© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: Purdue 67, Michigan 53
I have to admit that I was nervous about the outcome of this game after what happened in Bloomington on Wednesday. Michigan is a very talented and experienced team that features four seniors and a junior in the starting line-up. They also have excellent size and quickness and while they have not been impressive when they played the good teams on their schedule, they were still 13-3 and looked to be the kind of team that would give Purdue trouble. As the game started, Purdue looked tight and they turned it over on each of their first two possessions and Michigan (behind two Coleman three-pointers) took an early 8-2 lead. Purdue then scored the game's next eight points before Harris hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 11 with about 13 minutes to go. From here, the rest of the first half was pretty much all Purdue and they were sparked by a combination of Watt, Green, Vandervieren, Lutz and Crump as they ran off an 11-2 spurt to take a 22-13 lead with about ten minutes to go and then outscored the Wolverines 20-14 the rest of the way to take a 42-27 lead at halftime.
As expected, Michigan made a run to start the second half and they managed to close the gap to 46-40 with about 14 minutes to go in the game. The chief reason this happened was that Purdue started turning the ball over and Michigan was hitting their outside shots. Purdue managed to regain control by going on consecutive scoring spurts of 10-3 and 11-5 to lead 67-48 with about a minute to play and Michigan scored the game's final five points against Purdue's reserves to make the final score 67- 53. The key to Purdue's victory was Purdue's tenacious man-to-man defense that forced Michigan into 17 turnovers and kept them completely off balance most of the evening. The other key was that each of the nine players who played more than one minute all made some kind of positive contribution. I think it's obvious that his year's Purdue team has more talent than they have had in awhile. But as the season has played out, it's become equally obvious that for Purdue to win games, everyone who plays has to make a positive contribution and that was certainly the case against Michigan.
Carl Landry – Carl continued his excellent play this season as he led the way for Purdue with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 shooting from the free throw line. He also managed seven rebounds, one assist and a single turnover in 30 minutes of dominating play. One of the key match-ups in this game was Carl Landry versus Michigan's leading scorer Courtney Sims and when you consider that Sims ended with four points, one rebound and three turnovers in just 22 minutes of play (he got into foul trouble trying to stop Landry), it's easy to see who won this match-up.
David Teague – David played one of the best games I've ever seen him play. He was extremely effective scoring-wise with 21 points on only ten shots from the field (he was 8-of-10 including 4-of-5 from three-point range) and he added four rebounds, two assists, a steal and two turnovers in 34 minutes of play. He was also very active defensively and I think he was primarily responsible for shutting down Coleman after he had burned Purdue for two early three-pointers (his only points of the game).
Tarrance Crump – I thought Tarrance did a very good job in the first half. He had a couple of plays where I think he normally would have tried to take it to the basket and instead he pulled up and tried to find an open man. His only basket came after he used good judgment and took advantage of an opening to get to the basket. He came into the game early in the second half after Keaton Grant picked up a blocking foul. But after he let his man penetrate to the basket, Matt Painter yanked him and I don't think he ever returned. He ended the night with two points, one block, three assists and more importantly no turnovers in 12 minutes of play and for the first time in a long time I thought Tarrance showed some signs that he was comfortable in the half-court offense.
Gordon Watt – At the offensive end, Gordon had a relatively quiet night with four points, four rebounds and two assists and a turnover in 25 minutes of play. Both of his assists came on picture perfect passes to Dan Vandervieren for easy lay-ups during Purdue's first half 11-2 scoring spurt that essentially gave Purdue control of the game. On the defensive end, he did a wonderful job of helping control the interior and he also managed to come up with a steal. Gordon's one of those players that does a lot of the “dirty work” inside and I think he's rapidly developing into a key player for Purdue.
Chris Lutz – Chris finally broke his Big Ten scoring drought with a very nice reverse lay-up in the second half. I was hoping it might “open up” the basket for him from long range, but it wasn't to be as he missed his next attempt from three-point range. Chris ended the night with two points, one rebound, three assists and no turnovers in 20 minutes of play. All three of his missed field goal attempts were completely wide-open shots (and I mean nobody was with-in five feet of him) and if he ever regains his touch from outside (in non-conference play he shot better than 50-percent from three-point range), he can be a valuable weapon for Purdue.
Marcus Green – Marcus had a shaky start with an air ball on his first shot attempt and his only basket of the night came on a dunk after a superb feed from Keaton Grant late in the game. Still, Marcus was active on the board with three rebounds and he played pretty good defense on guys like Abram and Petway when he was in there. He did have two turnovers and I don't think this will be a game Marcus will remember like he probably remembers last year's Michigan game in Mackey Arena, but I think he still had a positive impact on the game.
Chris Kramer – Chris had a quiet night offensively with only three points, three assists, two rebounds and three turnovers in a somewhat uneven performance. However Chris's real contribution came at the defensive end as he garnered three steals and generally disrupted Michigan's offense with his aggressive play.
Keaton Grant – I thought Keaton played pretty well. He only took three shots (making a nice three-pointer in the second half) but he hit both his free throws and added an assist and two turnovers in 25 minutes of play. I also thought he did a better job of keeping his man from getting to the basket than he has been doing and he managed to stay out of serious foul trouble while doing it, which was a plus.
Dan Vandervieren – This was easily Dan's beat game of the Big Ten season. He only played nine minutes, but he scored six points (2-of-2 from the field and 2-of-2 from the freethrow line) and added a rebound, an assist and a blocked shot. His effectiveness allowed Matt to give Carl Landry a little more rest than he might otherwise give him and I think it had a positive impact on Carl's productivity.
In summary, this was another impressive win for Purdue in Mackey Arena. Purdue shot 56.5-percent from the field, won the rebounding battle 26-23, had 16 assists on 26 made baskets and got five extra possessions by making only 12 turnovers to Michigan's 17. They also held Michigan to only 42.9-percent shooting from the field and about the only negative on the night was that Michigan shot 46.9-percent from beyond the arc. Of course, since Michigan is the first Big Ten team to shoot below 50-percent from three-point territory against Purdue, I guess one could say that it's a small step in the right direction (Grin).
Now, it's on to Madison for an important game against a Wisconsin team that will very likely come into the game ranked No. 2 in the country. As I see it, this is a “no lose” game for Purdue as I doubt very much if anyone thinks Purdue has much of a chance to beat them. However, last year's Purdue team got one of it's rare victories against Wisconsin and we all know that last year's Purdue team wasn't as good as this year's team, so I suppose anything is possible. I'll also say that I think if Purdue is going to have a decent chance at getting an NCAA tournament bid, having a win over a sure-fire NCAA team like Wisconsin would look mighty good on their resume. I'm not predicting a win, but I think Purdue has a shot at winning if they can find a way to play a road game the same way they play in Mackey Arena. That seems to be a tall order for this team, but I don't think there is any good reason why they CAN'T do it either.