Lions Drop Big Ten Home Opener

In a game where the stars struggle, No. 10 Purdue proves to have the better supporting cast.

Penn State's Talor Battle entered Wednesday's game against No. 10 Purdue at the Jordan Center as the Big Ten's leading scorer. Boilermaker E'Twaun Moore ranked third in the same department.

But the anticipated shootout between the All-Conference guards and 20-points-per-game men never materialized, and that spelled trouble for the Nittany Lions.

Purdue, relying on Moore's supporting cast and a dominating effort on the glass, seized control of the game early in the second half on the way to winning, 83-68. The Boilermakers improved to 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the league.

Penn State, which saw Battle suffer through a 3-of-17 showing from the floor and an 0-of-6 effort from the arc in the game's first 35 minutes, fell to 8-6 and 1-2. Battle finished with 18 points, but eight of them came in the final 4:34.

“He had a tough night tonight,” said senior forward Jeff Brooks, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Lions also got an unexpected boost off the bench from redshirt freshman guard Jermaine Marshall, who had more points in this game (18) than he did in the previous 13 combined (12).

Outside of that, though, Penn State had next to nothing. The other six players who saw action combined for 17 points.

Purdue, meanwhile, got help from one likely candidate (star center JaJuan Johnson had 15 points and 15 rebounds) and a couple of less likely characters.

Forward Ryne Smith, who entered the game averaging 5.7 points, went off for a career 20 and was perfect from the field (5 of 5, all 3-pointers). Diminutive guard Lewis Jackson also set a personal standard with 17 points after entering the game with a 4.7 average.

So it didn't really matter that Moore finished with a season-low four points on 2-of-10 shooting.

“Guys stepped up tonight and that's what good teams are supposed to do,” Brooks said when asked about Purdue's performance. “We did a good job on Moore and a great job containing Johnson, and other guys stepped up.”

Penn State coach Ed DeChellis was less concerned about the lack of balanced scoring than he was with poor defense (the Boilermakers shot 47.3 percent from the floor) and atrocious rebounding (Purdue held a 46-31 edge there).

“I didn't think we guarded very well -- you can't let them shoot 47 percent and get 83 points,” DeChellis said. “…And the game was won on the glass. They outrebounded us in the second half.”

And then some. Despite not playing particularly well offensively, Penn State managed to stay within four at the break (31-27) by limiting the Boilermakers to four second-chance points. The Nittany Lions actually were leading the rebounding battle at the time, 19-18.

But Purdue opened the second half with a flourish, using an 11-4 run to boost the lead into double digits (42-31). There was one possession in the stretch where the Boilermakers had three offensive rebounds.

Penn State managed to scrap back within seven on two different occasions but the Boilermakers had an answer each time. The lead was 50-42 following two Battle free throws with 10:59 showing before Smith countered with back-to-back triples to blow it open for good.

“We talked for two days that we have to push out on [him],” DeChellis said. “He's done a nice job shooting the ball.”

The lead grew as large as 17 points and, with Purdue taking care of business at the free-throw line, fans began filing for the exits.

The bad news for Penn State is that this was the first of five straight games against ranked opponents. And the Nittany Lions caught the Boilermakers on a night when their best player was off, and still were run out of the gym.

“We're going to have to put our hard hats on and get to work,” Brooks said. “We're going to have to forget about this one.”


• There were five NBA scouts in attendance at the game.

• Battle turned an ankle late in the first half but had it re-taped during the break and played the entire second half.

• Penn State next plays host to No. 20 Michigan State Saturday. The game tips at 1 p.m.

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