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Purdue Men Go To 3-0, But Tougher Schedule Awaits In Maui

Stan Jastrzebski

A major factor in several losses for Purdue's football team this year has been the team's deficits -- not on the scoreboard, but in personnel. A Boilermaker math major might make an equation out of it: fewer athletes means fewer wins.

Men's basketball coach Matt Painter has had many more years to find Big Ten-caliber athletes than has Darrell Hazell, and it's beginning to turn those deficits into dividends.

Downplayed in the team's first two wins was defense that's been stifling at times. And on Thursday, Painter channeled a bit of the defensive strategy of Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim -- recruit lanky, athletic players, install a zone defense and dare the opposition to beat you from the outside.

Purdue's 2-3 zone held Grambling (1-2) to just 15 points in both the first and second halves on the way to an 82-30 win.

Purdue streaked out to a 28-5 lead as Grambling turned the ball over on six of its first nine possessions and registered more giveaways than made shots for the game.

It led to another night where the Boilers went to their bench early and often and a game in which the scoring was much more balanced than in a 20-point win over IUPUI Sunday where Vince Edwards and Kendall Stephens combined for 50 of the team's 77 points.

Isaac Haas led the team with 17 points, but scored many of them in the waning minutes of the second half. All told, 12 different Boilermakers got into the scoring column as the team patiently passed the ball around the perimeter and reversed the ball multiple times in a possession waiting for an opportune shot.

But to look at the stats, it wouldn't appear the Boilermakers shot the ball well from the field. The team knocked down 49-percent of its shots, but many of those came off of offensive rebounds. The team grabbed 15 offensive boards and continued to dominate its opponents in scoring near the basket, winning the points in the paint battle 44-12.

Once again, some of the sneakiest work on the offensive glass was courtesy of Edwards, looking a little like a latter-day Dennis Rodman -- not the tallest guy on the court, but sneaky about getting into position and moving around box-outs from bigger defenders to grab the rebound. Consequently, it was Edwards who (again) was the team's leading rebounder, not usual suspect A.J. Hammons.

Though the team was proficient enough from the field, the free throw line continues to be a Boiler bugaboo. The team came into the game shooting 61-percent for the year and made 11 of 17 against Grambling (65-percent).

The game was a homecoming of sorts for two Tigers who played their high school ball in Indianapolis: Richard Freeman and Lonnie McElwain. But the return to the Hoosier State was anything but hospitable, as the duo combined to shoot 0-for-8 and tally just two points.

The mismatches will cease for a couple weeks, however, as Purdue is off to Hawaii to continue the Maui Invitational -- the first game of which they won on opening night against Samford (albeit far from the South Pacific).

The weather will be warmer as the team heads west and the team will look to match it as they face Kansas State (2-0) Monday.