Purdue's ACC/Big Ten Challenge contest with Boston College was anything but challenging. The Boilermakers put together their best effort yet, flying past the Eagles, 88-67.
"You could see it tonight, everybody talking, doing what we do, just having fun," said freshman forward Basil Smotherman. "We came here to play basketball. That's what we did tonight, we played basketball."
Mackey Arena was buzzing for the Boilermakers' first home test, and the team responded. Purdue matched the energy on the court.
Pardon the cliché of "wanting it more," because it usually doesn't mean much. But for a Purdue team that has lacked an overall effort through many part of the season, it applies. Everything was clicking for the Boilermakers.
"We had good balance tonight," head coach Matt Painter said. We had a lot of guys contribute. … "If we do what we're supposed to do, our percentages go way up."
The numbers back the Boilermakers' effort. They shot 52.2 percent from the field and silenced Boston College to the tune of a 22-of-58 thud. Purdue was sound on offense and disciplined on defense. After having three games in Orlando with one good half and one bad half, Purdue finally played one strong game.
"I think we put it all together, and it showed today," freshman guard Kendall Stephens said.
It was Stephens' sharp shooting which sprung Purdue on a 21-3 first-half run, turning a two-point Boston College lead into a Boilermaker beatdown. Stephens posted eight points in just over two minutes. One minute later came fellow freshman Basil Smotherman's latest posterization of an opponent. The Eagles didn't have a chance after this run.
Purdue had its offense flowing smoothly, with pristine passes and open opportunities. This was the greatest difference in the Boilermakers' game.
"We're a different team when we're dishing it," Stephens later added.
Once again, Terone (18 points) and Ronnie Johnson (15 points) led the way on the stat sheet. Stephens, A.J. Hammons, Jay Simpson and Basil Smotherman each chipped in, too. It was a solid all-around showing.
"They've been really trying to find themselves the last couple of weeks, and Matt [Painter] had them ready to go right from the tip," Boston College coach Steve Donahue said. "I thought they really took it to us."
The victory marks Purdue's fifth straight in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the longest such streak in the event. Perhaps this mark is no coincidence.
Painter admitted to playing up the conference "pride" factor as motivation to his team. It represented the Big Ten well.
"I think our guys took that to heart and realized, obviously, we needed a win and to play well for 40 minutes, but also that we had to represent our league," Painter said.
In the process, these Boilermakers represented Purdue well, too. This is the showing fans demand from the program. This is how it's supposed to look.