MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Terone Johnson scored 20 points and made a couple of key free throws late to lead Purdue to a key nonconference victory over West Virginia, 73-70, Saturday.
Johnson connected on 5 of 16 field goals and 8-of-12 free throws, none of the latter more important than late in the game.
He got support from Ronnie Johnson, who chipped in 14 points, and Basil Smotherman came through with 11 points for Purdue (10-3). This was Purdue’s first true road game of the season.
West Virginia (7-5) saw freshman center Devin Williams connect for a career-high 20 points and recorded his fourth double-double. He brought down 12 rebounds.
Williams received support from teammates Eron Harris (24) and Juwan Staten (14).
Purdue led by as many as eight, 52-44, with 10:36 remaining in the game; however, West Virginia outscored the Boilermakers12-6 to make it 58-56 with 6:26 to go.
The Mountaineers cut it to a bucket difference, 60-58, with 5:05 showing, but the resilient Boilermakers, playing in what coach Matt Painter had termed a huge game for us pushed ahead 69-61 with 1:25 showing.
Terone Johnson split a pair of free throws to make the score 71-65 with 21 seconds to go and West Virginia, fouling to get the ball back, sent the 57 percent free-throw shooter to the line again with 4.3 to go. He again made and missed a shot for the 73-70 lead.
It just seemed like everybody had an even keel down the stretch, Terone Johnson said. When they made a run or it got loud in there, Coach just told us to move the ball and I thought we did that really well. We made some shots down the stretch that really helped us stay in the game and keep the lead.
WVU’s Harris tried to get a shot off near the buzzer, but Johnson blocked it.
It just boosted up our confidence a lot. We’ve got Ohio State (Dec. 31) and going into that game knowing that we just played a tough away game, we should go in there with pride and be able to take them down, Ronnie Johnson said.
There were 11 lead changes and seven ties in the first 20 minutes.
This was an important game for both teams in terms of what it might mean for their respective post-seasons.
West Virginia has lost to Virginia Tech, nationally ranked Wisconsin, Missouri and Gonzaga and now Purdue by a total of 28 points.
The Mountaineers have yet to secure what might be an important victory in terms of RPI points.
Likewise, Purdue owned a home victory over Boston College, but otherwise had no signature victories during its season.
Both teams have been inconsistent thus far.
Terone Johnson helped change that situation, along with Ronnie, who handed out four assists, and A.J. Hammons, who had 12 rebounds.
Purdue held a 45-38 advantage on the backboards and Painter’s bench outscored Bob Huggins’ 25-4.