Purdue opened its men's basketball post-season with a victory over Western Illinois on Wednesday at Mackey Arena.
Here are five keys to Purdue's victory:
Purdue started the game by committing five turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Western Illinois took advantage and built itself a nine-point lead, but then Purdue flipped the script. Over the final ten minutes of the first half Purdue forced seven Western Illinois turnovers and committed only two of its own. That made the difference as Purdue went from nearly behind by double digits to leading at halftime.
2. Second-half three-point shooting
Purdue has had plenty of struggles from long-range this season, but when it is hitting the Boilermakers are tough to beat. In the second half, it's outside shot showed up in a big way. DJ Byrd hit three, Raphael Davis added two and Donnie Hale it one as well. In total, Purdue shot six of seven from three in the second half.
3. A.J. Hammons' size
A.J. Hammons has had a tremendous freshman season and that continued Wednesday night. Hammons led the Boilermakers with 15 points and routinely took control when he was fed the ball inside. Purdue head coach Matt Painter said after the game it was a point of emphasis to get him the ball as Western Illinois's tallest player available was nearly four inches shorter than Hammons. It was evident as the big man was feed the ball and Purdue outscored Western Illinois 40-26 in the paint.
4. Transition points
Western Illinois struggled to get back on defense and keep up with Purdue's speed, especially Ronnie Johnson. When Purdue made its comeback in the first half, a lot of this was because of Johnson taking off after a turnover or missed shot and scoring in transition. Johnson scored six late first half points to help Purdue take the lead for good.
5. Overall depth
Purdue was just a deeper and overall more talented team by a large margin with Western Illinois missing two starters. Purdue eventually took control as it wore down the Leathernecks. The Boilermakers had four players score in double figures, 10 score in total, seven players contribute an assist and ten players also record at least one rebound.