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Purdue got off to another good start today and after two minutes they led 8-3. During this stretch, David Teague hit two 3-pointers and Chris Kramer had a steal and a pass to Gordon Watt for an easy lay-up. Penn State’s only basket during this stretch was a very tough 3-pointer by Morrissey that was to be an omen of things to come. From here, the game went back and forth and Penn State actually took the lead at one point 17-14 before David Teague hit his third 3-pointer of the half to tie the game at 17 with about 10 minutes left in the half. At this point in the game, David already had 13 points and he was about the only one doing anything offensively as Penn State had Carl Landry pretty well bottled up. Purdue then went on a 17-2 run over the next 8 ˝ minutes or so to lead 34-19, before Morrissey hit another 3-pointer in transition to make the score 34-22 at the break. Chris Kramer keyed Purdue’s 17-2 run with 3 steals and it was also helped by the emergence of Carl Landry who scored all 9 of his first half points during this stretch.
Purdue and Penn State traded baskets early in the 2nd half and Penn State cut the lead to 8 before back-to-back 3-pointers by David Teague extended the lead to 44-30 with 14 minutes to go. Then Morrissey (who else!) scored 7 straight points for Penn State on back-to-back 3-pointers (he was fouled on the first one by Lutz and converted the free throw for a 4-point play) and all of a sudden it was a ballgame again at 45-37 (Landry made a free throw between the 3-pointers). Penn State would eventually close the gap to 47-45 before Keaton Grant hit two free throws and a 3-pointer that hit the front of the rim, the back of the rim, bounced high in the air and fell through to give Purdue some breathing room at 52-45 with about 6 minutes left. Penn State then got back-to-back 3-pointers from Luber and Walker and all of a sudden, Purdue’s lead was only 1 with 4 ˝ minutes to go. At this point, I thought to myself that we were going to see if Purdue learned anything from their game at Minnesota. Fortunately, it appears that they did, because they turned up the defensive pressure and did a good job of milking the clock and protecting a slim lead by making free throws in the last 30 seconds as they held on to win 64-60.
Carl Landry – If you watched today’s game, you probably thought a wrestling match had broken out under Purdue’s basket on virtually every possession. Carl was alternately grabbed, held and mugged by Hassell, Bogetic, Claxton and Cornley and every point he scored today was hard earned. As I mentioned earlier, it took Carl a while to get going, but once he did, Penn State had a very difficult time with him. All 4 of Penn State’s big guys finished the game with 4 fouls and there’s no doubt that they all would have fouled out had the officials called a closer game in the paint. Carl ended up with 24 points (on only 9 shots – he was 12 of 15 from the stripe), 6 rebounds, 1 block, 2 steals and 3 turnovers in 37 minutes of play and my guess is that he will be sore for a couple of days from the pounding he took.
David Teague – What can you say about David except you have to love the way he played today. Not only did he carry a lot of the offensive load with 20 points (on only 12 shots), he was also the guy primarily responsible for holding Geary Claxton in check. Claxton came into the game as Penn State’s leading scorer and while he really hurt Purdue on the boards (he had 14 rebounds), he only scored 8 points and David’s defense was a big part of the reason for that. David also managed to grab 3 rebounds, pick up 2 steals and committed just 2 turnovers in 31 minutes of play.
Tarrance Crump – Tarrance played 12 minutes today and other than a beautiful drive to the basket for a lay-up, he didn’t do much of anything on the offensive end. For some reason, Tarrance seems to struggle in the half-court offense and I’m a little disappointed that after 16 games he hasn’t progressed more than this. Defensively, I thought he did a good job of putting pressure on the basketball, but you’d think a guy with his kind of quickness would get a few steals here and there, but it’s not happening.
Gordon Watt – I thought Gordon played a key role in today’s win. He only scored 5 points, but 3 of them came on a 3-pointer that kick-started Purdue’s 17-2 first half spurt and his rebound of a missed free throw with 30 seconds to go and Purdue clinging to a 5 point lead was huge. For the day, Gordon played 29 minutes and had 5 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 turnover. He also helped hold Cornley in check (Cornley had only 7 points) at the defensive end.
Chris Lutz – Chris had one of those days where he was getting good looks, but he couldn’t make anything. He ended up playing only 14 minutes and going 0 for 3 from the field (all 3-pointers) but he did manage 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 turnovers in those minutes and it looked to me like he was working pretty hard while he was in there. On the defensive end, he was guarding Morrissey when he made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and on the second one I thought he was in good position but Morrissey just made a tough shot. On the first one, he was a step late getting there and then compounded the mistake by fouling.
Marcus Green – Marcus had a big 3-pointer just before the end of the half (his only points) and he added 2 nice assists and a rebound in 14 minutes of play. More importantly, he didn’t commit a single turnover and I thought his play today was a mrked improvement over his play In the Minnesota game.
Chris Kramer – Chris didn’t score a lot today, but his impact on the game was huge. In the first half alone, Chris had 6 steals as he continually disrupted anything Penn State tried to do offensively. He also was instrumental in shutting down Morrissey in the 2nd half after his back-to-back 3-pointers got Penn State back in the game. I think Morrissey got one more 3-poiner the rest of the game, but that was with less than 10 seconds left and the game out of reach. Finally, Chris made perhaps the biggest basket of the day when eh drove the baseline and scored over Claxton with about a minute to go and Purdue clinging to a 1 point lead. For the day, Chris finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 6 steals and no turnovers in 33 excellent minutes. If this kid ever develops a consistent jump shot, he’s going to be very hard for the opponents to handle.
Keaton Grant – Keaton struggled from the field today (1 of 6), but as I mentioned earlier, the one he hit was a huge 3-pointer in the 2nd half after Penn State has made a run to get back in the game. He also made both end s of a 1-1 free throw opportunity during that same stretch. For the day, he ended up with 5 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 3 turnovers in 26 minutes of play. Personally, I think Keaton is making good progress in adapting to his starting role and while I don’t think he’s a natural point guard, I think he’s working hard to learn his role.
Dan Vandervieren – Dan got into the game for 4 minutes during the first half and had one very nice rebound. He also spent a minute or two on the floor at the same time as Carl Landry (which was something Purdue has not done very much this year, if at all). I think the coaching staff would like to give Dan more time, but with the games being so close, it’s hard to sit Carl Landry very much.
In summary, I think this was a solid win for Purdue. Penn State came into this game on a roll having scored over 200 points in their last two games and Purdue pretty much shut them down in the first half with only 22 points. Penn State got hot from the perimeter during the 2nd half, but Purdue’s interior defense was pretty good considering some of the mismatches Penn State had inside. This was the 2nd game in a row that Purdue had an excellent defensive effort in the first half and if they can figure out a way to keep that up for 40 minutes, Purdue could surprise a few teams this year. On the offensive side, Purdue still seems to be struggling to generate any kind of consistent half-court offense. Penn State opened the game in a man-to-man defense, but quickly abandoned it to go strictly zone the rest of the way. I thought Purdue had much better shot selection today than they did against Minnesota, but they’re going to have to start knocking down their outside shots more consistently if they’re going to compete with the Big 10’s best teams. I also think Purdue has got to get more production from their bench. Against Minnesota, the bench played 55 minutes and only scored 7 points. Today, the bench played 44 minutes and only scored 5 points. I think Purdue’s bench is better than that and it’s time they start showing it.