With the road to the Final Four in downtown Indianapolis set to begin in a month, the Purdue Boilermakers basketball team is peaking at the right time. They’ve climbed two spots to No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press poll, and are winners of seven straight games. A key component to the Boilers success has been junior forward/center JaJuan Johnson (Franklin Central High School), and this week the Big Ten recognized his efforts by naming him the conference Player of the Week.
On Tuesday Purdue ventured away from Mackey Arena to take on the conference leading Michigan State Spartans, and thanks to Johnson’s 19 points, 7 rebounds and three blocked shots, Purdue was able to take home a 76-64 victory. The Boilers were back in West Lafayette, Indiana on Saturday to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes and Johnson was once again a major force for Matt Painter. Leading the Boilers with 21 points, he also grabbed 10 rebounds and had two blocked shots, giving him averages of 20.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks for the week to win the honor. He also joined teammates Robbie Hummel (Valparaiso, Indiana) and E’Twaun Moore (East Chicago, Indiana) in Purdue’s 1,000-point club.
Not to be outdone by the high-profile Boilers, Indy‘s Butler University basketball team notched three wins this week, and have run their streak of consecutive victories to a healthy 15 games. They didn’t move up in the polls like Purdue did — holding steady at No. 18 — but one of their top players was recognized as the top performer in his conference this week.
Gordon Hayward (Brownsburg, Indiana) started the week off with an eight point, seven rebound effort in Butler’s victory over Loyola. Hardly the output you’d expect from the Horizon League’s most outstanding player, but Hayward made up for it in the Bulldogs next two games. Against Youngstown State he scored 22 points and hauled in a career-high 17 rebounds, and then posted 19 points and 11 boards as the Butler rolled over Cleveland State. It was the second time this season Hayward has been awarded Player of the Week honors.
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