BOX SCORE: Purdue 61, No.19 Georgia Tech 79
Aloha everyone! We ended up with great seats (courtside directly across from the Georgia Tech bench) and itís amazing to see how quick and athletic these players are from up close. Both teams seemed a little nervous to start the game and I think Purdue led 4-0 at the first media time out. Georgia Tech finally scored and took a small lead before Purdue got untracked, thanks in large part to a couple of three-pointers from David Teague on consecutive possessions. Purdue was able to build a 24-17 lead with only about five minutes to go in the half. This proved to be Purdueís high point for the day as Georgia Tech went on an 11-0 run to close the half, and then used the momentum to gradually pull away from Purdue in the second half and win going away. The disturbing thing about Georgia Techís first half closing run was that it was fueled largely by Purdueís lack of patience in the half court. Teague took two three-pointers about five seconds into consecutive possessions, and had a bonehead play when he walked back out of bounds after taking an in-bounds pass. These kinds of mistakes might be understandable if they were committed by a freshman or even a sophomore, but when they come from a 5th year senior they seem particularly worrisome.
One doesnít have to look too far into the statistics to see the major problems Purdue had with Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech won the rebounding war 41-28, at least partly due to Purdueís poor shooting and Georgia Techís good shooting. Georgia Tech had only two players play more than 26 minutes (Crittenden and Young) while Purdue had four players with more than 30 minutes (Landry, Teague, Kramer and Grant). I think itís fair to say that at least part of Georgia Techís strategy was to wear Purdue down and this strategy bore fruit down the stretch. The other thing that sticks out is free throw shooting. Georgia Tech shot 26 free throws (making 18) while Purdue shot only 18 free throws (making 11). As is the case more often than not, Georgia Tech was the more aggressive team offensively and it paid off with more trips to the free throw line. Georgia Tech was also very effective offensively in the second half. I think they shot 18 of 25 from the field and 14 of 17 from the free throw line, Itís hard for any team, let alone a team like Purdue has this year, to come from behind against that kind of offensive execution. One last thing Ö Purdue shot very poorly from the perimeter (4-of- 24) and thereís no way Purdue can hope to beat a quality team like Georgia Tech unless they knock down a decent percentage from outside.
Carl Landry Ė I thought Carl played a lot harder in the second half than he did in the first and he ended up with 14 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and only one turnover in 32 minutes of play. I think itís starting to dawn on Carl that for him and Purdue to be successful, heís going to have to play a lot harder than he has been. It will be interesting to see how fired up he is tomorrow against Oklahoma.
David Teague Ė I thought David played very poorly today. I was particularly unhappy with his shot selection and it continues to amaze me how David will keep firing from long range even when they arenít falling. Normally, David can do other things to help the team when his shot isnít falling, but today he didnít have any positive offensive contributions (three turnovers, no assists, no steals and no rebounds in 31 minutes). Other than his two consecutive three-pointers midway through the first half, itís hard to find much at all to like about his performance.
Tarrance Crump Ė Tarrance picked up two very quick fouls in todayís game and that limited his playing time. He ended up playing only 15 minutes and his absence was a crucial factor in Georgia Techís scoring spurt to end the first half. All in all, I thought Tarrance played OK today, but heís going to have to find a way to cut down on his fouls if heís going to be an impact player.
Gordon Watt Ė Gordon was a warrior for Purdue on the boards today and he pulled down nine rebounds in only 24 minutes of action. He added eight points, one assist, one steal and one turnover in what I thought was a very workmanlike performance. His performance was even more impressive when you consider he was often giving away a couple of inches and a few pounds to the guy he was guarding.
Marcus Green Ė Iím not sure why Marcus didnít play more today. He had seven points, four rebounds and two steals in only 16 minutes of action and I thought he played pretty well when he was in there.
Chris Lutz Ė Chris spent most of this game in foul trouble and only played 11 minutes. Chris seemed to be a little out of his element against the speed and athleticism of Georgia Techís guards.
Chris Kramer Ė I was very, very impressed with Chrisís play today. He played 32 minutes with nine points, one rebound, three assists, four steals and zero turnovers against a very, very quick Georgia Tech backcourt. Hopefully his scrappy play will rub off on his teammates because if Purdue can get everyone playing with Chrisís energy level, I think they can become a pretty good team.
Keaton Grant Ė Keaton was a real warrior for Purdue today. He rolled his ankle in the second half, but even though he was in obvious pain, he came back and played much of the last 10 minutes. Keaton is still very much a work in progress (as evidenced by his five assists and five turnovers today), but his potential is very high and I think Matt and his coaching staff are doing the right thing by giving him as many minutes as they can and letting him play through some of his mistakes.
Jonathan Uchendu and Dan Vandervieren both played, but itís very obvious that neither one of these two guys is really ready to play at this level. They should be all right against some teams, but against the good ones they are going to struggle. Uchendu did make both of his free throws today and added a rebound in four minutes of play, but I think thatís about as much production as one can reasonably expect from him.
In summary, this game should serve as a wake-up call for the Purdue players. Georgia Tech was very good and it should be obvious to all of Purdueís players that if they hope to compete and win against this level of competition they have to play much harder and smarter than they did today. I think the good news is that Purdue can play better than they did today and that the players are there for this team to be a lot better in January than they are today. One can only hope this game serves as a wake up call.