West Lafayette, IN—November 14—E'Twaun Moore scored a game-high 16 points and JaJuan Johnson recorded a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds but it was the bench production that did most of the damage as 14th ranked Purdue (1-0) defeated Howard University, 76-40 in a non-conference men's basketball game at Mackey Arena before 14,123.
The Bison hung tough with the Boilermakers in the early going, but in the end, it was the Purdue reserves who wore the out-manned visitors down, out-scoring their counterparts, 41-7. D.J. Byrd and John Hart came off the bench to combine for 24 of the points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field.
"I was proud of the team the way we battled in the first 10 minutes," said Howard first year head coach Kevin Nickelberry. "To play against a great team like Purdue in that environment was encouraging. But ultimately, their depth and our fatigue was too much to overcome."
If depth was a concern of Nickelberry before the game, it is even more paramount now. Junior guard Calvin Thompson, the team leader and pre-season all-conference selection, went down with an injury to his knee in the game that was diagnosed by the Purdue medical staff as a possible torn ACL.
"You just don't replace a Calvin Thompson," proclaimed Nickelberry, who saw his top recruit, 6-9 freshman center Theodore Boyomo go down with a torn ACL two weeks ago. "To have him go down like this…..We will know for certain the prognosis when our team physician, Dr. Terry Thompson, takes a look at it when we get back."
Despite the bad news, Nickelberry says he was encouraged by the team's overall hustle and never-say-die attitude. He singled out the play of freshman center Alphonso Leary, who just missed a double-double with 10 points ands 9 rebounds.
"That is why we recruited him; we knew that he is tough," said Nickelberry. "He played against one of the top post players in the country and held his own. I told him that if he builds on that, he will be fine."
Sophomore forward Mike Phillips had another solid outing for the Bison with 8 points and 6 rebounds while Thompson scored 9 points and dealt out three assists in 19 minutes before suffering the injury.
The Bison will try to re-group for the next game at the Blue Hens of Delaware on Friday at 7 pm.
"We are now down to seven scholarship players and we are playing with two walk-ons," explained Nickelberry. "We are going to have to continue to play tough defense and scrap. And now is the time for the players to all step up."