© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: Purdue 70, Ball State 57
There are several things about tonight's game that stick out for me. These include:
(1) Purdue got out-rebounded 29-26 by a team with no starter taller than 6’4”. Purdue’s big men (Johnson and Calasan) had 5 rebounds between them in 29 total minutes. By way of contrast, Ball State’s Melvin Goins (who can’t be 6 feet tall) had 8 rebounds in 32 minutes of play.
(2) Ball State shot 85.7% from beyond the arc and still lost the game by 13 points.
(3) Purdue shot the ball well from the perimeter (10 of 24 for 41.7%) for the 3rd time in the last 4 games.
(4) Purdue forced Ball State into 22 turnovers, which (if I heard Larry Clisby correctly after the game) is double their season average.
(5) Purdue’s players played about 10 or 15 solid minutes tonight and spent the rest of the game in somewhat of a trancelike state with very little concentration or enthusiasm.
As for the game itself, as one might expect when a 4-1 team (Purdue) plays a team that is 0-6 and has also lost their best player to injury (Ball State), the 4-1 team could come out flatter than a pancake. That’s exactly what happened tonight as Purdue turned it over on their first possession and then proceeded to sleepwalk their way through most of the first half. They led 8-0 early after baskets by Hummel, Grant (a 3-pointer) and Moore (another 3-pointer), but Ball State kept hanging in there and eventually came back to tie the game at 17 with about 10 minutes remaining in the half. Purdue then went on a 13-0 run over the next 5 minutes in what would turn out to be their only stretch of good play in the entire half. At this point in the game, it looked like a blow-out for Purdue was in the making, but Ball State kept attacking the basket and closed the half on a 14-6 run of their own to close with-in five points at the break.
When the 2nd half started with a 4 point play by Ball State’s Peyton Stovall (he made a 3-pointer and was fouled by Moore), it looked like Purdue could be in trouble. About 4 minutes later, Ball State took a 44-42 lead and I was having visions of last year’s ISU debacle running through my head. It was at this point in the game that Coach Painter finally decided to “go small” with a line-up that included Kramer, Crump, Moore, Hummel and Martin and that spelled the beginning of the end for Ball State. Crump got things started with a 3-pointer and Kramer followed on Purdue’s next possession with a beautiful driving shot in the lane that he somehow willed in the basket under heavy pressure. Purdue would then score 12 of the next 14 points to take a 59-46 lead with about 7 minutes to play. Purdue would extend this lead to as many as 18 (67-49), before Ball State scored 8 of the last 11 points in the game and the final score was 70-57.
Tarrance Crump – I thought Tarrance had one of the best games of his Purdue career tonight. He shot the ball extremely well (5/8 including 3/3 on 3-pointers) for 13 points and he added 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 turnovers in 19 minutes of play. It’s interesting to note that going into tonight’s game, Tarrance was 8 for 41 in his Purdue career from beyond the arc and Purdue was fortunate that he picked tonight’s game to get hot from outside. I also think Tarrance is trying hard to look for open shooters when he drives to the basket, but he is still having trouble finding them as evidenced by his not having an assist tonight.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja really looked a little bit lost tonight. He got into early foul trouble and only played 6 minutes in the first half. He played a little better in the 2nd half and made a couple of nice shots, but it was easily his least productive game of the year. He ended the night with 4 points, 2 rebounds and 3 turnovers in only 12 minutes of play.
Marcus Green – Marcus continues to come off the bench for Purdue and play some solid minutes at the defensive end of the floor. At the offensive end, Marcus is really struggling with his shot and those struggles continued tonight. Coming into tonight’s game, Marcus was shooting a respectable 7 of 15 from the field (including only 1 of 5 from beyond the arc), but tonight he missed all 6 of his shots (including 0/4 on 3-pointers) and he is now shooting a woeful 33.3% from the field for the year including 1/9 from 3-point range. This is the same Marcus Green who torched UM for 23 points two years ago when he was a freshman (on 9 /13 shooting from the field, including 4/6 from beyond the arc). It kind of makes me wonder how much extra time Marcus is putting in on his shooting.
