INDIANAPOLIS — Purdue coach Matt Painter couldn't find a bad thing to say about Rapheal Davis' performance Saturday.
Davis exploded for 21 points in the second half against No. 22 Notre Dame after a scoreless first half, leaving a coach who is notoriously tough on freshmen with nothing but praise.
But it wasn't enough.
Jack Cooley had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Fighting Irish to their seventh straight victory, 81-68 over the Boilermakers in the Crossroads Classic.
Still, Davis' effort offered the Boilermakers something to build on. He made 8 of 9 shots in just 18 minutes.
"He had a great game," Painter said. "He's a good scorer and he definitely gave us a lift there offensively in the second half. He's always been known as a scorer. He's improving in other areas. That definitely was a pleasant surprise for us."
Davis has only played double-digit minutes in five games this season, but that appears destined to change.
"He just needs time," Painter said. "He needs minutes. It's hard with our makeup of our team for that to happen, but if you play that well consistently, you're going to put yourself in a position that you're going to be out there a lot."
Eric Atkins had 17 points and seven assists, Pat Connaughton scored 16 and Garrick Sherman 11 for the Irish (9-1), who have won every game during their win streak by double digits. Former Purdue player Scott Martin chipped in with five points on 2-for-8 shooting.
Davis helped the Boilermakers trim a 23-point second-half deficit to single digits at one point. Ronnie Johnson scored 15 points and D.J. Byrd added 13 for Purdue (4-6).
Notre Dame outrebounded Purdue 38-33 and outscored the Boilermakers 24-14 from the free throw line.
The schools had not played each other in basketball since 2004, but Bankers Life Fieldhouse couldn't duplicate the energy from the early game – Butler's 88-86 upset win over No. 1 Indiana in overtime.
Cooley scored 11 points in the first half to help Notre Dame take a 39-31 lead at the break. The Fighting Irish shot 57 percent from the field before the break and held the Boilermakers to 11-for-27 shooting.
Purdue showed renewed energy in the second half, but a bad sequence shifted the momentum in Notre Dame's favor. A.J. Hammons missed a dunk for Purdue, then Notre Dame hustled downcourt and Connaughton hit a 3-pointer to give the Fighting Irish a 44-31 lead. Then a bucket in close by Atkins made it a 15-point game.
Notre Dame extended it to 57-35 before Purdue went on a run. Byrd and Davis each hit a 3-pointer to cut Notre Dame's lead to 57-43. Davis made a spin move to score in the lane then hit a driving layup to cut Notre Dame's lead to 10. Davis then made a jumper to trim the deficit to single digits.
Notre Dame eventually settled down. A 3-point play by Atkins pushed Notre Dame's lead back to 66-53, and a three-point play by Cooley bumped the lead to 14 with just under three minutes to play.
Purdue shot just 41 percent from the field and made only 5 of 15 3-point attempts. The Boilermakers hadn't allowed more than 70 points in a game this season and had held their previous two opponents under 50.