JuJuan Johnson scores 29 points to help Purdue outlast Virginia Tech in overtime
BLACKSBURG, Va. -- JaJuan Johnson started fast, and finished even better.
Purdue's big man scored 29 points, including a go-ahead 15-footer with 1:27 left in overtime, and the Boilermakers (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) beat Virginia Tech 58-55 on Wednesday night, clinching the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the Big Ten for the second straight season.
The winning shot was nothing special, except that it went in, he said.
"I just set a screen and popped out to an open spot and one of the guys found me, and it went down," said the 6-foot-10 Johnson, who finished 11 of 24 from the field.
Johnson's basket with 9 seconds left in regulation forced overtime for the Boilermakers (6-1), who were coming off an 11-point loss to Richmond in the Chicago Invitational.
He was just as excited about the job teammates Lewis Jackson and Kelsey Barlow did harassing ACC scoring leader Malcolm Delaney into a 2-for-18 shooting night. In their previous game, the same two were embarrassed, allowing 28 points to Richmond's Kevin Anderson.
"That was huge," Johnson said of their effort Wednesday. "We definitely needed that."
Delaney, who also turned the ball over with 3.3 seconds left in overtime and the Hokies trailing 57-55, said his shot has been feeling good, but the results didn't show it.
"That's probably the most frustrated I've ever been," he said.
The Hokies (4-3), in their first game after a five-game road trip, trailed much of the game, used two short bursts in the second half to build small leads and then lost them.
Coach Seth Greenberg bristled at the notion that Delaney was to blame.
"Good teammates pick each other up," he said. "Our team should take responsibility as a group. ... Our margin of error is small, so it's hard to overcome if anyone had a bad night."
E'Twuan Moore added 14 points for the Boilermakers, 11 after halftime, and provided a perfect foil for Johnson, hitting enough shots to let him find room to work down low.
"Every time I drove, I was seeing a couple of people, so I wasn't trying to force anything," said Moore, who leads the Boilermakers in scoring with a 20.8 average.
"They were playing him one on one, so I just kept feeding him," Moore said.
Jeff Allen led Virginia Tech with 14 points and Victor Davila had 12.
Purdue's win was the sixth in the matchups for the Big Ten, which lost the challenge to the ACC for the first 10 years of the series.
Johnson hit two free throws early in the overtime and put Purdue ahead to stay at 56-55 with his shot from the left corner. The Hokies committed two turnovers thereafter, and Moore added two free throws to give Purdue consecutive victories in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the first time. The Hokies fell to 2-4 in the annual event between the conferences.
Purdue had trailed by as many as five points in the second half and was down 51-49 when it inbounded the ball with 21.9 seconds left in regulation. The Boilermakers worked it to Johnson, whose short hook from the right side of the basket tied it with 9 seconds to play.
Delaney held for the last shot for the Hokies, but his jumper missed.
Allen missed two free throws with 5:18 left, then hit two with 4:40 to go after Purdue had gone ahead 46-45. Allen was fouled again on a putback with 3:33 to play, and made 1 of 2 from the line. After a Purdue miss, Davila's baby hook put the Hokies ahead 50-46.
The Hokies took their first lead of the game at 33-31 on Erick Green's 3-pointer with 14:29 to play, and neither team led by more than two until Allen scored inside, then rebounded a miss by Delaney and slammed it back in, making it 45-40.
The Boilermakers, however, got a turnaround in the lane from Moore, a steal and layin from Kelsey Barlow and a leaner from Moore, a 6-0 run that gave them a 46-45 lead.
Johnson had 14 at halftime, and scored the Boilermakers' first 11 points. He was 4 for 4 from the field by the first TV timeout, giving his team as many field goals as it made in the first half of its 65-54 loss to Richmond on Saturday night. They were 4 for 25 in the half.
- Bryan Kersey
- Mike Eades
- Ray Natili
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