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December 16, 2010

Homecoming for freshman

Saturday's Boilermaker BlockBuster matchup with Indiana State might be especially significant for freshman Terone Johnson.

"It's going to be great," he said, "just like I'm playing back home again."

He will be, almost in more ways than one.

Not only will the Indianapolis native be playing his home city for the first time as a college player, but he'll be doing it in an arena he should be pretty comfortable in by now.

Johnson and his North Central High School team won a state championship in Conseco Fieldhouse last year. His freshman year, he was part of the Panther team that lost to E'Twaun Moore and East Chicago Central in the title game in Conseco.

In June, Johnson was a member of the Indiana All-Star team, which defeated Team Kentucky in the Indianapolis half of the annual two-game, home-and-home series.

So the rookie guard's history with Conseco Fieldhouse is a long one.

What better place, then, than Conseco for Johnson to break out of a shooting slump.

All freshmen will go through ups and downs, and at least offensively, Johnson's gone through the latter of late.

After shooting 50 percent in his first three games, Johnson's shot 8-of-41 for 20 percent in the past seven games.

"I had some struggles in high school, but it's different here," Johnson said. "In high school you're definitely going to get more chances to just put the ball up a lot. Here you have to take advantage of the shots you do get and I haven't been making a lot of shots to help my team out."

Against North Florida last weekend, perhaps things showed signs of turning around, as Johnson made a pair of long jumpers, including a three-pointer, against the Ospreys.

"It was important, just getting my jump shot back together," Johnson said of those shots. "I've been coming in and doing a lot of shooting, because my jump shot's been off lately. Getting all those extra shots up will really help me going into this next game.

"I'm definitely going to be confident. Coach says, 'It's just a shooting slump. Keep shooting the ball.' I'm definitely going to do that."

Though his shot's not been falling of late, he's averaging three assists and more than three rebounds per game in his last four outings.

"Coach said he'll never take me out for taking a good shot," Johnson said. "If he does take me out for something it'll be for making mistakes on defense, not rebounding or something like that. I'm just keeping my head in the game."

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