Purdue hoops learn winning lesson from losses

Purdue center Isaac Haas (44) drives to the basket against Arizona during a game Friday at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Photo courtesy of Bahamas Visual Services Photo via AP)
Purdue center Isaac Haas (44) wins the tip-off over Arizona forward Deandre Ayton (13) during a game Friday in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas. (Photo courtesy of Bahamas Visual Services via AP)
Purdue forward Matt Haarms (32) celebrates an early lead over Arizona during a game in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Island, Bahamas Friday. (Photo courtesy of Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

You can look at a strategy on how to win a basketball game a couple of ways.

First, you can outscore your opponent, or secondly, you can keep your opponent from scoring more than you.

Success all depends on your perspective, and veteran Purdue men’s basketball coach Matt Painter can see both paths being followed at various times by his program this season.

In the Boilermakers’ latest win, an incredibly impressive 89-64 rout of Arizona, Purdue (5-2) did a little bit of both to the Wildcats.

The Boilermakers limited Arizona to a meager 42 percent shooting, but conversely, they made over 57 percent of their own shots. But that wasn’t the case in earlier losses against Tennessee and Western Kentucky.

“I thought Tennessee and Western Kentucky just beat us,” Painter said following the Arizona victory. “We have to do a better job when shots don’t fall our way.”

Painter explained that there will be nights in which the offense isn’t as efficient and crisp as it was against the oft-stunned Wildcats. When that occurs, not only do the Boilermaker players have to be prepared for such, they also have to figure out how to handle the game once they are involved in it.

“Sometimes,” Painter said, “when your shots don’t fall, it affects the rest of your game.”

In the two losses, Purdue played fairly well defensively against Tennessee (the Vols shot 36 percent from the field), but it didn’t take care of the ball (18 turnovers) or rebound well (a minus 9 deficit), while shooting poorly itself (37 percent from the field).

Against Western Kentucky, it was another anemic offensive performance (40 percent shooting) that did the Boilermakers in.

“Just not to play through your shooting,” Painter said of his message to his players following the Arizona win. “Make better decisions (and) when shots don’t go in, you can still make good decisions and guard and rebound.”

A year ago, Purdue won 17 of its 19 games in which it limited the opposition to 48 percent shooting or less. Every game throughout the remainder of this season will fall on either side of that statistic, so the Boilermakers have to hear Painter’s post-win message and apply it going forward.

“We have to do a better job of being prepared,” Painter said. “They all can shoot the basketball, so when shots don’t go for them; you just have to get lost in doing little things, playing defense, and rebounding.”

“Things get magnified when you get into a possession game.”

The Boilermakers have been outrebounded three times already this season and now face Louisville Tuesday at 8 p.m. (ESPN), which is crushing its opponents by a plus-6 margin on the glass.

Against Arizona, the Boilermakers outrebounded the long and athletic ‘Cats by 10.

“When you get out of a possession game,” Painter said, “and you beat somebody handily, things get a little easier. It’s good that we were resilient and bounced back and won a game, but I don’t think that it answered what happened in the other two games.”

“In the other two games, we didn’t make shots. You have to be able to win versus good people when the ball doesn’t go in.”

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