WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP)—Purdue coach Matt Painter knew E’Twaun Moore was too good a shooter to keep missing.
Moore rewarded his coach’s faith with a season-high 26 points in No. 19 Purdue’s 81-67 win over rival Indiana on Saturday.
Moore was 5-of-6 from 3-point range after going just 2-of-16 from there the previous five games.
“I thought earlier in the year, it was just a matter of time before he has a big-time game,” Painter said. “In the first half, he just kind of established himself with the 3s. It really looked like he was in kind of a rhythm.”
Moore made three 3-pointers in the first 7 minutes of the game.
“The shots just felt good,” Moore said. “Once you make the first one, the second one, OK, OK, it’s going to make, fall there. You get your confidence up, then the next few, you just try to stroke them.”
Moore played an efficient game, reaching his point total on just 14 shots.
“I thought he did a good job of, especially after he hit some, of not forcing things, letting things come to him, sharing the basketball and doing some good things,” Painter said. “He’s a good player, and that’s why I think sometimes, he’s so confident, he thinks he can make them all. When he shares the basketball, moves without the basketball, he’s a very good basketball player.”
JaJuan Johnson had 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks for the Boilermakers (21-6, 10-4 Big Ten), who won their fourth straight.
Purdue followed a 72-54 win over No. 6 Michigan State on Tuesday with its highest scoring output in conference play. The Boilermakers shot 57 percent from the field, their second-best effort of the season.
The Boilermakers put up the high point total despite shooting 18-of-33 from the free throw line. Purdue attempted 20 more free throws than Indiana.
“Your honest feelings is that we should have played a little bit harder, we should have played better, we should have played better defense,” Painter said. “What happens when you miss free throws, it takes the wind out of your sail. You do positive things and you come away with zero points or one point. It’s hard. If we could have made our free throws today, it would have been a different game.”
Verdell Jones III had 16 points, Tom Pritchard scored 12 and Kyle Taber added 10 for Indiana (6-20, 1-13), which lost its fifth straight.
Indiana coach Tom Crean felt his team played well.
“There’s no doubt, Purdue’s going to bring an all-out, get into it mind-set into the game, and we had to do the same thing,” he said. “For the most part, we did play with that kind of spirit and toughness.”
Crean said he was proud of the way his team rebounded from a disappointing performance in a 68-51 loss to Wisconsin on Thursday night.
“We had to come back in a hurry,” he said. “I thought these guys did. I thought they were locked into preparation and really, more than anything, we had to get our focus where it needed to be, and we went into battle.”
Moore was too much for Indiana’s defensive game plan. He scored 18 points in the first half as the Boilermakers took a 39-30 lead.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but E’Twaun Moore is a great player,” Jones said. “We have to help whoever’s guarding him more.”
Indiana trimmed Purdue’s lead to 47-39 early in the second half, but the Boilermakers responded with a 6-0 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Bobby Riddell, to take a 53-39 lead.
Purdue forward Robbie Hummel took a hit to the face on a pick from Pritchard with about 6 minutes to play and left the game. The Boilermakers led 62-53 when Hummel, who appeared woozy when he first sat up after the contact from Pritchard’s shoulder, left. Hummel told Painter his knee and face were sore, but he was fine, even signing autographs after the game.
Indiana cut the lead to 66-57, but a 3-pointer by Moore and a layup by Chris Kramer pushed the lead back to 14 points with just over 2 minutes to play.
Pritchard’s pick triggered a run of chippy play. Several times, the officials spoke with players about throwing elbows and other examples of excessive physical play, though no technical fouls were called.
“Sometimes, while they’re trying to get into you and you’re trying to clear space, there’s going to be some contact,” Painter said. “I just told our guys just keep their elbows down … be smart. You get elbowed, you get pushed, something happens—don’t be the guy that retaliates. With that being said, don’t be the guy that starts it either.”
Painter was disappointed Indiana shot 50 percent.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of not letting the ball get in the paint, and when we do, we’ve got to do a better job of rotating and not allowing layups,” he said.