January 17, 2016

If Big Ten play has leveled Purdue's season, the effect it's had on Rutgers' second campaign in the conference has been a flatlining.

The 22nd-ranked Boilermakers head to New Jersey on Monday night to begin a span of three of four on the road, but there's been no such thing as home-court advantage with the Scarlet Knights for more than a year in the league.

Purdue (15-3, 3-2) has thus far traded wins and losses in the conference and is 4-3 overall dating to a loss against Butler on Dec. 19. It's coming off Wednesday's 74-57 home win over Penn State behind Vince Edwards' season-high 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

"When the ball goes in it looks better, but he (Edwards) was efficient, a little more aggressive," coach Matt Painter said. "I thought Vince was really good. I thought (reserve center) Isaac (Haas) was really good."

The sophomore had been limited to 7.8 points per game on 34.1 percent shooting over the preceding 3-3 span.

"You've just got to take your shots in rhythm, take them when they're there and just be ready to shoot," Edwards said. "That's what I did."

While much of the offense came from the frontcourt with Edwards being followed by fellow forward Caleb Swanigan's 13, center A.J. Hammons' 13 and Haas' 14, the Boilermakers' outside shooting is showing signs of gradual improvement.

They made 8 of 21 from long range against the Nittany Lions and are at 39.3 percent in the last three games after entering that span with a 27.8 mark over the prior four.

Purdue has won four straight in the series and both meetings last season with Hammons averaging 15.0 points. Those defeats for Rutgers are part of a 0-20 span in the league since a home win over then-No. 4 Wisconsin on Jan. 11, 2015 - a drought that includes eight home losses by an average of 16.8 points.

The losing streak is the longest in Big Ten play since Northwestern dropped 20 straight from Feb. 15, 2007-Feb. 23, 2008. The most recent to go beyond 20 was the Wildcats' 28-game skid from March 5, 1999-Feb. 6, 2001.

This season's league start has come with Rutgers losing by an average of 22.8 points while its opponents have scored 86.0 per game after Wednesday's 94-68 loss at Ohio State. A 55-27 second half followed a two-point halftime lead for the Scarlet Knights.

"We did a great job in the first half. We were fighting," coach Eddie Jordan said. "We showed some physicality. We were organized. Corey (Sanders) had a nice first half for us."

Sanders had a game-high 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting after a three-game span in which the freshman leading scorer had been limited to 9.0 on 25.7 percent.

The Scarlet Knights (6-12, 0-5), however, shot 38.6 percent and have been held to a 37.7 mark overall and 29.9 from 3-point range in the last four. That's made for an average losing margin of 26.8 points with opponents shooting 51.3 percent.

To close the gap, they could use more consistent play from No. 2 scorer Mike Williams. The sophomore had six points and shot 2 of 13 from the field against the Buckeyes after scoring 22 in a loss to Nebraska on Jan. 9.

In conference play, he's alternated single-digit scoring efforts of 30.0 percent or lower with two games of at least 20 points on 58.3 percent.

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