The Boilers defeated Southern Indiana, 88-59, in an exhibition game in Mackey Arena on Friday night behind 17 points from Aaron Wheeler.
Wheeler scored his points on 6 of 7 from the field – including 4 of 4 from 3-point range – along with 1 for 1 from the line. He also had 4 rebounds in 18 minutes of play.
The Boilers started the game with sophomore guard Eric Hunter Jr. at point and senior guard Jahaad Proctor. Sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic started at the 3 while sophomore forward Wheeler and junior Matt Haarms filled out the front court. Junior point guard Nojel Eastern sat out of tonight's game with a foot injury.
The Boilermakers came out firing and ready, hitting seven of their first eight field goals and knocking down three out four 3s in the process. Their defense was just as good, allowing only 3 points in the first five minutes of play.
Sophomore Trevion Williams and freshman Isaiah Thompson were the first two Boilers off the bench. Williams immediately scored two quick baskets as he just overpowered the Eagles post players. From there on out, the Eagles began doubling Williams in the post after the catch.
Redshirt freshman Emmanuel Dowuona got the first points of his career from the free-throw line late in the half. Proctor also got his first points in a Purdue uniform early in the first half from the 3.
The first true freshman to score was Thompson, who showed off his quickness driving to the lane for a tough finish in traffic late in the first half. Freshman forward Mason Gillis was able to get a basket from the free-throw line during the second half and also made a big impact on the boards. Freshman guard Brandon Newman eventually made his way on the box score with a 3-point shot late in the second half.
The team showed great chemistry, as more than half of their baskets were assisted on. This led to high-percentage shots from the Boilers, who cashed in on nearly all of their looks. Purdue shot a terrific 77% during the first half.
The Boilermakers once again came out on fire to start the second half. Defensively, they maintained the same edge they played with in the first.
Purdue dominated the game from start to finish. Matt Painter inserted fan-favorite senior Tommy Luce —also known as the king of Mackey Arena — with about six minutes left in the second half. At that point the game was all but over.
One of the big questions heading into this game was who would do the bulk of the scoring for this Purdue squad. It was Wheeler who stepped up to the plate.
"Coach Painter always gives me confidence to shoot open shots, so I'm not out there hesitating," Wheeler said after the game. "I just shot the shots that were open.
Wheeler was perfect from the field in the first half and led the team in scoring throughout the contest. He shot 6-of-7 and was 4-for-4 from the 3-point line.
Hunter also did a great job for Purdue running the offense. Painter talked early in the week about wanting Hunter to put his mark on the game and he did just that.
He finished with 9 points, shooting 4-of-7 from the field. He also dished out four assists and hauled in three rebounds.
"It comes with time and experience," he said. "This time last year everything seemed like it was coming so fast. But now the game has slowed down for me."
Proctor showed he fit very well with this year's Boilers, getting all of his points within the flow of the offense. He scored 10 points and had three assists to go along with one board.
Thompson was the most impressive freshman. He ended the game with 8 points, two rebounds and one assist. In addition to his offensive contribution, he played stout defense throughout the night.
Purdue's regular season begins with a matchup against Green Bay at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Mackey Arena.