Eight Straight Wins for Purdue After Dominating Tennessee State
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No. 16 Purdue had Tennessee State right where it wanted the moment the Tigers set foot inside Mackey Arena.
The Boilermakers haven't left the state of Indiana since Dec. 1, meanwhile Tennessee State was playing its fourth road game in 10 days.
Credit the lopsided victory to Purdue coach Matt Painter, who drawing from his own experience had a hunch the Tigers would be entering Thursday night's game vulnerable and exhausted. Not only had the Tigers been traveling since Dec. 12, but they arrived in West Lafayette just three days after taking Texas to the wire in Austin, losing 47-46.
''This was the end of their road trip. They've been on a long road trip and I think it caught up with them,'' Painter said. ''I think anytime you play the way they did the other day at Texas and (almost) win that game, that opens the eyes of our players. Anytime you play a game like that where the game could have went either way on the road against somebody as talented as Texas, it's going to open the eyes of your next opponent and I think it surely did (for us).''
Tennessee State was hanging around early, trailing 16-11, when it was ambushed by Purdue (12-2). The Boilermakers outscored the Tigers 32-5 during the final 14 minutes of the first half, overwhelming a seemingly exhausted team with a balanced offensive attack.
Purdue outscored Tennessee State 20-0 in the paint and shot the basketball well from beyond the arc, making 6 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half. The Boilermakers shot 58 percent from beyond the 3-point line for the game (15 of 26).
''I thought we did a good job of trying to get the ball inside and just moving the basketball. I think we just have a good balance as a team,'' Painter said. ''We had a good balance offensively. We did a good job of being efficient on the offensive end.''
Purdue led by as many as 34 points during the first half, where Tennessee State shot 25 percent (6 of 24) which included a nearly 7-minute span where the Tigers (5-6) didn't make a field goal.
Delano Spencer led the Tigers with 13 points. Christian Mekowulu finished with 10 points for Tennessee State.
The Boilermakers continued their rout in the second half, leading by as many as 49 points.
Purdue finished the game shooting 59 percent (34 of 58) from the field with 25 of those field goals coming by way of an assist. The Boilermakers scored 36 points off 17 Tennessee State turnovers.
Purdue has had no problem scoring this season. Squared off against a mixture of Power 5 and mid-major opponents during their first 13 games, the Boilermakers have made offense look easy. Purdue's lowest point total came in a 66-57 win over Louisville. Even in the Boilermakers' two losses, they still scored 73 and 75 points. With Thursday night's win, Purdue has scored 80 or more points in five of its last six games.
The Boilermakers face just one more non-conference opponent before Big Ten Conference play resumes on Jan. 3 against Rutgers. The Boilermakers will end non-conference play with wins against Arizona, Louisville and Butler. Purdue's non-conference resume is an impressive one. According to KenPom.com, the Boilermakers' six wins against top 60 teams is the best in the nation.
Tennessee State visits UT Martin on Dec. 28.
Purdue hosts Lipscomb on Dec. 30.