Purdue coasts to 77-52 victory over Penn State
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The way it played this week, No. 21 Purdue is acting like a team that is determined to be in the race for the Big Ten championship all the way to the end of the regular season.
Caleb Swanigan had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Purdue built an 18-point halftime lead and coasted to a 77-52 victory over Penn State on Saturday, four days after shooting 60.4 percent in a 91-68 victory against Illinois.
Against Penn State, the Boilermakers (16-4, 5-2) got 13 points from freshman guard Carsen Edwards and 10 each from Dakota Mathias and Vince Edwards.
"I would just say we were coming out ready to play," said Vince Edwards, who added seven rebounds and three assists. "Our goal is to win the Big Ten. Our focus is to take care of business."
Josh Reaves led Penn State (11-9, 3-4) with 12 points. The Nittany Lions made only 20 of 64 field goal attempts (31.3 percent) and were outrebounded 39-30. Purdue shot 56.6 percent (30 of 53).
"I think we just knocked them out of their rhythm early," Mathias said. "I think that was the key from the start."
The Boilermakers used runs of 15-0 and 13-0 to lead 41-23 through 20 minutes and then had an 8-0 run in the second half when it led by at least 20 points.
"Those runs obviously are a combination of getting stops and scoring the basketball at the same time," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Getting stops is what we always talk about, whether it's a drill or not. You've got to get three stops in a row and score three times in a row. Normally, one team will get a run on the other, and it ends up being the difference in the game."
Purdue had great first-half balance, getting nine points each from Swanigan and Carsen Edwards and eight each from Vince Edwards and Mathias.
For Penn State coach Patrick Chambers, who is 2-8 all-time against Purdue, it was not the game he was hoping for after a heartbreaking 78-75 Wednesday night loss to Indiana, which won on a three-pointer at the buzzer.
"I was looking forward to seeing how we would respond," Chambers said. "We responded early to their first run, but we never responded again late in the first half. We knew Purdue was one of the toughest teams in the league. We've known that for six years."
The game marked the return to Mackey Arena of former coach Gene Keady, who was honored with a bobble head promotion. Keady coached the Boilermakers for 25 seasons.
Penn State: Like most Big Ten teams, the Nittany Lions had no defense for Purdue big men Swanigan and Isaac Haas, and to compound its misery, Penn State shot only 28.1 percent in the first half while being outrebounded 21-14 and turning the ball over seven times.
Purdue: The Boilermakers' balanced scoring helped them build an 18-point halftime lead and show why they should be in the race for the Big Ten championship until the very end, likely battling Maryland and Wisconsin for the regular-season title.
With a 91-68 victory against Illinois on Tuesday and the 25-point victory over Penn State on Saturday, Purdue seems to have built a strong case this week to climb at least several spots in the AP's next Top 25. The Boilermakers shot 60.4 percent in the Illinois game and 56.6 percent against the Nittany Lions.
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Including 19 points and 12 rebounds against Penn State, Swanigan has 10 double-doubles in his last 11 games, missing only in a Jan. 12 loss at Iowa in which he had 17 points and eight rebounds.
Penn State leading scorer Shep Garner came in averaging 12.6 points but scored only six at Purdue, including shooting 3 of 9 from the field and 0 of 5 from three-point range. "It's not Shep's favorite place to play," Chambers said. "They did the same thing last year, and that's my job to work on getting him open. But give the guards from Purdue credit."
Penn State: The Nittany Lions travel to No. 17 Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Purdue: The Boilermakers play at Michigan State on Tuesday.