The magic number for Purdue was 16.
That's how many points JaJuan Johnson scored. And how many rebounds he grabbed. And after Purdue thrashed St. Peter's 65-43 at the United Center, the Boilermakers are one victory from reaching their third consecutive Sweet 16.
"This was maybe our best rebounding effort of the year," coach Matt Painter said.
In more ways than one.
Purdue entered Friday on a two-game losing streak after falling to Iowa to close out the regular season and then Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament. The Boilermakers also said goodbye to Kelsey Barlow, who was suspended for the remainder of the season for "conduct detrimental to the team."
"Sometimes a little adversity can bring you closer together," Painter said. "We didn't want to lose to West Virginia and Minnesota back-to-back (in January), but those losses can showcase your weaknesses and get you play to your strengths."
Purdue's strength was clear Friday. The third-seeded Boilermakers made life miserable for their overmatched opponents from New Jersey, limiting the Peacocks to 17-for-58 (29.3 percent) from the field.
Johnson snatched 16 of those misses, one off his career high.
"That's a huge accomplishment, especially in this kind of setting," the Big Ten Player of the Year said. "I need to continue to do that. I don't want it to be where I have 16 one game and then five the next."
E'Twaun Moore also posted some big numbers, scoring 19 points on 7-for-15 shooting. At one point, after he drove to the hole to earn two free throws, St. Peter's coach John Dunne yelled to his players: "Stop the ball."
The Peacocks did contain Moore in one regard; the senior from East Chicago, Ind., committed a game-high seven turnovers.
"Scorers get a little more rope from their coach, and rightfully so," Painter said, "You want them to have that freedom to be able to make plays."
Minus Barlow and backup guard John Hart, who missed the game with a foot injury, Purdue went with a tight, seven-man rotation. Terone Johnson and D.J. Byrd saw small increases in their workload, and the two combined to go 4-for-7 from 3-point land.
Long-range specialist Ryne Smith went 0-for-4 from deep but insisted he has recovered from the concussion that forced him to miss two practices leading to Friday's game.
"It's great to get off the schneid," Smith said. "It was a long time since we'd won a game."
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