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BOX SCORE: Purdue 70, Indiana State 61
Not quite one year ago, I sat in my hotel room in Florida and tried to follow the Purdue-ISU game on the Internet. As most of you will recall, Purdue got beaten badly last year in Terre Haute (89-70) in a game where they were out-rebounded 34-23 and Coach Painter was ejected. At the time, I could not believe Purdue could lose that badly to what turned out to be a very poor ISU team. I think that game just reinforced the feeling that I have that there is really not a lot of difference anymore between being a good college basketball team and a mediocre college basketball team. Just about every team has players that can play and if a team has an off night, they can easily lose to a team they should beat. As I sat watching today’s game, I thought surely lightning couldn’t strike twice in less than a year. Fortunately, I was right and Purdue pulled away late to win 71-60 in a game that was much closer than the final score.
Purdue actually got off to a pretty good start today (ISU had a shot clock violation on their first possession and Grant had a steal on their 2nd possession that led to a lay-up by Hummel) and took an early 4-0 lead. I think they hit 8 of their first 12 shots in pulling out to a 22-12 lead with about 9 minutes to go in the first half. It was at this point in the half that Purdue started to have a lot of trouble controlling dribble penetration and ISU was able to score on virtually every possession. They closed the half with an 11-5 run during the last 3 minutes to take a 37-35 lead. I think it was during the last 6 or 7 minutes of the half where Chris Kramer’s absence was the most noticeable. Both Martin and Hummel were in foul trouble with 2 fouls apiece and Purdue’s defense just wasn’t very good during this part of the game.
ISU started the 2nd half the same way they ended the first half and after about 3 minutes they led 44-37. I think it was at this point that it began to dawn on the crowd that Purdue was in trouble. It was also at this point in the game where Matt Painter substituted Nemanja Calasan for JaJuan Johnson and Purdue finally began to show signs of life. E’Twaun Moore got things started with a 3-pointer and Purdue slowly began closing the gap. It took awhile, but Purdue finally regained the lead 55-54 at the 8 minute mark on a basket by Keaton Grant and when he followed that basket with a 3-pointer (one that bounced in) about a minute later, Purdue was off to the races. Purdue ended up out-scoring ISU 21-6 over the last 8 ˝ minutes of the game to win going away.
Tarrance Crump – Tarrance got off to a good start in today’s game with a couple of nice assists to Calasan and Hummel, but then his penchant for trying to do too much by himself took over and he finished the half poorly with 3 turnovers and a very poor shot in the last 3 seconds of the half. To his credit, Tarrance came back and played pretty well in the 2nd half and he finished the day with 4 points, 2 assists and 3 turnovers in 20 minutes of play.
Nemanja Calasan – After a slow first half, Nemanja turned it on in the 2nd half and was the catalyst both offensively and defensively for Purdue. He gives Purdue a physical presence inside that was extremely important today and I think he’s going to be a very key player for Purdue this year. He ended the day with a team high 16 points and he added 6 rebounds (5 of them offensive rebounds), 1 assist, 1 block and a lone turnover in 25 minutes of play. He would be my choice for Purdue’s player of the game.
Marcus Green – I thought Marcus had a tough day today. He missed the front end of a 1-1 at a key time in the 2nd half and followed that by making only 1 of 2 free throws the next time down the floor. He also took an ill-advised 3-pointer less than 10 seconds into a key possession with about 6 minutes to go in the game. Marcus got a little bit more playing time today than he normally does because of Kramer’s absence and I thought it was a perfect opportunity for him to step up. I was disappointed when he didn’t. Marcus ended the game with only 2 points, 1 rebound and 2 assists in 18 minutes of play.
Keaton Grant – I thought Keaton played a very good game today. He shot the ball well from the field (4 of 5 including 3 of 4 from 3-point range for 11 points) and he added 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals in 30 minutes of play. He also had 3 turnovers, but with Kramer out, he handled the ball a little more than he normally would and I don’t recall any of his turnovers being particularly glaring. It was great to see him shooting the ball with such confidence and hopefully he can keep it going.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie got off to a good start today with 9 of Purdue’s first 22 points, but he got into foul trouble and he was only able to add one more point in the last 29 minutes or so. He finished the game with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 23 minutes of play. Robbie has quickly become a very key player for Purdue and it’s important that he stay out of foul trouble if Purdue is going to have a chance to beat some of the better teams on their schedule.
JaJuan Johnson – JaJuan made a nice basket on Purdue’s first possession of the game and that led to a pretty decent first half (6 points, 4 rebounds a block and a steal in 13 minutes) but when he started out the 2nd half with 2 straight misses in the first 3 minutes, Coach Painter put him on the bench and he never returned. I think the only reason JaJuan didn’t get back in the game was because Nemanja was playing so well and because ISU basically went with 4 guards the whole game and it was almost impossible to match-up with them with both Nemanja and JaJuan on the floor at the same time.
Scott Martin – It was nice to see Scott finally get untracked from beyond the arc. Today he was 2 of 4 from there, but more importantly he hit a huge 3-pointer with just under 6 minutes to go that stretched Purdue’s lead to 7 and took some of the wind out of ISU’s sails. Scott finished the day with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 turnovers in 33 minutes of play and I thought he had a very good game.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun had a wonderful game today. He basically carried Purdue offensively during the latter stages of the first half and the early going in the 2nd half with 11 straight points and he also led the team in rebounding and assists. One of those assists was a beautiful pass to Keaton Grant on a fast break (after Keaton’s steal) that gave Purdue its first lead of the 2nd half. E’Twaun finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and 2 turnovers in 35 minutes of excellent play. I think it’s obvious that E’Twaun is finally becoming comfortable on the floor and his confidence seems to be growing with each game.
If you take Purdue’s 22-12 run to start the game and add the 21-6 run that finished the game, Purdue was outscored by ISU 42-28 during the middle half of the game. Purdue got away with that poor stretch of play because ISU was simply no match for Purdue on the boards (Purdue out-rebounded ISU 40-31) and Purdue had more offensive weapons than ISU did. I think Chris Kramer’s absence today was a big part of the reason why Purdue had this lull and hopefully he’ll be back at full strength soon. To get an idea of how important Chris is to Purdue’s defense, consider that going into today’s game, Purdue was forcing 23 turnovers a game. Today, ISU had 14. Clearly, Chris’s absence doesn’t explain the entire difference, but it’s also clear that his absence does have an impact.
Purdue now stands a t 4-1 for the year with home games against Ball State, Texas Southern, Wofford and Florida International remaining along with road games against Missouri, Louisville, Iowa State (in Las Vegas) and either Alabama or Missouri State (also in Las Vegas). If they can win their remaining home games and split the 4 road games; that gets them to 10-3 going into the Big 10 portion of the schedule. To me, that’s a lofty goal, but not an unrealistic one. With Michigan losing to Brown today, Iowa losing at home to a small school on Friday night and OSU getting drubbed by Butler, it looks like the Big 10 is going to be very weak this year. To me, that means Purdue is going to have to find a way to finish in the top 3 or 4 teams if they hope to get an NCAA Tournament bid because I don’t see the conference getting more than 4 bids this year. The road to accomplishing this task starts with beating Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan twice and continues with holding home court against Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin, Penn State, OSU and Illinois. That would give Purdue 12 conference wins and almost assuredly a top 4 seed in the Big 10 tournament. It’s true that this is also a lofty goal, but I don’t think it’s an unrealistic one.