The seniors look for another big performance as they try to help No. 11 Purdue extend the longest active road winning streak in the nation to 10 against Talor Battle and the Nittany Lions on Wednesday night.
The Boilermakers (13-1, 2-0) are led by Moore and Johnson, averaging 20.4 points and 19.9, respectively. Both players trail only Battle and Northwestern’s John Shurna for the conference scoring lead, as they’re tied for first at 21.3 points per game.
Purdue’s top scorers have spurred the team’s eight-game overall winning streak and nine-game run on the road dating to last season.
Moore tied his season high with 31 points and set a personal best with seven 3-pointers, while Johnson added 19 points and nine rebounds in Friday’s 82-69 home victory over Northwestern.
While the tandem is among the highest scoring in the nation, coach Matt Painter feels Moore is contributing in other facets. The guard has improved his scoring by 4.0 points per game from last season while increasing his rebounding average from 3.8 to 6.1.
“It’s been a work in progress for him,” Painter said. “He keeps making improvements in different areas. He’s done a great job rebounding the basketball for us this year, for instance. When he’s making the right play and letting the game come to him, I wouldn’t trade him for anyone in the country. He’s got some toughness to his game, especially on the defensive end.
“I’m proud of his development, but we’re still going to push him.”
Painter would like to see that improvement against Penn State (8-5, 1-1), as Moore is averaging 11.5 points during Purdue’s four-game winning streak in the series. He was held to nine points on 3-of-10 shooting while Johnson scored 21 and grabbed 10 boards in a 64-60 win in the most recent matchup at Bryce Jordan Center on March 6.
The Boilermakers, who are on their longest overall winning streak since a 10-game run Jan. 19-Feb. 24, have taken 13 of the last 16 meetings against the Nittany Lions. They’ve won five of seven at Penn State.
Purdue is among the best defensive teams in the Big Ten, holding opponents to 56.6 points per game, and that strong play has been evident against Battle.
The senior guard is averaging 11.7 points and shooting 38.9 percent in seven games - six losses - versus the Boilermakers. He did have 17 points in the latest meeting.
Battle is coming off another strong performance in a losing effort. He matched his season high with 31 points as the Nittany Lions fell 76-69 at Michigan on Saturday to lose for the third time in four games.
Battle is averaging 26.0 points in Penn State’s losses compared to 18.4 in the victories.
The Nittany Lions have lost nine in a row to ranked opponents with three of those defeats coming against Purdue.