BOX SCORE: Purdue 61, No. 25 Virginia 59
Aloha everyone! My wife and I got back tonight from our Hawaii trip in time to watch the Purdue-Virginia game thanks to the miracle of TiVO! I must admit that this game will never be considered an "instant classic", but I know I'd rather "win ugly" than lose "looking good". To me, the keys to tonight's win were:
(1) Very good, hard nosed defense for most of the game.
(2) A terriffic effort on the boards in the second half. For the game, Purdue had 13 offensive rebounds and I think the vast majority of those came in the second half.
(3) Much improved ball-handling in the second half as compared to the first half.
(4) Clutch shooting down the stretch by Green, Teague, Lutz and of course, Crump's last second "floater".
Even though Purdue did not play their best game, I think you have to consider this win a very good one. Especially when you consider that it was achieved without the services of Chris Kramer, and that Purdue shot the ball extremely poorly from both the field (38.6%) and the free throw line (52.9%). It's hard to tell whether or not Virginia played poorly because of Purdue's defensive pressure or because it was just a bad night for them, but I like to think Purdue's defense was at least partially responsible for making them look disorganized at times.
Carl Landry - I thought Carl did a real good job tonight of adjusting to their defensive pressure and not forcing things. He ended up with 19 points, eight rebounds and an assist in 29 minutes. I think it might be the first time all year he played without a turnover. He did end up with four fouls, but he didn't pick up his fourth until less than 30 seconds left in the game and he was never in danger of fouling out.
David Teague - David looks like he is finally shaking off the rust and becoming the player we all hoped he could become. Tonight he scored 14 points, pulled down eight rebounds and added five assists and only two turnovers in a team high 38 minutes of play. In addition, he was a force defensively and I thought his defense on Singletary right before the half was a key play in the game because it denied Virginia a chance to gain some momentum.
Tarrance Crump - Tarrance got off to a slow start tonight by picking up a couple of early offensive fouls. As a result, he never got going until the second half and he finished with only six points, one rebound, five assists and four turnovers in only 22 minutes of action. For this team to be good, it needs Tarrance playing they way he did in the second half. It was great to see him step up and take (and make) the big shot at the end of the game, particularly after he had turned it over on Purdue's previous possession, and hopefully this will help give him some additional confidence.
Gordon Watt - Gordon had a relatively quiet game with nine points, two rebounds, one assist and one turnover in only 27 minutes of action, but his terrific baseline drive and dunk early in the second half seemed to light a fire under his teammates and it's becoming more and more clear that Gordon is going to be a key player for Purdue this year.
Chris Lutz - Chris had an off night shooting the basketball (1-of-6 on three-pointers) but the one he did make was a huge shot late in the game (I think it cut Virginia's lead from 5 to 2). I thought Chris's overall game tonight was one of his better efforts. As evidence of this, Chris pulled down eight rebounds, had two assists, a steal and a blocked shot with no turnovers in 35 minutes of play.
Marcus Green - Marcus came off the bench tonight and scored six points (he hit both of his three-point shots) and added a rebound in 19 minutes of play. Marcus contnues to make positive contributions when he's in there and it's great to have a guy like Marcus on the team because of his versatility.
Keaton Grant - Keaton spent much of the game in foul trouble and eventually fouled out on what I thought was a very dubious call. He did manage 16 minutes and he scored four points, pulled down three rebounds and had an assist and two turnovers in those minutes. Keaton is like a lot of young players in that consistency is not his strong suit, but I look for him to get better and better as the seson goes on.
Dan Vandervieren, Jonathan Uchendu and Bobby Riddell all played, but only Vandervieren (three rebounds in seven minutes) made any kind of positive impact on the game.
In conclusion, I'll say that the win tonight was a welcome surprise. I guess maybe I've become somewhat disillusioned about Purdue's chances in games like this one after what's happened the last couple of years and it was nice to see Purdue pull one out at the end against a pretty good team. That makes Purdue's record 5-1 and if they can get Kramer back healthy in another week or so, they have a decent chance to go into Big Ten play with a pretty good recrd. One thing is for sure, the game with Butler in the Wooden Tradition is shaping up as a very, very big game for Purdue. Who would have thought that was going to be the case before the season started?