Watching tonightís game was a painful experience. I didnít really expect a Purdue win tonight, but I thought Purdue would at least go in and play a decent game, particularly after they played so well against Michigan. Little did I know that the Purdue players would revert to treating the basketball like a hot potato and fail to convert easy shots on possession after possession. A quick look at the statistics tells the dreadful tale. Purdue turned the ball over 20 times against only seven for OSU. Thatís 13 extra possessions for the home team and very few teams can overcome that kind of discrepancy unless they shoot the basketball with a much higher degree of efficiency than their opponent. Unfortunately for Purdue, they were not up to that particular task despite numerous easy opportunities, so they lost a game where they out-rebounded their opponent 43-28, shot a respectable 46.8% from the floor and held the opponent to 41.5% shooting. Oh, and OSU had 6 different players make three-pointers, continuing a season long trend where the Purdue opponent has multiple players make three-pointers.
The game started off well enough and Purdue led 14-10 after about 8 1/2 minutes. Then Matt Kiefer picked up two extremely silly fouls in 24 seconds and Purdue proceeded to miss five lay-ups (two by Landry, two by Ware and one by McKnight) plus a miss from about four feet by Landry in the next six minutes. Despite all the misses from point blank range, when Landry finally scored on a lay-up at about the five-minute mark, Purdue trailed by only one point at 19-18. For the next couple of minutes, both teams got hot from the field and Purdue trailed 29-28 at the 2 1/2-minute mark after a three-pointer from Teague. Over the next seven minutes (including the halftime intermission), Purdue scored just two field goals before Landry scored in the lane to make it 44-34. From then on, it was pretty much Carl Landry against the whole OSU team as he was the only Purdue player to score for the next eight minutes. Brandon McKnight finally ended the drought with a jumper, but Purdue trailed 56-41 at this point with only seven minutes to go and the remainder of the game was essentially a parade to the free throw line for OSU as Purdue had no choice but to foul.
Brandon McKnight Ė This is one of those games where you look at the stat sheet and think to yourself, Brandon had a pretty good game. He was 6-for-9 from the field for 12 points along with seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and three turnovers in 39 minutes. The problem with those stats is that almost all of Brandonís points came after the outcome was basically decided. He didnít score in the first half and I think 10 of his 12 points came in the last five minutes when OSU basically conceded the drive. Itís hard to take issue with a guy who works as hard as Brandon does, but heís just got to find ways to score when Purdue is struggling offensively and tonight he just couldnít do it.
Andrew Ford Ė Andrew barely played tonight and had one turnover when he did get in the game. He was wearing kneepads on both knees and I wondered if the reason he didnít play more was because perhaps his knees were bothering him.
Carl Landry Ė Once again, if you look at the statistics you'll see that Carl had 23 points and 10 rebounds along with an assist, a steal and two turnovers in 38 minutes and conclude that he had a pretty good game. The problem is, Carl took 20 shots to get those points (he missed 11) and except for a couple of three-pointers, none of them were from more than three feet from the basket. That means he missed at least a half-dozen lay-ups or short jumpers and it was not one of his better shooting nights. He quite easily could have had 35 points tonight had he been shooting the ball like he normally does. I like the fact that Carl is getting more touches and more shots; I just didnít like all the misses.
David Teague Ė I thought David played an excellent first half, followed by a mediocre second half. In the first half, he and Landry pretty much carried Purdue and he had 11 points at halftime. In the 2nd half, he missed a couple of shots early and then basically disappeared from the offense until making a late three-pointer. He finished with 14 points, four rebounds, two blocks and a turnover in 39 minutes.
Matt Kiefer Ė Matt got in foul trouble again tonight and only played 16 minutes. In the time he was in there, Iíd say he was only marginally effective with six points, three rebounds, two assists and two turnovers. I just canít figure out how someone with Mattís ability can be so inconsistent. Iím sure the coaching staff is as puzzled as anyone because this guy should be putting up good numbers against teams like OSU. They really donít have anyone except Dials who can match up with Matt inside and I thought Matt did a poor job of fighting for position.
Gary Ware Ė Gary got some extended minutes tonight and while he was a liability at the offensive end (he only scored two points despite grabbing four offensive rebounds and he turned the ball over four times), he was a force at the defensive end with three blocks. He ended up playing 17 minutes and it was one of his more productive outings since the Big 10 season started.
Charles Davis Ė Charles only played nine minutes tonight, but he did score a basket and pull down three rebounds along with an assist and a turnover in those minutes. I thought it was another good effort from him.
Chris Hartley Ė Chris played quite a bit tonight (21 minutes) and probably played as well as he can. He hit one of his two shots (both three-pointers) and added two rebounds and three assists before fouling out late in the game. Chris isnít the kind of player thatís going to beat anyone off the dribble or create his own shot, but he plays smart and he can hit outside shots if the opponents donít guard him. He also uses his smarts to be fairly effective at the defensive end,
Xavier Price Ė Xavier got the start again tonight and watching him play is maddening. Tonight he had six turnovers in 20 minutes of play and almost every one was the result of a bad decision on Xavierís part instead of some great defensive play by an OSU player. Still, he shows flashes that he has the skills to develop into a productive player and I was glad to see him get some time. My philosophy is that you learn by doing and Xavier certainly got a few lessons tonight. I just hope he keeps his head up and doesnít get discouraged by his mistakes.
So, it was just another dismal night in a season of dismal nights for Purdue and now itís on to Northwestern on Saturday. I think Northwestern is another team Purdue has a chance to beat, but if theyíre going to do it, they had better take a lot better care of the basketball than they did tonight. I think the only encouraging thing about tonightís game was that Purdue seems to have finally figured out that they need to pound the ball inside to Carl Landry at every opportunity. Carl took 20 shots tonight and Iíd like to see him take at least that many every game. He and Kiefer should match up pretty well with Northwesternís big guys and with Northwestern playing a possession type game, I think Purdue has a legitimate shot at getting their first Big 10 road win. Northwestern and Penn State are both teams that have short benches like Purdue does, so it will be interesting to see if Purdueís four main scorers can take advantage of playing against guys who will probably get as tired as they do.