WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP)—Purdue’s troubles ended—and Chicago State’s began—when Melvin Buckley finally started shooting.
With the Cougars using an effective defense on Purdue scoring leader Kenneth Lowe, Buckley came off the bench Saturday and matched his career high with 20 points, including nine in a 15-point run that carried the 20th-ranked Boilermakers to a 75-57 victory.
“When I come in, I really don’t focus on the offensive end. I just try to play good defense,” Buckley said. “But they were doing that to Kenny and he just started setting screens.
“I did a pretty good job stroking the ball, but I need to get in there and get a couple more rebounds,” said the 6-foot-7 sophomore, who was 6-for-11 from the field, including 5-of-9 on 3-pointers.
Buckley had four assists but only one rebound in 27 minutes.
“We couldn’t hit a basket for the first five minutes, so it was a frustrating start,” Purdue coach Gene Keady said. “Buckley came in and played very good offense. He’s a good shooter, and they can’t match up with everybody. They were probably concentrating on Lowe, and he got Buckley open.”
Off to its best season start in 10 years, Purdue (6-0) missed its first eight shots and trailed 10-4 before the first basket by Buckley, a 3-pointer seven minutes into the game. The Cougars (1-5), on their way to their 37th straight road loss and 25th straight loss to a Division I opponent, were then held scoreless for about four minutes.
By the time the Boilermakers’ long streak ended, Buckley and Lowe each had another 3-pointer, Ije Nwankwo scored on a rebound, Buckley added one more basket and free throw and Ivan Kartelo hit one of two free throws for a 19-10 lead.
“Whenever people throw a box-and-one at us, we want to get the guy getting boxed as a screener,” Lowe said. “Melvin played very well. He’s worked hard on his shot, and with more playing time, he’s going to get even better.”
Buckley, who also scored 20 points against LSU last year, added two more 3-pointers in the first half, including one that ended an 11-0 run that gave Purdue its biggest lead of the period at 38-20.
Chicago State came within 40-24 at halftime, but Purdue pulled away at the start of the second half and took its biggest lead at 72-47 on a free throw by Brett Buscher with under two minutes to go.
“This kind of game lets our kids know what it takes to play at this level,” Chicago State coach Kevin Jones said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Jones said Buckley was the key for the Boilermakers.
“I told our kids that if we do a good job on Lowe, somebody else is going to step up, and it was Buckley,” he said.
Rubeen Perry had 16 points and 12 rebounds and Craig Franklin added 16 points. Tony Weeden, the Cougars’ leading scorer at more than 17 points a game, was held scoreless.
David Teague added 10 points, Buscher and Lowe each had nine and Kartelo finished with five points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots.