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Up next for Purdue: Today vs. Indiana

Purdue center A.J. Hammons figures to play a big role against Indiana at Mackey Arena. (File photo by the Associated Press)
Purdue center A.J. Hammons figures to play a big role against Indiana at Mackey Arena. (File photo by the Associated Press)

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Boilers seek end to series losing streak

Saturday, February 15, 2014 12:01 am
Up next for Purdue: Today vs IndianaWhen: 4 p.m.

Where: Mackey Arena

On the air: ESPN

Records: Purdue (14-10 overall, 4-7 Big Ten), Indiana (14-10, 4-7)

Expected starters for the Boilers: Ronnie Johnson – 6-0 sophomore guard, Terone Johnson – 6-4 senior guard, Rapheal Davis — 6-5 sophomore guard, Basil Smotherman – 6-5 freshman forward, A.J. Hammons – 7-foot sophomore center.

Update: Purdue has lost five of its last six games. It's also lost four straight times to Indiana, all by at least 11 points. Last year the margins were by 37 and 28 points. Before that the Boilers had beaten the Hoosiers five straight times. Coach Matt Painter isn't worried about that nearly as much as he is getting his players to maximize their potential. He wants smarter, tougher play. He wants fewer turnovers and better shooting and consistency. Senior Terone Johnson needs to regain his shooting touch after some recent struggles — and he's put in lots of extra shooting time this week. It needs to pay off, because if he can't make end-of-game free throws, he can't play at the end of games.

Center A.J. Hammons could be the Big Ten's best big man if he would pay attention to the little things. As Painter has said, Hammons could average a double double if he stayed focused. It would be nice if forward Jay Simpson finally — finally — played to his potential. The Fort Wayne connection – Rapheal Davis and Bryson Scott – is making major impact. Davis is coming off an 11-point effort (on 5-for-5 shooting) against Ohio State. Scott's decision making has greatly improved. Also, former Purdue All-America Joe Barry Carroll will be honored during the game.

A big key is containing IU's transition game. Forcing the Hoosiers into a half-court approach is one of the surest ways to victory.

Coach Matt Painter: “We're working on the basketball issues and staying together. If you stay together, you'll improve. If you separate, you go the other way.

“We spent this week more focused on trying to take care of the ball, making better decision and being more consistent. More the things you can control. We've struggled the last couple of years against Indiana. We're trying to keep our focus on what we need to do to be in position to win.

(Painter's message to the team): We're in a tough spot. We haven't shown enough passion as a team. We have to have more fight as a group. We have to play harder together and smarter together. We're trying to relay that. We've tried to do it all season. We've made some strides, but we're not where we need to be to be consistently successful.

“We have identical records overall and in the conference. Any time have you those kind of records there is inconsistency there. It's hard to gauge inconsistent teams. Both have played well. Both have had struggles. Both teams have struggled to take care of ball. No matter who we play, we have to take care of ball and be efficient on the offensive end.”

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

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