WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue took advantage of a much-needed offensive explosion to blow out Central Michigan 97-62 on Saturday at Mackey Arena to close out the nonconference portion of its regular season.
Sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic had a huge night, scoring a career-high 23 points. He was 7-for-10 shooting from 3-point range, breaking out of a mini shooting slump.
"I tried to come out aggressive and be really confident in my shot," said Stefanovic, who was a combined 3 of 14 on 3-pointers in the previous three games. "A lot like the last couple of times where I got off to a good start, I just wanted to come out aggressive, and I felt like I did that.''
Purdue scored 51 points in the first half and led by 30 at the break. They got hot late in the first half to blow the game open.
"Coach (Matt) Painter always says it's a game of runs, so you need to get good shots and execute offensively, and we did that at the end of the first half,'' Stefanovic said. "Trevion (Williams) was making a lot of good passes and he draws so much attention, it made it a lot easier," he said.
Williams scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Boilermakers (8-5). Eric Hunter Jr. had 16 points and six assists.
Center Matt Haarms returned after missing two games with a concussion. He played 11 minutes off the bench, scoring 11 points on 5 of 7 shooting.
The Boilermakers shot 53 percent in the first half and made 10 3-pointers in the opening half. They were 14 of 32 for the game and did a great job of harassing Central Michigan from deep. The Chippewas were just 3-for-22 from deep.
It was good to have Haarms back. He hit the floor hard late in the loss to Nebraska two weeks ago. Haarms didn't start but came in with 16:40 left in the opening half. Haarms had an immediate impact, scoring seven points in the next four minutes, delighting the crowd.
"I wouldn't say I played awesome, there's a lot of stuff I could do better at," Haarms said. "I feels good to be back. I was tired after a minute of running, but I got to run myself back into shape."
Painter said Haarms' return went smooth.
"It was a perfect game for Haarms to come back, play 11 minutes and get some confidence and hopefully he's ready to go (against Minnesota on Thursday)," Painter said.
This was the first home game in 20 days for the the Boilermakers, the longest stint in Painter's 15 seasons. With a season high in points, Purdue topped its previous high of 93. "We have to be able to string together consistent play for a two to three week period," Painter said. "We have to get more consistent shooting from our guards."
Purdue freshman Isaiah Thompson scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed three steals in 24-plus minutes.
"I like Thompson's effort," Painter said. "He came up and guarded the basketball and gave us 100 percent each time. He wasn't casual. It's hard for those young guys when they first start to know how hard they need to play. I thought he played a good all-around game."