Purdue finally started to get on track offensively its last time out. A game against defensively challenged Valparaiso should only help.
The unbeaten and fifth-ranked Boilermakers try to build on their best offensive game of the season when they host the Crusaders on Wednesday night.
Purdue (7-0) won its first six games despite shooting 26.6 percent from 3-point range and no better than 46.2 percent overall in any contest. It put an end to those woes in a 101-65 victory over Buffalo on Saturday.
The Boilermakers shot 52.2 percent and recorded their highest-scoring game since a 102-65 win over Southeast Missouri State on Dec. 30, 2006.
Purdue spent the first half attacking the basket before going to the perimeter in the second, connecting on 11 of 16 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes. It finished a season-best 12 of 24 from beyond the arc.
Chris Kramer had a season-high 14 points on 6 of 6 from the field, and hopes that shooting performance is a sign of things to come.
“I don’t think we need to do anything different,” he said. “We get looks early and often, we just need to knock them down.”
E’Twaun Moore also scored 14 points Saturday, while JaJuan Johnson added 12 and Robbie Hummel finished with 11. The Boilermakers are off to their best start since the Glenn Robinson-led 1993-94 team opened a school-best 14-0.
“It’s satisfaction of having success and getting better,” coach Matt Painter said. “It’s not one of our goals to go 7-0. We go to the next game.”
That would be a matchup with Valparaiso (3-5), one of the worst defensive teams in the nation.
The Crusaders are yielding an average of 81.1 points, and let then-No. 23 Butler shoot 56.8 percent from the floor in an 84-67 loss Saturday.
Although Valpo is struggling defensively this season, it limited the Boilermakers to 36.4 percent shooting in Purdue’s 59-45 win Dec. 28.
The Boilermakers have won eight straight over the Crusaders since a 114-96 loss Dec. 22, 1965, and lead the series 13-1.
Moore scored a game-high 14 points against Valpo last season while Johnson added 10. Those two have led Purdue on offense this season, with Moore averaging a team-high 16.4 points and Johnson at 14.0.
Having struggled to score for much of the season, Purdue has relied on defense. The Boilermakers limited Buffalo to 34.3 percent from the floor and held their last three opponents to an average of 53.7 points.
Purdue will now focus on trying to slow down Crusaders guard Brandon Wood, who looks to bounce back from his worst game of the season.
Wood entered Saturday’s Horizon League opener averaging 23.0 points, 12th in the nation, but finished with seven. He was held scoreless until the 10:02 mark of the second half and went 2 of 6 from the field.
Wood had better luck in Valpo’s two other games against ranked opponents this season. The transfer from Southern Illinois scored 30 points in an 88-77 loss to then-No. 6 North Carolina on Nov. 15 and had 24 in a 90-60 defeat to then-No. 2 Michigan State on Nov. 22.
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