Purdue had little trouble winning its season opener with Lewis Jackson serving a one-game suspension.
The team will now be without its starting point guard longer than initially expected.
After Jackson had surgery this past week to repair a foot injury suffered in practice, the seventh-ranked Boilermakers hope to see further improvements from their freshmen Friday when they play South Dakota State in the opening round of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands.
Purdue (1-0) has lofty expectations for this season after returning all five starters from a team that reached the regional semifinals in March, but it will be without one of those veterans for a while.
Jackson, who averaged a team-best 3.3 assists last season while starting 30 games as a freshman, injured his foot in practice last week.
He missed last Friday’s 89-64 win over Cal State Northridge while serving a one-game suspension for playing in an unspecified NCAA-sanctioned event without approval, but was expected to make his season debut in St. Thomas. Instead, Jackson had surgery Tuesday and coach Matt Painter said he’s out indefinitely.
Kelsey Barlow is among the players who will need to pick up the slack. The 6-foot-5 freshman had six points and three assists and showed his potential with a powerful one-handed dunk in the second half.
“Barlow, I thought, showed some flashes of his ability,” Painter said. “He can make some athletic plays.”
Barlow was one of three freshmen that looked strong in the opener. Guard D.J. Byrd had 13 points while forward Patrick Bade had six points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes.
Robbie Hummel said the newcomers will need to continue to provide that level of quality support for the veteran team.
“They’re going to be crucial for us to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament this year,” said Hummel, who had 17 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the opener. “If we can have them play at that kind of level, we’ll be tough to beat.”
The Boilermakers will also be tough on opponents if they come out with the same kind of intensity they had against the Matadors.
Purdue jumped out to a 25-3 lead 5 minutes into the game and led by as many as 37. The smothering defense forced 14 first-half turnovers and limited Northridge to 21.7 percent shooting to take a 55-20 lead into the break.
“You’re always going to look better when you’re making shots,” Painter said. “We also were ready to play, especially on the defensive end.”
This will be the Boilermakers’ first game against South Dakota State, which has opened with back-to-back victories for the first time since joining Division I in 2004-05.
Extending that mark won’t be easy, though, as the Jackrabbits have been outscored by an average of 19.0 points in losing their three games against ranked opponents since making the jump to Division I.
South Dakota State’s coming off Monday’s 89-56 win over Mayville State, an NAIA school, after beating Wyoming 77-61 in last Friday’s season opener.
Through the two games, seniors Garrett Callahan and Kai Williams have each scored 25 points for the Jackrabbits, who went 13-20 last season.
“I don’t think anyone on our team is shocked that we are 2-0 right now,” South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy said.
“I would guess that Purdue’s coach is looking at us going, ‘These guys are a lot better than anybody thought that they were.’”