WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The Purdue Boilermakers didn't learn much about themselves in a 79-50 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday night.
A bigger test will come Sunday at West Virginia in Purdue's final non-conference game. The Boilermakers' victory on Tuesday was their fourth in five games, yet they lack a signature win.
"I think we have the guys and the talent to be really good, but we haven't beat anybody on our schedule that's going to help us in terms of getting an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "You win a lot of home games, but you have to be able to go on the road, you have to be able to go to a neutral site and win some games. This West Virginia game is a huge game for us."
To Purdue's credit, the Boilermakers don't have any really bad losses. They avoided one by handling business against an outmanned Eastern Shore squad. Terone Johnson scored 14 points, Errick Peck scored nine points and A.J. Hammons had eight points and seven rebounds for Purdue (9-3), which improved to 8-0 at Mackey Arena this season.
The Boilermakers weren't as strong in the second half. The Boilermakers know the competition around the corner is much better, and their up-and-down play won't cut it in a conference with three teams in the top five in the latest AP poll.
"I think we're pretty good, we just have a problem with playing full games," Johnson said. "I don't know if that's the youth or us not keeping our composure all of the time. We would go certain possessions in a row where we look like a team who could win the Big Ten, then we'll go a couple of possession where we look like we'd be last in the Big Ten. If we're able to take away those lows and keep the highs up and not get too high off of it, I think we could be really good."
Purdue committed just 10 turnovers after giving the ball up 18 times in its previous game, a loss to Butler on Saturday. Painter wasn't impressed.
"Our decision-making right now is not very good," he said. "Even though we only had 10 turnovers I thought we had some shots that were bad shots that are just like turnovers."
KyRee Jones scored 23 points on 7-for-17 shooting for Maryland-Eastern Shore (2-6), but his teammates shot a combined 10 for 33 as the Hawks posted a season-low point total. It also was the lowest total Purdue has allowed this season.
Eastern Shore freshman guard Hakeem Baxter, the team's leading scorer heading into the game, sat out after falling on his wrist Saturday against Oregon State.
Maryland-Eastern Shore scored the first points of the game, but Purdue scored the next 14 and forced a timeout. The Boilermakers held the Hawks scoreless for six minutes during that run.
Eastern Shore tried to make a game of it and cut its deficit to 14-8, but Purdue pulled away. The Boilermakers shot 56 percent in the first half, and Ronnie Johnson made a layup at the buzzer to give Purdue a 37-17 lead at the break.
Peck came off the bench and scored nine points in 10 minutes in the first half while Terone Johnson had eight points and four rebounds before the break for Purdue.
Eastern Shore shot just 21 percent from the field in the first half and made just 2 of 14 shots inside the three-point line.
Eastern Shore scored the first four points of the second half to make the crowd a bit uneasy, but the Boilermaker responded with a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach.
Jones carried his weight, scoring 17 of his team's 33 points in the second half. Though Purdue got control of the game, Eastern Shore shot 45 percent after the break.
"The most important thing is your quality of play and we're just inconsistent right now," Painter said. "We're inconsistent in a game, we're inconsistent in halves. We have to find some consistency."
Maryland point guard Melo Trimble, considered a lock to leave the program before struggling in the second half last season, has withdrawn from the NBA draft and will return for his junior season.
Louisville's Chinanu Onuaku, who recently underwent a medical procedure to correct a heart rhythm issue detected during the combine, will keep his name in the NBA draft pool.
Andrew White III will return to the Nebraska men's basketball team next season after removing his name from the NBA draft.
|South Carolina State||12-4||1||19-15|
|North Carolina Central||7-9||6||13-19|
|North Carolina A&T||7-9||6||10-22|