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Purdue University

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Wrapup: Purdue

Coach: Matt Painter

Record: 16-18 (8-10 Big Ten, tied seventh place)

Postseason: College Basketball Invitational (defeated Western Illinois 81-67, lost to Santa Clara 86-83)

What went right: Purdue created momentum at the end of the regular season by winning three of its last five games, including a 69-56 road upset of then-No. 17 Wisconsin on March 3. Junior Sandi Marcius and freshman Rapheal Davis, a Fort Wayne native, also took big strides through the season and could help the Boilermakers even more next season. Marcius, a 6-foot-9 forward, made five starts in the 27 games he played this season, and while he only averaged 2.9 points and 2.5 rebounds, he played with the energy and intensity Painter was looking for in the season’s closing weeks. Davis, a 6-5 guard, made one start, averaged 12.3 minutes and 4.7 points in the first 15 games, but after entering the starting lineup in a 60-42 win over Penn State on Jan. 13, he started 13 of the final 16 regular-season games and averaged 24 minutes and 6.7 points. Purdue got the extra practice and playing time it wanted by accepting a bid to the College Basketball Invitational. The Boilermakers went 1-1 in the CBI, defeating Western Illinois 81-67 on March 20 before falling to Santa Clara 86-83 on Monday.

What went wrong: Purdue reverted to form in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament when it lost 57-55 to Nebraska. The Boilermakers didn’t play with the intensity they needed, struggled to handle falling behind, missed free throws (7 for 14) and couldn’t corral a missed foul shot with 33 seconds left as the ball fell between at least three Boilermakers only to be grabbed by a Cornhusker. The Boilermakers also couldn’t get a consistent effort out of 7-foot center A.J. Hammons, who was named the Big Ten freshman of the week Feb. 7 after averaging 24.5 points, nine rebounds and three blocks in losses to Indiana and Northwestern. Hammons was the Boilers’ second-leading scorer, averaging 10.7 points, and led the team in rebounding, 6.1 per game, but he didn’t always play with the focus Painter wanted from the player who finished tied for first in the Big Ten in blocked shots with 2 per game.

Outlook: The Boilermakers bring in a freshman class that is ranked No. 23 by and with Northrop standout Bryson Scott, Basil Smotherman and Kendall Stephens joining the fold.

– Tony Krausz, The Journal Gazette