Matt Painter continues to tweak his starting lineup nearly every game since the Boilers' disappointing game against Washington State in Orlando last weekend. Saturday afternoon the Boilers' coach went with four freshmen - Kendall Stephens, Basil Smotherman, Bryson Scott and Jay Simpson - to start against an Eastern Michigan team that embarrassed Purdue last season, along with senior Terone Johnson. This is the first time four freshmen have started for Purdue since Dec. 19, 2007 (the "Baby Boilers").
And for the second game in a row, the lineup tweaks seemed to work out for Purdue as the Boilers came away from the game victors. Bryson Scott scored a team-high 16 points in his first official start for the Boilermakers (he started the first exhibition game of the season) after sophomore Ronnie Johnson was late for the pre-game practice Saturday morning.
The teams played a scoreless first three minutes before Scott got the Boilers going, tying his career-high of three assists on the Boilers first three baskets, which included two beautiful 3s from Stephens. Stephens finished the first half with three 3s and 11 points. He finished with 13 for the game.
Despite facing a 2-3 zone that they struggled mightily against a year ago, Purdue took a 35-29 lead into halftime.
The Boilers pushed that lead to 42-31 early in the second half, using a 7-0 run that saw four different Boilers score. The game was not over, however, and Eastern Michigan pulled within one on three separate occasions late in the second half.
Scott hit 9-of-10 free throws in the final three minutes of the game to seal the victory for the Boilers, who hit just 23 of 38 free-throw attempts on the day. Despite their free throw troubles, Purdue scored its eighth victory of the year more than a month sooner than it did last season (Jan. 13).
All 10 Boilers that saw action scored, with six scoring at least seven points.
Karrington Ward was the spark behind the EMU offense, scoring 25 points including 4-of-8 from long-range.