© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: Purdue 76, Texas Southern 56
Coming off a big victory over Louisville, I was worried that Purdue might overlook Texas Southern and come out flat. To my dismay, that’s exactly what happened. Fortunately, Texas Southern is pretty bad with only eight players on the roster and none of them bigger than about 6’5” tall. I think I read somewhere that their head coach resigned (or was eTECHd) during the summer and it looked like the team has not recovered. In any case, Purdue was able to beat them handily without playing very well and the game was basically over at the half when Purdue took a 32-19 lead after finishing with a 16-4 run over the last 10 minutes or so. At halftime, Purdue was shooting a woeful 32.3% from the field and I knew the coaching staff would make a few adjustments at halftime to get the offense going. When Texas Southern started the 2nd half with nine points in their first four possessions and still trailed 40-28 with a little over 17 minutes to go, I knew it was just a matter of time before Purdue began to pull away. Sure enough, Purdue then went on a 23-12 run over the next 10 minutes to make it 63-40 and the game was all but officially over. Purdue would go on to eventually lead 74-48 with about 2 ½ minutes to play before Texas Southern scored eight of the game's last 10 points against Purdue’s reserves to make the final score 76-56 in Purdue’s favor.
For the game, Purdue enjoyed a 52-26 rebounding advantage, which is about as big a rebounding edge as I can remember from a Purdue team. This huge rebounding advantage along with 17 assists on 25 made baskets more than offset some sloppy ball-handling (Purdue had 17 turnovers) and another mediocre night from the free throw line (Purdue was 18 of 26). About the only real positive about this game was that it allowed Coach Painter to rest most of his players for the tough stretch of games later this week (3 games in 5 days starting Wed. night). This might prove particularly helpful to Hummel, Grant and Kramer as they battle through some problems with their legs.
Tarrance Crump – As has been the case in most of Purdue’s game this year, Tarrance had some good moments along with some bad moments. It’s very frustrating to watch Tarrance make a great steal at the defensive end and then turn the ball over 10 seconds later at the offensive end as he did midway through the 2nd half tonight. What makes it particularly tough to watch is that most of the mistakes Tarrance makes could be avoided if he just used better judgment when he tries to penetrate. Sometimes I think he’s almost too quick because it looks like his body outruns the basketball. In tonight’s game he had 7 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 4 turnovers in 22 minutes of play. He also missed both of his 3-point tries and is now 0 for his last 8 from beyond the arc after making all 3 of his 3-point shots against Ball State.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja was simply horrid in the first half with 0 points, 0 rebounds and 4 turnovers in 9 minutes of play. Nemanja’s poor play continued in the early part of the 2nd half (a turnover and 2 missed free throws), but it looked to me like he gave himself a talking to after missing the free throws and from then on, he played with a lot more intensity and energy. He was active on the boards, he made his remaining free throws and he also hit 3 nice jumpers (one was a 3-pointer). He finished the game with 9 points, 3 rebounds and 6 turnovers in 23 minutes. Hopefully his improved play in the latter stages of the 2nd half will serve as a springboard for better things later this week.
Marcus Green – I thought Marcus continued to give Purdue a lift off the bench tonight and he made a number of plays that helped Purdue secure the win. He was particularly effective on the glass with 10 rebounds in 22 minutes of play. This represents a career high for Marcus (his previous best was 6) and I think that Marcus is really trying hard to concentrate on playing good defense, rebounding the basketball and letting any points come as they may (i.e. – he’s not forcing shots). He ended the night with 5 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover in a season high 22 minutes. It was also great to see Marcus finally nail a 3-pointer late in the game to end a 0 for 12 streak from beyond the arc that stretched clear back to Purdue’s second game.
Keaton Grant – I thought Keaton played well tonight although his minutes were down because of the nature of the game. He ended up playing only 16 minutes and scored 11 points and added 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 0 turnovers. Keaton has quietly become Purdue’s best outside shooter (he’s hitting 51.6% from beyond the arc after making only 26.6% last year) and he’s also become an excellent defender and free throw shooter (81.3% this year vs. 60.8% last year). I’d like to see Keaton be more efficient in distributing the basketball (he’s got only 9 assists vs. 12 turnovers so far this year) but that is about the only real weakness I see in his game right now.
Chris Kramer – It was another quiet evening for Chris. Chris came off the bench for the 4th straight game and while he was his usual pesky self at the defensive end, he didn’t do much at all on the offensive end. He ended up playing only 17 minutes and scored only 1 point, but he did pull down 6 rebounds to go along with 3 assists, 1 steal and 0 turnovers and given the nature of the game, I felt like he did what was expected of him to help Purdue secure the victory.
Robbie Hummel – Like almost everyone else on the team, I thought Robbie played OK, but not up to his usual standard tonight. He did have 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 turnover in only 22 minutes of play but he didn’t seem to have his usual intensity and focus. I suppose that’s understandable given the opponent and the fact that Purdue has to play a lot of games in such a short time frame and I think he’ll be much more intense this coming Wednesday against Wofford.
JaJuan Johnson – I thought JaJuan had a very good outing tonight. He scored a team (and career) high 14 points and added 5 rebounds, 1 block and 1 turnover in only 19 minutes of play. JaJuan pretty much had his way with whoever was guarding him for Texas Southern, but that is to be expected given JaJuan’s size advantage. Still, it was nice to see JaJuan posting up, calling for the basketball and then finishing when he got the pass.
Scott Martin – Scott was basically invisible in the first half (1 point and 2 rebounds in 10 minutes), but he got going in the second half and finished with 11 points, 5 rebounds 2 assists, 1 block and 1 turnover in 22 minutes of play. He had two 3-pointers in about a 3 minute span during the 2nd half that basically put the final nail in Texas Southern’s coffin.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun came right out of the box firing tonight and he hit a 3-pointer on Purdue’s first possession and I thought hitting that shot helped E’Twaun shake off last Saturday’s poor shooting game. He ended up scoring 10 points and adding 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 0 turnovers in 24 effective minutes. E’Twaun continues to lead the team in minutes played, he’s Purdue’s second leading scorer at 10.3 ppg and he’s only one of 3 players (Hummel and Kramer are the others) who have at least as many assists as turnovers.
Purdue’s next opponent (Wofford) comes into Mackey Arena Wednesday night fresh off of an 80-73 loss to Alabama tonight. They have also lost on the road to Arkansas (67-45), Wisconsin (70-43) and Elon (66-57). Their 4 wins have all come at home against teams from smaller conferences. Logic would suggest that Purdue should be a heavy favorite against them, but if they can stick with Alabama, they are capable of pulling an upset against Purdue if the Purdue players don’t take them seriously. Hopefully, Purdue will play better on Wednesday than they did tonight and head to Las Vegas in a positive frame of mind. I think this year’s team has done a good job of setting the stage for a successful pre-Big 10 record and winning these last 4 non-conference games would go a long way towards helping Purdue secure a post-season tournament bid.