FORT WAYNE – D.J. Byrd got into one of those zones players dream about Wednesday at Clemson.
The Purdue senior guard/forward scored 20 of his 22 points in the first half, including six three-pointers, to lead the Boilermakers to the 73-61 win. Byrd will look to continue the hot shooting against a strong three-point shooting team in Xavier at 2:15 p.m. today at Mackey Arena.
Byrd went a combined 3 for 12 from three-point territory in the Boilermakers’ previous two games against Oregon State and UNC Wilmington. He made 6 of 11 three-pointers against Clemson.
He needs to take as many shots in rhythm for us as possible. When he does that and moves the ball and then he moves offensively, people have to stay with him and it really opens up some space for other people to drive the basketball, Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. I think it’s staying with it and continuing to plug. He got into a rhythm in the first half.
Byrd leads Purdue (3-3) in scoring with a 12.7 average.
He’s always looking, like most shooters are, to get that rhythm three in transition, Painter said. That’s always a good shot when a guy can shoot a high percentage and gets it in rhythm. It gives us a good chance for it to go in and also gives us a good chance to crash the glass because the defense isn’t set.
Purdue faces a Xavier (5-1) team that has plenty of offensive options. The Musketeers have five players averaging double figures, led by Dee Davis at 14.3 points.
Xavier is shooting 41.3 percent from three-point territory. Purdue’s opponents are shooting just 26.7 percent from beyond the three-point line, including Clemson’s 4 for 23 (17.4 percent).
We’ve tried to take some guys out of play when they can shoot threes, Painter said. We really try to make them put the ball on the ground. The problem we have now with Xavier, all three of those guys coming in – (Brad) Redford, Davis and (Justin) Martin – they shoot it so well.
In three-point shooting, Davis is hitting 51.7 percent (15 of 29); Martin is 11 of 22 (50 percent); and Redford is 11 of 25 (44 percent).
It’s tough when you have so many guys out there. We’ve done an all right job in the past, but we haven’t faced a team that can put three guys out there on the court and really spread you out, Painter said. We’ll see. This is probably our toughest challenge when it comes to defending the arc.