E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson lead Purdue past Alabama
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Alabama tried to take JaJuan Johnson out of Purdue's offense. That just gave E'Twaun Moore an opportunity.
He scored 23 points and made 5 of 10 3-pointers to help Purdue (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) beat Alabama 66-47 on Saturday.
Moore showed off his all-around game with nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
"He's complete," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "He's like a silent assassin out there. There's so many things that he does for his team. Some of it is loud, like his 3s were loud, and some of it is just a slow poison."
Johnson, a center, still scored 17 points for the Boilermakers (7-1), but Moore helped provide an element Grant didn't account for. The Boilermakers made 9 of 24 3-pointers, while Alabama missed all nine of its 3-point tries.
"Coming into the game, I didn't feel like the strength of Purdue's team was making threes, and obviously Moore stepped up and he made some big ones," Grant said.
Grant said Johnson and Moore are a dynamic team.
"Those two are, in my opinion, the best, if not one of the best, inside-out combinations in college basketball."
Johnson took only 10 shots while constantly facing double teams, but he made up for it by making 7 of 8 free throws and grabbing seven rebounds. Purdue coach Matt Painter said the Boilermakers still should have done a better job of handling Alabama's plans to limit Johnson's touches.
"There's no doubt that they're trying to take something away," Painter said. "Any time you can make some 3s, I think it's going to loosen some things up for drives and post feeds. When we were more consistent shooting the basketball, it was easier to get it to him. But he still needs to shoot the ball more than 10 times."
Purdue bounced back from its loss to Richmond the previous week with wins against Virginia Tech and Alabama. Purdue held Virginia Tech to 35 percent shooting, then forced Alabama into 18 turnovers.
"I was proud of our guys," Painter said. "I thought we had a focus again, defensively. We've got to create an identity defensively, and the only way to do that is to be consistent. I thought we had a great effort at Virginia Tech, and I thought we had a great defensive effort against Alabama, a very talented team. Hopefully, we can keep building on it."
Grant said Purdue's defense was more important than its outside shooting.
"They're an outstanding defensive team," he said. "We weren't able to handle that pressure today. I thought that was the difference in the game. Their defense really triggers everything that they do."
Purdue forward D.J. Byrd played a limited role after hurting his right shoulder against Virginia Tech. The regular starter had a wrap over the shoulder and played just two minutes as a reserve.
Tony Mitchell had 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals, and Trevor Releford added 12 points for Alabama (4-4). JaMychal Green, the Crimson Tide's No. 2 scorer, served the third game of a suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. They beat Alabama A&M and South Alabama without him.
After Senario Hillman put the Crimson Tide up 16-13 with 8:30 left in the first half, Alabama didn't score for the next seven minutes. Purdue took control with a 17-0 run.
"We definitely did a real good job of defending," Johnson said. "Also, during that stretch, we did a good job of limiting them to just one shot. Any time you do that, it creates a good offense on the other end."
The Boilermakers led 30-20 at halftime, despite shooting 37 percent from the field.
Purdue steadily added to its lead. A 3-pointer by Moore pushed the lead to 45-30 six minutes into the second half. Another 3 by Moore made it 50-34 with 8:29 to play.
As the Boilermakers pushed the lead past 20 points, the student section serenaded the Crimson Tide with chants of "Auburn's better," a reference to Alabama's bitter rival.
The Boilermakers weren't quite ready to say they are meeting their expectations.
"We played an OK game," Moore said. "We have a lot of room for improvement with rebounding and limiting the turnovers. We do that, and we'll be fine."
- Bert Smith
- Anthony Johnson
- Tony Greene
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