<
>

(17) PURDUE 80, IPFW 69

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.