While Purdue’s Robbie Hummel is out for the season, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore showed early signs of being able to pick up the slack.
The two players look for another big effort when they lead the No. 14 Boilermakers into their first meeting with Alcorn State on Wednesday night.
With its star forward out for the season due to a knee injury, few expect Purdue (1-0) to make a run at the Big Ten title or national championship. Johnson and Moore, though, looked determined to make sure the Boilermakers remain contenders during the opener.
Johnson had 10 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks while Moore added 16 points in a 76-40 win over Howard on Sunday.
Johnson was 3 of 7 from the field, but coach Matt Painter wasn’t concerned.
“His shots aren’t going in right now, but they will,” Painter said. “He’s put in too much time, he’s too skilled of a guy. You always look at his stat line and think he can do more, but then you walk in at halftime, and he has 10 rebounds. That’s pretty good.”
Painter also has the Boilermakers focused on playing tough defense in an attempt to minimize Hummel’s absence, and they held Howard to 24.6 percent shooting and 1 for 7 from 3-point range.
“I think us playing good team defense will help us win a lot of ball games,” said Moore, who led Purdue with 16.4 points last season. “We have a lot of players who played last year, so they kind of know what’s going on the defensive end. We just have to keep putting it all together.”
The Boilermakers have won 12 in a row at home against non-conference opponents, and 15 of 16 overall against non-league foes. The lone defeat was 70-57 to then-No. 3 Duke in the regional semifinals of last season’s NCAA tournament.
Alcorn State (0-2), which went 2-29 last season, seems unlikely to end Purdue’s home winning streak.
The Braves have lost their last nine meetings with ranked opponents, getting outscored by 37.8 points a game. They fell by an average of 53.5 points in two matchups with Top 25 teams in 2009-10.
Alcorn State is shooting 32.5 percent this season, falling 88-68 at Houston on Sunday after an 88-56 defeat to Texas A&M two days prior.
Marquis Baker scored 23 points off the bench against the Cougars, but the junior guard went 1 of 8 from the floor and missed all five shots from beyond the arc to finish with four points versus the Aggies.