WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Frequently, young 7-footers require time to adjust from the AAU circuit and high school to the Division I level, especially one playing behind fellow 7-footer A.J. Hammons, who likely will be a 2015 NBA Draft pick.
But Purdue freshman Isaac Haas is ahead of the typical big-man learning curve, averaging 11.3 points and five rebounds through Purdue’s first three games.
Haas led a balanced Purdue attack with 17 points to help the Boilermakers beat Grambling State 82-30 on Thursday night.
Rapheal Davis made a 3-pointer on the game’s opening possession, and the Purdue lead expanded to 12-0 before the Tigers scored for the first time after 4:10 of action.
Grambling State (1-2) turned the ball over 15 times during the opening 20 minutes. The Boilermakers converted those 15 turnovers into 21 points.
Purdue also outscored the Tigers 20-4 in points in the paint before halftime, building a 37-15 advantage.
“It really helps when you can get comfortable on the court,” said Haas, who made 6 of 8 field goal attempts and 5 of 7 free throws to go with six rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes. “I always have been told that it takes the big men a while to get into the flow of the game.
“These minutes that have been given to me have helped me get comfortable with the team. I know what is going to happen and can be sure everyone is on the same page. Mostly, this should help me perform better against better teams down the road. Right now, we’re not playing the best teams in the nation, but we will be next week in Maui.”
Purdue will head to Hawaii for a Monday game against Kansas State in the Maui Invitational.
Boilermakers’ coach Matt Painter likes the way Haas is making the most of his early season playing time.
“That is why some of these early games are so important … getting that experience for a very young team,” Painter said. “A player like Isaac has very good physical tools, but it is hard to build that confidence when you don’t play a lot of minutes. He has been able to get a lot of minutes and have some success, which really helps him. Hopefully, he can use this good start as a springboard into the Maui tournament.”
Haas is averaging 18 minutes a game.
At one point in the first half, Grambling State had five points and 10 turnovers. Nine Boilermakers scored during the opening 20 minutes.
Kendall Stephens’ 3-pointer extended the Purdue lead to 44-17 with 16:31 remaining in the game. Dakota Mathias’ 3-pointer with 9:33 to play pushed the Boilermaker advantage to 35 — 58-23. Haas followed with a three-point play with 7:48 to go, and Purdue led 61-23.
The difference stretched to 40 — 63-23 — on two Bryson Scott free throws at the 7:16 mark.
A.J. Hammons had seven rebounds and two blocked shots in the win. Purdue shot 49.2 percent from the field (31 of 63), while Grambling State made only 11 of 41 shots (26.8 percent) and turned the ball over 27 times.
“Tonight gave us a chance to work on our zone defense, which we have done some but not like we want to,” Painter said. “The most important thing right now is trying to figure your team out, getting guys that play well together, but also who play at a high level.”
Purdue: The Boilermakers improved to 33-1 in November home games during coach Matt Painter’s 10 seasons at his alma mater … Starting forward Vince Edwards is the Big Ten Conference freshman of the week after averaging 19.5 points in the season’s first two games … Purdue’s 97 combined points allowed in the first two games are the program’s second fewest allowed since the 1951-52 season… Purdue now is 13-1 all-time against schools based in Louisiana.
Grambling State: This was the Tigers’ first of three consecutive games in Indiana. Grambling State will play Monday at Ball State and then Wednesday at Notre Dame … Starting forwards Richard Freeman and Lonnie McElwain are native Hoosiers, each growing up in Indianapolis, 65 miles south of the Purdue campus … Freeman and Purdue’s Davis were AAU teammates as high school freshmen.
Purdue will play Kansas State on Monday in the Maui Invitational.
Grambling State will play at Ball State on Monday.
Purdue has made 26 of 63 shots from 3-point range (41.3 percent) … All 12 Boilermakers who attempted a shot against Grambling State scored … Through three games, Purdue opponents are averaging only 42.3 points.
Purdue starting center Hammons attempted only five shots and scored six points. Through three games, the 7-footer is averaging only 5.7 points, but the Boilermakers have won by margins of 40, 20 and 52, respectively.