Sharp-shooting Stephens sparks Purdue

Kendall Stephens ignited Purdue with his steady shooting effort.

WEST LAFAYETTE -- With the sixth man roaring on Wednesday night, Purdue freshman forward Kendall Stephens feasted upon the exciting environment. Stephens was able to score 11 points, most notably sparking the Boilermakers on a 21-3 first-half run.

Purdue fed off the impact of Stephens' threes. A three-point specialist can really make an impact on the way the moral of a team shifts—either positively or negatively. In the rout to another Purdue win, Stephens was able to find his rhythm to ignite Purdue in a number of scoring runs.

Having a weapon like Kendall Stephens has proved up to this point to be a major advantage to Purdue's offense in opportune times. The Boilermakers have been able to put up big numbers in crucial moments of games and will continue to see success in the future.

"He's a weapon, and he definitely helps our point guard with his ability to space the defense to give him more room to drive and to help our big guys once we can get him the ball," Purdue coach Matt Painter said of Stephens, following Wednesday's win.

Stephens' first bucket came with seven minutes remaining in the first half and Purdue tied at 20. He followed it up with another from beyond the arc, then later added a long jumper for two. The Boilermakers found their stride on the 21-3 run and never looked back.

While the stat sheet showed an all-around effort for Purdue, much of the credit goes to Stephens' spark.

"I think our team is really binding as far as chemistry and wanting each other to do well," said Stephens. "When that happens, especially when the crowd is getting into it, that helps our team play together and we are a better team when we are dishing the ball out and looking for others."

Purdue's offense was able to be efficient with steady ball movement, spacing the court and setting up open shots. For much of the season, the Boilermakers have failed to do this.

Everything was working on Wednesday night, and Stephens, the sharp-shooting freshman, took full advantage.

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