3:30 PM ET, December 20, 2003
Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- With finals over, all Matt Kiefer had to worry about was basketball, and it showed.Kiefer scored a career-high 23 points to lead No. 17 Purdue to a 80-69 win over Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne in the first round of the Boilermaker Invitational on Saturday. "I felt like a burden was off," Kiefer said. Kiefer said he has struggled at times to balance his demanding class load -- he's a chemical engineering major -- with the basketball schedule. He finished finals for the semester earlier this week, and blew off some pent up steam against the Mastodons. Chris Booker added 18 points for Purdue (8-1), which advanced to play SMU, a 66-55 first-round winner over Miami of Ohio, in the tournament championship on Sunday. Kiefer shot 9-for-10 from the floor and 5-for-8 from the line, and Purdue used a 15-0 run midway through the second half to put the game away. "Scoring in the paint is something we've tried to get accomplished and it paid off for us today," said Booker, who missed a few practices this week while he finished his school work for the semester. "We were clicking." David Simon led IPFW (2-7) with 19 points, but the Mastodons didn't have enough height down low to compete with the bigger, quicker Boilermakers. "It's hard enough to match up with them," Mastodons coach Doug Noll said of Kiefer and Booker. "We just don't have enough to combat them." The Mastodons, who are playing just their second full season in Division I, made a game of it early, shooting 50 percent in the first half, including 4-for-7 from 3-point range, to stay close. "The mountain's pretty big for us, but we're climbing it," Noll said. "I think we have a pretty good basketball team." While the rest of the Boilermakers struggled from the field, Kiefer was solid. He scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, while his teammates went 9-for-27, to help the Boilermakers take a 35-34 lead. "We knew he had the hot hand and we just want to ride those players in that situation," Booker said. "We did just that." It was more of the same in the second half, with Kiefer becoming the aggressor on the offensive end, going right at the IPFW front line, either converting layups or getting to the free-throw line. "Something I haven't been doing very well is finishing, and I did that today," Kiefer said. He got some help in the second half from Booker. The two combined for 13 points during a five-minute span and used their superior size to dominate the offensive glass, creating second chances for their teammates. The Mastodons countered with Simon, who almost single-handedly kept them in the game with strong play inside. IPFW's chances took a serious hit when Simon picked up his fourth foul with 10 minutes to play. Booker and Kiefer went right at him, forcing the cautious Simon to let them pass for easy layups instead of fouling out. "We came out with our heads screwed on right," Purdue coach Gene Keady said of the second half surge. The Mastodons shot 56 percent from the field, but couldn't find an answer for Kiefer, whose beautiful feed to Booker for a layup gave Purdue a 64-52 lead with 8:35 to play. "We worked really well together," Kiefer said. "We've been doing it in practice and it just carried over to the game." Purdue was equally impressive on the defensive end. The Boilermakers' full-court pressure and physical man-to-man style flustered the Mastodons, who went over six minutes without a field goal during Purdue's big run, which culminated in a dunk by Booker for a 74-53 lead with 5:51 to play. The Boilermakers scored 30 points off 18 turnovers by overmatched IPFW. "They dialed it up, there's no doubt about that," Noll said. "It's dang tough. They just chest-to-chest you all the time." Kenny Lowe scored four points for Purdue while playing on an injured right leg. Lowe left the game with 1:30 to go in the first half after landing awkwardly on his right foot and being kicked in the shin. Last year's defensive player of the year in the Big Ten sat on the bench, writhing in pain, for the rest of the period, but returned at the start of the second with a noticeable limp. He said after the game he doesn't expect to miss any time. Terry Collins added 12 points for IPFW, which will face Miami of Ohio in the consolation game Sunday.