No. 24 Purdue hopes to bounce back vs. Robert Morris
WEST LAFAYATTE, Ind. -- Less than a week after suffering its first loss of the season, No. 24 Purdue hosts Robert Morris Friday hoping to avoid back-to-back losses.
The Boilermakers fell 89-83 to No. 16 Virginia Tech Sunday in the championship game of the Charleston Classic after leading by as many as 12 at one point.
The Hokies trailed by eight points at halftime, but capitalized on poor shooting and turnovers by Purdue to outscore the Boilermakers 53-39 in the second half and rally back for the win.
Following Sunday's loss, Purdue coach Matt Painter said the team has utilized a slow week of practice to improve as much as possible heading into Friday's home matchup.
"When you have time like this, you try to use it wisely," Painter said Wednesday. "We practiced yesterday and just tried to shore up some things that we struggled with. You still have to prepare for your next opponent, but like we've talked about, it's still you. You have to improve yourself each day and I think that's what we've got to continue to do is just take these practices and get the most out of them."
Against Virginia Tech, Purdue got 26 points and seven assists from leading scorer Carsen Edwards, but had an uncharacteristic number of turnovers. The Boilermakers committed 13 turnovers, including six from Edwards, who also shot an inefficient 3-for-11 from 3-point range in the loss.
The Boilermakers rank seventh in the country in 3-pointer per game, averaging 12.2 per contest, and have shot the long ball at a high clip even in the loss to the Hokies, when they connected on 42.4 percent of shots from distance as a team.
Though Purdue is not a particularly deep team at this point in the season, Painter discussed the importance of developing the younger players in its nine-man rotation, specifically freshmen Aaron Wheeler and Sasha Stefanovic.
"When you have guys that are playing 10-15 minutes per game, they just have to play to their strengths," Painter said. "Do their job on the defensive end, and then just scrap for rebounds and loose balls and 50/50 balls. I think both of those guys are in the adjustment period of trying to get in some common ground and be guys that can defend, but also impact us offensively with their ability to stretch the defense. For both of those guys, I think that's the best thing they can do for us is not turn the basketball over and knock down 3's."
Stefanovic and Wheeler combined for nine points against Virginia Tech, shooting a combined 3-for-6 from 3-point range without committing a turnover. Purdue's bench outscored the Hokies' 27-5, highlighted by 18 points from junior transfer Evan Boudreaux, who shot 7-for-11 from the field, including 2-for-3 from 3-point range.
The Boilermakers own a 2-0 record against Robert Morris all-time, most recently defeating the Colonials 87-53 at Mackey Arena on Dec. 29, 2001, and are 6-0 all-time against members of the Northeast Conference.
The Colonials have won three straight after back-to-back losses to start the season, defeating Stetson 81-72 behind 18 points from senior guard Josh Williams.
"A lot of contributions from a lot of different guys, and that's how it's going to be for us all year long," said Robert Morris coach Andrew Toole. "Sometimes it's always better to teach after a win and talk to guys about things that we can execute better on both sides of the floor."
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