Having gone to a school that's roughly an hour and ten minutes from either university, it would have been understandable if former North Central Panther Terone Johnson's allegiance could have swung one way or the other. But on Wednesday night at Assembly Hall, Johnson was showing Indiana Hoosier fans both what they are missing out on, and a glimpse into the bright future Purdue Boilermaker fans can expect.
"You know I still get it," said Johnson with a chuckle. "People get mad at me sometimes for choosing Purdue over IU and stuff like that, but I felt like I definitely made the right choice. And it feels great to come in here and get a win."
Johnson, an area basketball product that will be best remembered for leading North Central to a dominant 95-74 victory over Warsaw in the Class 4A Championship in 2010, has averaged 4.7 points per game and 18.6 minutes per game in his debut season. Though the majority of his time maybe spent watching the team as a freshman, you can sense Johnson is taking everything in and learning the game from the upperclassmen in E'Twaun Moore, Lewis Jackson, and Ryne Smith.
But on Wednesday night against rival Indiana University, a game in which he tied his career-high of 26 minutes played, Johnson helped inject his team with the energy early in the game needed to hold off the Hoosiers.
"Terone really got us going," said Head Coach Matt Painter. "Those three threes really got us going in the first half."
Johnson's biggest contributions came in just a one minute and eight second span late in the first half, when he first assisted Ryne Smith for a three pointer with 4:08 on the clock that put Purdue up 31-27. On the following possession Smith returned the favor, stealing the ball and finding Johnson behind the arc to put Purdue up 34-27. And then E'Twaun Moore found Johnson at the three minute mark for the freshman's third three-pointer of the game, finishing him off with nine points on the night.
Between Johnson's short outburst and D.J. Bird's career night on the boards with nine rebounds and eleven points, the Boilermakers showed why they can still win despite the foul trouble from their star center Jajuan Johnson.
"I think once he (Johnson) got into foul trouble, it sent a message that we needed to step our game up," said Johnson, who also had two rebounds. "I felt like everybody did. Kelsey had a couple drives, Lewis got into the paint a lot, and I got a couple shots."
"But It can be any given night. Sometimes it's Lewis, it's me, it's Bade, we have people that come off the bench at any given time and that helps us."
It may not be known each night which Purdue athlete off the bench will raise his game, but one thing maybe for certain for Indiana fans. Terone Johnson is looking forward to more nights like this on their home court.
"Oh yeah, definitely."
Johnson's threes help energize Purdue over Indiana
Many in Central Indiana are used to seeing North Central alum Terone Johnson jump-start an offense in a Panthers jersey, but on Wednesday night, Johnson was an integral part in the Boilermakers 72-61 victory over the Hoosiers.
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