-Edwardsville was 10 of 16 on 3s, but they had only five more total rebounds (28) than Purdue had on the offensive end. The Cougars committed 19 turnovers.
SIU-Edwardsville has lost four straight, all by at least 15 points.
``I'll take that (first 14 minutes) any day,'' coach Lennox Forrester said. ``I'll take that because I know how hard they play defensively and they feed off their defense. We got tired, we got mentally weak and we did a poor job by not taking care of the basketball.''
In the second half, the Cougars regrouped. They used an 11-2 run to close to 52-39 with 15:25 to go.
But the Boilermakers dominated the middle, again. Moore's tip-in started an 11-5 run that gave Purdue a 63-44 lead, and the Boilermakers closed it out with a 16-3 run, the final points coming on another Johnson jumper, that made it 79-49 with 6:04 to go.
The Cougars couldn't get closer than 25 the rest of the night.
``I think we've had some times in the past couple of years where we've had some letdowns after playing some so-called big games, and I think it's because of our maturity that we've been ready to play every game this year,'' Painter said. ``I thought even though there were some things in the game, especially our 3-point defense, that we have to work on going into the Iowa game, I thought there were some good things.''