BOX SCORE: Purdue 78, Loyola (Chicago) 62
Before tonight's game I was somewhat concerned that Purdue's players might have a tendency to look past Loyola even though Loyola gave them a pretty sound beating a year ago. Much to my dismay, the start of the game proved my fears were well founded. Purdue came out shooting primarily jump shots and missed nine of their first 11 shots (all nine misses were jumpers and the two makes were lay-ins) and Loyola came out strong and hit nine of their first 11 shots. Fortunately for Purdue, Purdue's defense was once again making a lot of plays and forcing turnovers that kept them in the game. The score was 24-17 in Loyola's favor with about five minutes to go in the half when Loyola missed a three-point shot. On Purdue's next possession, Chris Kramer buried a three-pointer that cut the lead to four, and that seemed to ignite Purdue's players. They scored 16 of the next 20 points to end the half on a 19-4 run and take an eight point lead at the half. Included in this run was a diving steal by Carl Landry with an outlet pass to a streaking Gordon Watt for an easy lay-up as well as another Gordon Watt lay-up after a nice move down the lane. It also featured a picture perfect jump shot from Chris Kramer from just inside the three-point line, which came after a steal by Tarrance Crump.
After that beautiful run to finish the first half, I was looking forward to seeing if Purdue could come out strong in the 2nd half and put this team away. Once again I was disappointed as Loyola came out clicking on all cylinders (I think they scored on their first seven possessions) to cut the score to 44-43 in Purdue's favor. At this juncture, Matt Painter called time-out and spent the whole time-out using the clipboard to show the players what he wanted done. I'm not sure exactly what the changes were, but from then on, Purdue dominated the game and ended up winning easily by the score of 78-62. I thought it was a nice job of making some in-game adjustments to counter what Loyola was doing.
Carl Landry – In the early going in both halves, Carl was about the only Purdue player who was scoring and he basically kept Purdue in the game until everyone else got going. Not only did Carl lead the team with 22 points, he also led the team with eight rebounds and also managed to find time to add three assists (one on a beautiful feed to Marcus Green for an easy lay-up), one steal and two blocks in a terrific effort. He did have four turnovers, but three of those came late in the game when the game was already decided and I thought Carl made excellent decisions tonight until that last few minutes.
David Teague – It's hard to say enough good things about the way David played tonight. Sure, there are times when I think David pulls the trigger on a three-pointer a little too early in a possession. But tonight he was magnificent at both ends of the floor and when he's hitting those shots, it really tends to demoralize the other team. Perhaps the most important stat from tonight's game was that Loyola's leading scorer (Brent Schilb) was only 3-of-13 from the field (including 0-of-6 from three-point range). Basically, David Teague just shut him down and I don't think Schilb scored at all after about the first seven or eight minutes until he made a couple of free throws with about a minute left in the game when David had already taken a seat on the bench. In addition to playing such great defense, David also scored 16 points, pulled down six rebounds, passed out six assists and added a steal and two turnovers in 33 excellent minutes of basketball.
Tarrance Crump – Tarrance's main contributions tonight were on the defensive end, although he did make two beautiful "runners" in the lane for his four points. He also had one rebound, two assists, two steals and only one turnover in 23 minutes. Tarrance gave everyone a scare during the first half when he fell to the floor after attempting a lay-up (Marcus Green cleaned up the miss) and then limped off the floor. Matt put him back in several minutes later and it looked like he did not have any lingering pain. I suspect he may be stiff and sore for a day or two, but I don’t think he was seriously injured.
Gordon Watt – Gordon hasn't played as well these past couple of games as he was earlier. I think that might be because the other teams have had a chance to scout him and are playing him a little tougher than they were earlier. Still, Gordon was one of the catalyst’s during Purdue's run during the latter stages of the first half and it's obvious that his play is one of the keys to any success Purdue is having this year. Tonight he scored six points, pulled down two rebounds and added two steals, an assist and a turnover in 20 minutes of play. He also got into foul trouble and I think that's one of the reasons his rebounding numbers were down.
Chris Lutz – I thought Chris Lutz did another excellent job tonight. He's doing a much better job this year handling the basketball and his shooting has really been impressive. Tonight he scored only nine points, but it seemed like all of them came at crucial times and he was pretty productive since he only shot the ball four times. He also added two rebounds, three assists, two steals and only one turnover in 27 minutes. I'm not sure Purdue is quite as good defensively when Chris is on the floor versus say Chris Kramer, but Chris sure seems to be holding his own on the defensive end.
Marcus Green – Marcus had a very good game tonight off the bench with 11 points, and a rebound in only 17 minutes of action. In my view, Marcus continues to improve in virtually every aspect of his game and the nice thing about having him on the roster is that there is no noticeable fall off in the way the team performs when he's on the floor. In fact, I think Purdue’s top eight players all complement each other very well.
Keaton Grant – I thought Keaton made several valuable contributions tonight. It was his three-pointer that seemed to get Purdue going offensively in the first half after they missed nine of their first 11 shots. He also provided some solid minutes handling the ball when Tarrance Crump was injured. He ended up scoring only five points, but he added two rebounds, three assists, two steals and two turnovers in 23 solid minutes of play.
Chris Kramer – It was great to see Chris back on the floor. Matt said after the game that he didn't even ask Chris if he was ready, he just put him in and the results were pretty good. He only played 16 minutes, but he scored five points along with two rebounds, three assists, two steals and a turnover. Chris had one play where he stole the ball and went the length of the floor but missed the lay-up and it looked like he just didn’t get any "lift" when he went up. He came back after that to nail two picture perfect jump shots (one a three-pointer) during Purdue’s first half run and he was definitely one of the keys to tonight's win.
Jonathan Uchendu and Dan Vandervieren both played a couple of minutes in the first half (and both had a rebound) and they both got in the game late along with Bobby Riddell and Chris Hartley, but Purdue’s first eight players did essentially all of the heavy lifting tonight.
Looking at the box score, there are a couple of things that stick out on the negative side. For the second game in a row, Purdue gave up way too many offensive rebounds (14 tonight) and once again the free throw shooting was not all that good (13-of-19). Other than that though, Purdue was pretty darn good. They forced 19 turnovers (15 in the first half) and had 11 steals. They also had 20 assists on 28 made baskets and they shot a very respectable 28-of-59 from the field including 9-of-21 from three-point range. They also did an excellent job of handling the basketball (12 turnovers) and would have been in single digits in turnovers except for some sloppy play in the last three minutes when the game was already decided.
I’ll close with the thought that this year's team seems to be getting better as the season progresses. I think we’re going to know a lot more about just how good this team might be after the next two games (I think both Missouri and Butler are undefeated) but there’s no question that this year’s Purdue team has come a long way since that first exhibition game. I think that if they continue to improve and stay relatively healthy, they have a shot at being one of the "surprise" teams in the country this year. I also think Matt Painter is doing a great job "managing" his personnel. Loyola had four guys play 31 minutes or more tonight while Purdue had only two (Landry and Teague) play more than 27 minutes and I think that extra rest was beneficial to Purdue down the stretch. I'm not sure what the biggest one season turnaround is in Purdue basketball history (and I'm too tired to look it up (Grin)) but I'd be surprised if this year's team didn’t have a crack at that record before the year is over.