CLEMSON, S.C. – D.J. Byrd hopes he’s got plenty of performances like this left in him for Purdue this season.
Byrd scored a season-high 22 points, 20 of those coming in the first half, as the Boilermakers built a large lead and held on to defeat Clemson 73-61 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday night. Byrd hit six three-pointers in the first 20 minutes, even banking one in off the glass with the shot clock running down.
The senior guard hadn’t averaged more than nine points a game his first three seasons. He says he’s ready to duplicate his effort against the Tigers (4-2).
That’s the plan, Byrd said with a smile.
The Boilermakers (3-3) won in the conference challenge for a fourth straight year and did on the strength of their early outside shooting. Byrd was 6 of 9 from beyond the arc while Purdue had seven threes overall to lead 42-22 at the break.
Just working on getting open shots and taking good shots, my percentages tend to go up, Byrd said. I was just trying to take advantage of that.
Purdue took advantage of everything in the opening half against Clemson, who played without suspended leading scorer Milton Jennings after his arrest on a drug possession charge earlier Wednesday.
The Boilermakers outrebounded their opponents 22-6 and made 16 of 28 shots (57.1 percent) in the opening period for their big lead.
The Tigers (4-2) cut a 23-point lead to 68-59 on Adonis Filer’s three with 1:31 remaining but got no closer.
Terone Johnson 13 and A.J. Hammons and Ronnie Johnson had 10 points each for Purdue.
Devin Booker had 18 points to lead the Tigers. Bernard Sullivan started in place of the 6-foot-9 Jennings and missed both of his shots.
Jennings was charged with possession of less than an ounce of marijuana or 10 grams or less of hash. Police say they went to Jennings on-campus apartment after a disabled smoke alarm sent authorities a signal.
It was the third time in the past 11 months Jennings has missed time due to suspensions for various violations.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell said he’d evaluate Jennings situation the rest of the week and then decide what I want to do.
Booker quickly got things going with a three-pointer and a jumper for Clemson.
Then Byrd began his outside shooting show. He hit four straight three-pointers during a 21-4 run as Purdue moved in front for good, 23-9. When Clemson scratched back within 25-17, the Boilermakers took off again. Terone Johnson converted a three-point play and Ronnie Johnson a three-pointer. Moments later, Byrd hit his sixth three put Purdue up 36-18.
Byrd took just two shots after the break and finished 2 points shy of his career best.
We stubbed our toes a little bit with the three games we lost, Byrd said. There’s nothing you can do except keep fighting back and try to play better.