FORT WAYNE – Purdue coach Matt Painter isn’t ready to say everything is back on track after his team ended a four-game losing streak.
The Boilermakers (14-9, 4-6 Big Ten) defeated Minnesota 77-74 in triple overtime Wednesday for their first win since a 65-64 victory over Penn State on Jan. 18.
Purdue travels to play Ohio State (18-5, 5-5) today.
We’ll see (today), you got to be able to put some wins together to really get going, Painter said Friday.
Purdue faces an Ohio State team that appears to be going in the right direction after a recent swoon.
The Buckeyes picked up road wins over Wisconsin, 59-58, on Feb. 1, and No. 17 Iowa, 76-69, on Tuesday, after going 1-5 in the six games before those victories.
To get those two road wins at Iowa and Wisconsin says a lot about their team, said Painter, who team lost to Ohio State 78-69 on New Year’s Eve when the Buckeyes were ranked No. 3 in The Associated Press Top 25.
As the Boilermakers got ready for today’s rematch, Painter said he stressed to the team to always be aware of where guard Aaron Craft is on the court.
The Buckeyes senior had seven points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and four steals in the win over the Boilermakers. Craft is third in the Big Ten in assists with 4.9 per game and leads the conference in steals with 2.6 per game.
As a big guy, you can’t drop the basketball, you got to secure it, Painter said of facing Craft. As a guard, you always have to be aware of where he is playing the passing lanes, and if he is guarding you on the ball, obviously, he can disrupt you. You have to be able to change speeds, change directions, not let him get a pulse or a beat on how you are handling the basketball, or he will take it from you.
Being aware of him at all times is a must. If you’re not, then he’s going to get four or five steals.
While Purdue has struggled at the free throw line, Painter said he isn’t aware of teams playing the Boilermakers differently throughout the majority of games.
Purdue is the worst free throw shooting team in the Big Ten, making 65.4 percent of its chances. The Boilermakers went 9 for 23 on free throws Wednesday against the Gophers.
The last thing you want to do is take one element of the game and then it backfires on you and you’ve got some of your better players sitting on the bench, Painter said of teams being able to play tighter defensively against Purdue because of the free throw struggles.
It comes into play for the opponent at the end of the game, in a tight game or if they’re down. It comes into play for the psyche of the people missing shots. The same way you can be confident and want the basketball, it can also go in the other direction where you don’t want the basketball and get very frustrated. It can be demoralizing and I could see it on people’s faces because you’re doing something positive and not being rewarded.
Note: The Big Ten announced that ESPN will televise Purdue’s home game against Indiana at 4 p.m. Feb. 15. It’s the only regular-season meeting between the in-state rivals this year.