Keaton Grant – Probably the biggest surprise so far this year has been Keaton Grant’s sudden emergence as a legitimate outside shooting threat. As a freshman last year, Keaton shot just 26.6% (17/64) from beyond the arc and didn’t look comfortable at all with his shot. Coming into tonight’s game, he was 6 of 12 from beyond the arc and after hitting 4 of 6 tonight, he is now 10/18 (5.6%) for the year. In addition, Keaton has been doing a good job of handling the basketball and his defense has been rock solid. Tonight he scored a team high 15 points and added 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and a single turnover in only 24 minutes of play. There were a couple of times when he came to the bench and it looked like he was limping a little bit, but he came back in and showed no signs of any injury, so hopefully it’s not serious.
Chris Kramer – Chris made his first appearance on the floor since suffering a concussion in the Clemson game a little over a week ago. Frankly, I was a little surprised to see him playing, but I was glad he got a chance to get some minutes before Purdue heads to Missouri this Saturday. I didn’t think Chris had much of an impact on the game in the first half (in 11 minutes he had 1 assist), but I thought it was his outstanding defense on Stovall that helped key Purdue’s decisive 2nd half run. He ended up playing 20 minutes in the game and while he only scored 2 points, he added 1 rebound, 2 assists and 2 steals in addition to some suffocating defensive pressure. It’s hard to explain exactly why, but Purdue is clearly a better team with Chris on the floor than they are when he’s not on the floor.
Robbie Hummel – As is normally the case, Robbie didn’t have a big scoring game tonight. However he continues to do just about everything well as evidenced by his 28 minute, 6 point, 6 rebound, 7 assist, 2 steal and 1 turnover performance in tonight’s game. Robbie plays so well at times that it’s hard to believe that he is a freshman playing only his 6th game as a collegian.
JaJuan Johnson – Like Nemanja, JaJuan struggled tonight, but as is the case in most games, he makes enough good plays that it is apparent that it is just a matter of time before he blossoms into a significant contributor for Purdue. A case in point is the offensive rebound he ripped off the glass tonight and then put back in late in the first half. It was the kind of athletic play that had people high-fiving each other in the stands. Despite some struggles, JaJuan’s contributions tonight were still positive and he ended with 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 17 minutes of play.
Scott Martin – It was another workmanlike performance tonight for Scott. I think Scott is doing a great job of playing with-in the system and trying to take shots as they come. Tonight he had 14 points, 1 rebound and 3 assists in 29 minutes of play and I thought he made a couple of huge 3-pointers during Purdue’s 2nd half run that put the game on ice.
E’Twaun Moore – Tonight was not one of E’Twaun’s best games. I thought he lacked focus at times and that lack of focus led to a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers. Perhaps I am being overly critical because he has played so well in the last few games that I’ve come to expect more from him than what he showed tonight. In any case, he ended with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 4 turnovers in a team high 33 minutes of play, so except for the 4 turnovers, his contribution tonight was still pretty good.
Purdue now travels to Missouri where they will face a team that plays very much the same way Clemson does. Purdue can expect a raucous crowd and a full court, in your face, brand of defense that is very hard to simulate in practice. As we saw when Purdue played Clemson, Purdue is a little bit vulnerable to a full court, trapping defense and it will be interesting to see whether they can use their Clemson experience to help them handle Missouri’s pressure defense without giving up easy baskets in transition. I think this game and the Louisville game the following Saturday will go a long way towards revealing whether Purdue is going to be a contender or a pretender in this year’s Big 10 race.
P.S. - I would be remiss if I forgot to metion that I thought Ball State played a heck of a game tonight. They played with composure and they attacked the basket with a purpose on almost every possession. They just don't have the horses to beat a team with as many weapons as Purdue has, particularly on the road. My hat is off to their players and coaches for putting forth such a good effort under such trying circumstances.