© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: Purdue 58, (18) Clemson 61
There’s not much I can say after this loss except it hurts. Purdue had the Number 18 team in the country right where they wanted them, and then couldn’t finish the job. The fact that Clemson won despite shooting a woeful 10 of 26 from the free throw line and playing the entire game without their star player just shows how far Purdue still has to go to be considered a good team. The good news for Purdue is that they played most of the 2nd half with 4 freshmen on the floor and without their emotional leader Chris Kramer. This should pay dividends down the road when Purdue goes into hostile Big 10 arenas.
Both teams got off to slow starts as defense ruled for the first 10 minutes or so and Purdue tied the score at 9 on a basket by Calasan with about 10 ˝ minutes to play in the first half. Clemson scored the next 5 points to take a 14-9 lead, but Purdue clawed back and when Marcus Green stole the ball and scored on a lay-up, Purdue led 17-14 with about 5 ˝ minutes left in the half. From here, the teams basically traded baskets for the rest of the half and Purdue led 26-23 at the break.
About one minute into the 2nd half, Chris Kramer stole the ball and as he was going in to dunk it, he got hit on the legs (I think it was unintentional and it wasn’t much contact (no foul was called), but it caused Chris to lose his balance) and he had to be helped from the court after crashing into the basket support with his head. Clemson then scored a basket to cut the lead to 1 and the teams again traded baskets for the next 8 minutes or so. Purdue finally got things going on two nice jumpers by E’Twaun Moore to take a 41-36 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game. Purdue then held the lead for the next 4 minutes and when E’Twaun hit another jumper at the 6 ˝ minute mark, Purdue led 51-45. Clemson then scored 6 points in about a minute and a half and the game was tied at 51 with 5 minutes to go. Clemson then took their first lead of the 2nd half on a basket by Rivers, but JaJuan Johnson answered with two clutch free throws and the game was tied again at 53 with 4 minutes to go. After a Clemson basket, E’Twaun Moore buried a clutch 3-pointer and Purdue took a 56-55 lead with just over 3 minutes to go in the game. Clemson tied it with a free throw and then Tarrance Crump drove the baseline and scored with less than 2 minutes to go to give Purdue a 58-56 lead. After Clemson tied it on a nice move inside by Booker, Crump again tried to drive the lane but had his shot blocked and recovered by Clemson. On Clemson’s ensuing possession, Rivers drove the baseline and made a well defended shot that bounced on the rim and fell in with 33 seconds to play. Purdue called time out after getting the ball to midcourt and was able to get Robbie Hummel wide open for 15 foot jumper, but he missed. Hammonds was fouled on the rebound and after he made the first one and missed the second, Purdue had one last chance to tie. Scott Martin got a decent look at a 3-pointer, but it too missed and Clemson was able to hold on for a 61-58 win.
Tarrance Crump – Kramer’s injury allowed Tarrance to get a few more minutes than he might otherwise have gotten and I thought he responded pretty well. Tarrance is one of those players who can have you up cheering wildly one minute and then a minute later saying to yourself “What in the devil is he doing!!” I keep hoping Tarrance will learn to play under control all the time, but my guess is that at this point in his career, what you see now is what you are going to get the rest of the year. Frankly, if Tarrance can score 11 points, have 4 rebounds 1 assist and 3 turnovers in 24 minutes like he did tonight, I think the coaches would be happy.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja really came to play tonight and he basically carried Purdue in the first half when he had 10 points and 7 rebounds. Unfortunately, he got into foul trouble and played sparingly in the 2nd half where he added only a single rebound and no points to his first half numbers. This is the 2nd game in a row that Nemanja has faded in the 2nd half and I can’t help but think missing the 2 exhibition games and the first two regular season games has set him back conditioning wise. Still, you have to like the way he plays.
Marcus Green – Marcus gave Purdue a big shot in the arm during the first half when he converted two steals into lay-ups at the other end in a one or two minute span. He finished with 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in 13 minutes.
Keaton Grant – Purdue got a solid defensive effort from Keaton tonight, but he missed all 4 of his shots (most of them badly) and didn’t score in the game. Keaton did pull down 6 rebounds and added 1 assist, 3 steals and 2 turnovers in 22 minutes of play.
Chris Kramer – As I mentioned above, Chris was hurt very early in the 2nd half and did not play the last 19 minutes of the game. Like Keaton, Chris missed all of his shots from the field (0/3) and did his usually solid defensive job. He did have 2 rebounds, an assist and 2 turnovers in 15 minutes, but it was a shame he didn’t get a chance to impact the game in the 2nd half.
Robbie Hummel – I thought Robbie came on strong after a slow start. He didn’t score in the first half, but he finished the game with 7 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and no turnovers in 34 minutes of play. I also liked the fact that he wasn’t afraid to take the big shot at the end of the game. He missed, but he didn’t hesitate and it looked to me like he WANTED the ball in that situation.
JaJuan Johnson – Of the 4 freshmen, JaJuan seemed the most nervous. I thought he forced a couple of shots and he never seemed to get comfortable on the floor. He did make 2 pressure free throws late in the game and I think this game was a good learning experience for him. He finished with 4 points, 1 rebound and no turnovers in 15 minutes of play.
Scott Martin – Scott had another good scoring game tonight with 13 points. He added 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals and 4 turnovers in 31 minutes of play. In one sequence, he missed a lay-up, hustled back down the floor and made a steal and then was called for charging as he drove to the basket at the other end. I liked the hustle and the fact that he didn’t let the missed lay-up bother him. Like Robbie, it looked to me like Scott WANTED to shoot the 3-pointer to tie the game at the end, but unfortunately he also missed. Since he’s shooting 2 for 16 on 3-pointers after tonight’s game, you’ve got to love his optimism even if you question his judgment (Grin).
E’Twaun Moore – Like Robbie Hummel, E’Twaun got off to a slow start in tonight’s game and did not score in the first half. The second half was a different story as E’Twaun got going with several nice jumpers including a huge 3-pointer down the stretch. He finished with 9 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 3 turnovers in 26 minutes of play.
In summary, it’s hard to know how to evaluate this game. Clemson was obviously not at their best without Mays and they shot free throws so poorly that it’s hard for me to think they are deserving of their ranking. Still, they play suffocating defense and with a partisan crowd, it was a tough assignment for Purdue’s young players. When you also consider that Purdue played basically half the game without Chris Kramer, I think you would have to give this team a passing grade in tonight’s game (Certainly not an “A”, but perhaps a “B” or a “B minus”). I do think this game will really help Purdue as they prepare for the Big 10 season. Even without Mays, Clemson played a suffocating full court defense that most Big 10 teams cannot duplicate. Purdue didn’t handle the pressure perfectly, but they never appeared to panic and Clemson never really had any extended scoring runs off their defense. If Purdue’s players can learn from the mistakes they made in this game, I don’t think it’s going to be too long before they beat someone they aren’t supposed to beat.