EVANSTON, Ill. – Purdue freshman center A.J. Hammons didn’t start in Saturday’s 75-60 loss to Northwestern because he was late for the team bus from West Lafayette, according to a team spokesman. Hammons did lead the Boilermakers (11-11, 4-5 Big Ten) with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
On Wednesday, Hammons had 30 points, his highest total of the season, in a loss to No. 3 Indiana.
Travis Carroll started in Hammons’ place, and Hammons entered with 16:44 to play in the first half. The Boilermakers scored their first points with 15:59 left on a Hammons tip-in to cut the lead to 12-2.
He didn’t have anything to do with being down 12-0 because he wasn’t in the game, Purdue coach Matt Painter said. It sure doesn’t help.
You’d like to have that, but putting it on him, we have to get better guard play.
While Hammons sat, Northwestern’s Reggie Hearn, a Snider graduate, got into a rhythm early and erupted for a career-high 26 points.
Jared Swopshire and Dave Sobolewski each added 13 points for the Wildcats (13-10, 4-6), who snapped a four-game losing streak to the Boilermakers. The Wildcats shot 11 of 26 from three-point range and 53 percent from the field.
Someone just mentioned that we had 26 field goals and 24 assists. It makes you feel good as a staff that guys are sharing the ball and doing the right things, Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said.
Tre Demps added 12 points for Northwestern.
D.J. Byrd had 12 points and Anthony Johnson had 11 for Purdue, which shot 33 percent from the field.
Northwestern reached its biggest lead, 21 points, with 12:45 remaining on Demps’ three-pointer. Purdue answered with a 9-0 run before Swopshire made a three-pointer to put Northwestern ahead 59-44 with 10:32 left.
Purdue was unable to cut the lead to single digits in the second half.
The Wildcats snapped a two-game losing streak. Purdue has dropped three of its last four.
The Boilermakers suffered their worst home loss and allowed a season high in points in losing 97-60 to Indiana on Wednesday.
Our guys didn’t respond to it, just the start of the game for us, Painter said. You’d think after getting beat by 37 points on our home court against your rival school you would have more fight to start the game, but it really says a lot to where we are and our immaturity.
Hearn scored 21 of his points in the first half. His previous career high was 23 on Nov. 15 against Mississippi Valley State.
I don’t know if there’s ever been a time (my shot) felt like that for the entire half, Hearn said.
I think I got a couple of the same types of shots in the Nebraska and Michigan games and didn’t necessarily knock them down like I did today. Once I got going, it started feeling better and better. I kind of got into a rhythm.
Hearn scored six on 2-for-11 shooting against Nebraska and seven on 2-for-8 shooting vs. Michigan in his last two games.