- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2008

During the Big Ten season, Purdue showed it could win the tractor pull, winning 15 of 18 games, limiting teams to 61.2 points and committing 155 fewer turnovers than opponents.

In yesterday’s NCAA tournament first-round game at Verizon Center, the Boilermakers showed they also could win a track meet.

Baylor wanted to run and shoot 3-pointers. Purdue obliged by running and hitting 3-pointers. Five Boilermakers reached double figures as Purdue won its 10th consecutive NCAA tournament first-round game 90-79.

“It says our team is very versatile, and we can play a variety of styles,” guard Chris Kramer said. “We’ll play whatever pace you want. We just have to pick our spots. There are times to slow it down and get a good possession and value the basketball, and there are times to run.”

The offensive output was a season high for Purdue, which entered the tournament averaging 68.7 points. It was only the fourth time in 33 games it reached 80 points.

Purdue (25-8), the sixth seed in the West Region, faces No. 3 Xavier in tomorrow’s second round. Both exited in last year’s second round, and the Boilermakers haven’t reached the tournament’s second weekend since 2000.

Although Baylor averaged more than 80 points in the fast-paced Big 12, Purdue coach Matt Painter said his team adapted to the tempo.

“The style of play wasn’t a big issue, and we don’t worry about it, and we don’t talk about it,” he said. “If somebody wants to run up and down the court, we’ll run up and down the court. If somebody wants to play in the halfcourt, we’ll play in the halfcourt. Tonight was fast-paced, and our guys did a good job of knowing when to go and when not to go.”

Purdue won the game in the first half, shooting 50 percent from the field and posting runs of 9-2, 10-2 and 10-2. The Boilermakers stretched their 19-point halftime lead to 25 points early in the second half. Baylor (21-11), playing in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years, never could get the deficit into single digits.

Freshmen and sophomores accounted for all but 19 of Purdue’s points. Reserves contributed 31 points and 16 rebounds. Keaton Grant scored 17 points and E’Twaun Moore 16. Grant was effective early in the game penetrating through the lane.

“We knew they were very poor [defensively] in transition, and the first two to three minutes I came down and nobody was guarding me for about 10 seconds,” Grant said.

Reserves Tarrance Crump and JaJuan Johnson came off the bench to score 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Against Xavier, Purdue half expects a return to its roots. The Musketeers often worked the shot clock during their win against Georgia.

“If they’re a good defense team, that’s good for us because we are, too,” Grant said. “It’s going to be grind-it-out, Big Ten basketball.”

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