There is not much point in trying to over-analyze today’s game against Iowa. Both teams got off to slow starts (I think the score was something like 20-10 with about 8 minutes to go in the first half) but Iowa was able to blow the game open in the latter part of the first half when foul trouble forced Purdue to go deep into their short bench. It was more of the same for Purdue today as foul trouble (Teague had 2 in the first 3 minutes and Landry had 3 at the half), missed free throws, turnovers and horrible shooting (I think Purdue was 30% from the field in the first half) led to an insurmountable half-time deficit of 18 points (38-20). In the first half, Purdue got absolutely nothing from David Teague, Matt Kiefer, Andrew Ford or Brandon McKnight, and when those 4 guys play that poorly, Purdue has no chance at all to compete with teams like Iowa. Surprisingly enough, Purdue came out in the 2nd half with a starting line-up that had Kiefer and Ford on the bench and Hartley and Davis in their place. They even experimented some with a “big” line-up that included Carroll, Kiefer, Landry, McKnight and Teague and for one of the few times all year, the offense had some success in hitting outside shots. I think Purdue out-scored Iowa in the 2nd half 37-33 and while that is small consolation in a game that Purdue lost by 14 points, any ray of sunshine is welcome. The only other real bright spot for Purdue today was that both Charles Davis and Chris Hartley gave them some production off the bench. Finding guys to help take some of the pressure off the starters has been a real problem for Purdue this year and it was nice to see both Chris and Charles play so well.
Brandon McKnight – As has been the case in most games this year, Brandon struggled to make shots and to complicate things, he got into foul trouble during the first half. He ended up the day with 9 points on 2 of 8 shooting and 3 of 4 from the free throw line and added 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and only 2 turnovers in 38 minutes. I thought he also played pretty solid defense on Jeff Horner for most of the game.
Andrew Ford – It was not a good day for Andrew. He looked tentative most of time, missed his only shot and in general didn’t do much of anything at either end of the floor. With Bryant lost for the season, Andrew is going to have to step up his game.
Carl Landry – For one of the Big 10’s best players, Carl gets surprisingly little respect from the officials. Today, he got plastered twice in the first half going up for shots with no call at all and then got nailed for a couple of ticky-tack fouls at the other end. Even though he was in foul trouble for most of the game, he still managed to play 33 minutes and score 16 points on 6 of 11 from the field, and 4 of 5 from the line. He also had 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 4 turnovers. I think he also had at least one block, but it didn’t show up in the box score. About my only criticism of Carl is that when he does get the ball in the post, sometimes he stands there and holds the ball too long.
Matt Kiefer – Simply stated, Matt was not in the game today. Oh sure, he played, but he wasn’t very effective. Gene finally got so frustrated with him that he started Charles Davis in his place in the 2nd half. For the day, Matt played 25 minutes and scored only 6 points on 2 of 8 shooting from the field and a horrid 2 of 5 from the FT line. He also pulled down only 2 rebounds and added 1 assist and 1 blocked shot along with 4 turnovers. There have been some games this year where Matt has played pretty solidly. Today’s game was not one of them and Purdue cannot win when he plays like he did today.
David Teague – I’m not sure, but I think David was scoreless in the first half for perhaps the first time in his Purdue career. He picked up two early fouls trying to shadow Pierre Pierce and sat out a large portion of the first half. He ended up playing only 23 minutes before fouling out late in the game. He did come back in the 2nd half and scored 11 points on 4 of 10 shooting including 3 of 6 from 3-point land. He added 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 turnover. I’m not sure if David has fouled out in any other games this year, but he’s another guy that just has to be on the floor playing well for Purdue to have any chance.
Gary Ware – Gary played 9 minutes, and as I suspected, didn’t do much at all in those 9 minutes. His only contribution was a single rebound. Gary also has trouble trying to guard anyone outside the paint and his defensive lapses have really hurt Purdue this year.
Charles Davis – All I can say is “Way to go, big guy”. Charles played a career high 22 minutes today and I thought he got a little fatigued in the 2nd half. Still, he pulled down 7 rebounds and scored 6 points on 3 of 4 shooting and added an assist, a steal and 3 turnovers in those 22 minutes. That doesn’t sound super impressive, until you consider that the 3 other big guys that played for Purdue today (not including Landry) COMBINED for 6 points and only 3 rebounds in 38 minutes.
Matt Carroll – Matt got in the game for 4 minutes in the 2nd half and didn’t dent the box score except for a foul. Still, it was good to see Matt out there after having to sit out for the last 3 or 4 weeks.
Chris Hartley – For the 2nd straight game, Chris got to play some extended minutes and surprisingly enough, he was pretty darn productive in those minutes. For the day, Chris scored 9 points on 3 of 6 shooting including 3 of 5 from 3-point territory. He also added 4 assists, 1 rebound and only 2 turnovers in 22 minutes. I don’t think Purdue can be successful if Chris has to play 22 minutes in every game, but if he can produce when he does get a chance, it has to help Purdue. Nice job, Chris.
Xavier Price – Xavier was the first sub off the bench today after playing less than a minute against MSU last Tuesday. He ended up playing only 9 minutes, missed his only shot (a 3-poiner) from the field and had 3 rebounds and 1 turnover in that time. I continue to think Xavier can be a productive player for Purdue in time, it’s just expecting too much from him at this point to expect him to be very effective against the kinds of players he is having to play against. I t would be one thing if he were playing against another freshman most of the time, but he’s not. He has to guard guys like Pierre Pierce, Dee Brown, Bracey Wright, etc. and he’s not ready for that yet. He also has a bad habit of having his turnovers end up in slam-dunks for the opposition.
The really depressing thing about today’s game wasn’t that Purdue lost, it was that they let a chance to give Iowa a game get away with some incredibly bad basketball in the first half. As bad as Purdue played, they were still in the game fairly late in the first half when several consecutive offensive mistakes led to slam-dunk baskets for Iowa at the other end. From there, it was pretty much a case of finishing the game and Purdue never seriously challenged Iowa during the 2nd half. To Purdue’s credit, they continued to play hard and didn’t just “mail it in”, but it’s getting really, really difficult to watch these guys play so hard and get so little out of it. I was encouraged to see Gene try some different line-ups in the 2nd half and even get away from the 3-guard set a couple of times. At this point in the season, I think the only thing he can do is to try and make incremental changes in hopes that something clicks in. The next 5 games are all against teams that I think this year’s Purdue team is capable of beating (Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Michigan, OSU, Penn State and Northwestern) but until Purdue actually WINS a game, I think it’s premature to think Purdue can win ANY of those games. If anyone thinks Wisconsin-Milwaukee is going to be an easy win, you might consider that UWM is currently 14-4 and ranked 48 by Sagarin. They have one blowout loss to Wisconsin, but they played Kansas pretty tough before losing by 11 and they have won their last 8 games. I expect them to be super fired up Wednesday and thinking that they have a good chance to not only beat a Big 10 team but also get some notoriety for their Conference even though Purdue is down this year.