Purdue’s third straight 5-0 start has featured a victory margin of 29.4 points. Saturday night’s matchup should provide more of a test.
The No. 10 Boilermakers will face a Richmond team that fared well against ranked opponents last season when these teams meet for the championship of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.
Purdue shook off a slow start for a 79-60 victory over Southern Illinois on Friday to advance to the title game. The Boilermakers made 1 of 13 shots in the first 8:25 and were fortunate to be trailing only 13-7.
The rest of the half went smoothly as Purdue closed on a 15-2 run for an eight-point edge at the break and never looked back. E’Twaun Moore scored a career-high 31 points.
“We got a little impatient and showed our immaturity as an offensive team early in the game,” coach Matt Painter said. “You’ve got to give them credit for how hard they played and how they came at us to start the game. Once we calmed down and made a couple of shots we were able to build off that.”
Moore added nine rebounds while and JaJuan Johnson scored 18 points. Purdue took advantage of 13 offensive rebounds and forced 25 turnovers while committing only 14 to finish with 18 more shot attempts.
“Out of the two things that enabled us to get the eight-point lead was our offensive rebounding,” Painter said. “We kept getting more opportunities by those 11 offensive rebounds.”
The Boilermakers maintained a steady second-half advantage that never dipped below seven points and grew to 20 points.
Purdue has never faced Richmond (5-1), which won 26 games a season ago to reach the NCAA tournament and went 3-1 against AP Top 25 teams. The Spiders advanced with a 71-61 victory over Wright State on Friday.
Dan Geriot scored a season-high 18 points, Darien Brothers added a career-high 16 and Kevin Anderson had 15. Those three all average in double figures along with Justin Harper, who had a season-low three as he was limited to 17 minutes due to foul trouble.
The 6-foot-10 Harper and 6-9 Geriot will get a chance to try to slow down the 6-10 Johnson, who has three double-doubles this season. Purdue appears to have less balance than Richmond, with Moore averaging 21.8 points and Johnson 17.2 as the only Boilermakers in double figures.
“We told out guys that E’Twaun will be the best guy we’ve seen so far because he’s cerebral, he’s smart and he’s patient,” Southern Illinois coach Chris Lowery said. “And they went exclusively with those two guys (Moore and Johnson). That’s a credit to them, knowing who their bread and butter is and really going to it.”
The Boilermakers will try to slow down a Richmond 3-point attack that is the best in the Atlantic 10 at 43.8 percent. The Spiders made 7 of 14 3-pointers on Friday, including Geriot’s shot with 4:44 remaining put the Spiders ahead for good at 60-57.