Purdue sophomore forward Jacob Lawson has provided energy. Freshman center A.J. Hammons has given the team another scoring option.
Both will be tested today when the Boilermakers travel to Clemson as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
The Boilermakers (2-3) will go against Clemson’s (4-1) veteran frontcourt of Milton Jennings and Devin Booker.
They have an experienced front line, Purdue coach Matt Painter said during a teleconference Monday. Jennings and Booker have played a lot of college basketball games.
Jennings, a 6-foot-9 senior forward, is averaging a team-high 10.8 points and 5.6 rebounds. Booker, a 6-8 senior center/forward, is averaging 10.4 points and a team-leading 7.4 rebounds.
Lawson, who is 6-8, will be matched up at times with Jennings. Booker and Hammons, who is 7-foot, could be another interesting matchup.
Lawson is averaging 3.6 points and 3 rebounds. He’s shooting 64.3 percent from the floor (9 of 14).
He’s in better shape, Painter said. Last year, he was just staring at the clock trying to get through a practice. Now he’s getting better at practice because he’s in good shape and he’s playing hard. He’s bringing his energy.
He worked very hard at trying to pick up things, especially on the defensive end. He’s done some good things for us defensively, even though he had some breakdowns in the Oregon State game. Hopefully we can get those things fixed and he can do a good job defending those guys.
Hammons is averaging 8.8 points and a team-high 5.4 rebounds.
A.J. is kind of like JaJuan Johnson was once he started to make some strides. Obviously JaJuan didn’t have quite the opportunity he had, even though JaJuan started some as a freshman, in terms of us needing someone to score, Painter said. A.J. really hasn’t been a big-time scorer before, but he’s had a game (Nov. 16 against Oregon State) where he had 20 (points) and 8 (rebounds). Late in the (UNC Wilmington) game, even though the game was probably out of reach, we still went to him a handful of possessions in a row.
Hammons had nine points and five rebounds in his first start last Wednesday against UNC Wilmington.
He needs to embrace the fact that we need to get the ball inside, and he needs to make a good decision, and he needs to work for position because he can be a really good player, Painter said.
I mentioned JaJuan because he would get 22 and 14 and you’d want more from him and that’s what you want from talent. Talent always has more to give and you always push talent. He’s a talented guy, he just has to start to get that mental approach about being ready to play every day and being accountable on the court doing what he’s supposed to do. He’s had some success and it’s good to see.