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OldGoldFreePress COLUMNISTS | BACK TO MDC'S COLUMNS

PURDUE MENS BASKETBALL:
Purdue 75, Ohio State 68


Published: 1/13/2008
Author: MDC
Old Gold Free Press Columnists

BOX SCORE: Purdue 75, Ohio State 68

As I sat there watching today's game between Purdue and OSU, I got to wondering just how long it had been since Purdue beat OSU because it seemed like it had been forever. Turns out, that forever is just a little less than five years as Purdue's last win over OSU prior to today was January 29, 2003 when Purdue won 70-65 in West Lafayette. That means Purdue snapped an eight game losing streak to OSU today and I think that made the victory all that much sweeter.

Purdue got off to a pretty good start today and led 6-0 early in the game after Keaton Grant banked in a 3-pointer on Purdue's first possession and Marcus Green followed one possession later with another 3-pointer. Neither team could get much going offensively from this point as OSU's offense consisted entirely of 3-pointers from Jamar Butler (he hit 4 in a row and scored OSU's first 12 points) and Purdue was struggling to get good shots against OSU's zone defense. OSU finally got a basket from someone other than Jamar Butler when David Lighty scored on a nice jumper with a little over 12 minutes to go in the half to give OSU a 14-10 lead and when Othello Hunter hit a jumper on OSU's next possession it was 16-10 OSU with 12 minutes to go in the half. Purdue finally got going offensively, but they couldn't stop OSU and after another 5 minutes of play, OSU still led by 6 (26-20). Marcus Green than went on a tear (back-to-back jump shots and a 3-pointer), while OSU could only counter with a field goal from Kosta Koufos. That made the score 28-27 with a little over 5 minutes remaining in the half. Purdue then went cold from the field and could only manage 2 E'Twaun Moore free throws in the last 5 minutes of the half and the score at half-time was 36-29 in OSU's favor. To compound Purdue's woes, the first half ended badly when Chris Kramer threw a careless pass that led to 2 P.J. Hill free throws with 4 seconds to go in the half.

The second half started on a positive note when E'Twaun Moore banked in a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down and this seemed to spark Purdue as they went on a 10-0 run in the first 4 minutes of the half to take a 3 point lead (39-36). I think the key to this good start was some very aggressive defense by Purdue and it looked like OSU was unprepared for the kind of intensity that Purdue was playing with. OSU finally got going on a nice jumper by Koufos and the teams basically traded baskets for the next 5 minutes and the game was tied at 46 with about 11 minutes to play. Keaton Grant then hit a 3-pointer on a nice feed from Tarrance Crump and when he hit another basket on Purdue's next possession, Purdue had its largest lead since early in the game (51-46). Purdue then missed 3 straight chances to extend the lead further and when Jamar Butler hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give OSU a 52-51 lead at the 8 minute mark, I thought perhaps Purdue had missed their chance to put OSU away. After a Media timeout, Evan Turner made 1 of 2 free throws to give OSU what would prove to be their last lead of the game (53-51). Robbie Hummel then hit the game's biggest shot (a 3-pointer from the corner) and when he was fouled on the shot by Koufos, his subsequent free throw gave Purdue a 55-53 lead. Purdue extended the lead to 59-53 with just under 5 minutes remaining, but OSU rallied and cut the lead to 62-58 with just under 4 minutes remaining. Marcus Green then hit a huge shot from the baseline and when Othello Hunter was called for a moving screen on OSU's next possession, he reacted angrily and was hit with an immediate technical. Robbie Hummel hit both free throws and when Marcus Green scored on an offensive rebound about 1 minute later, Purdue had a 10 point lead (68-58) with about 1 minutes to play. OSU then started fouling Purdue on every possession and eventually cut the lead to 3 (71-68) with less than 30 seconds to play in the game, but both E'Twaun Moore and Keaton Grant hit 2 free throws in the last 30 seconds and Purdue held on to win 75-68.

Before I comment on each player, I want to touch on a couple of things about today's game that you might not read about elsewhere.

(1) I thought the crowd was great today. The "Paint Crew" was out in full force and it was great to see them back after the semester break. I think the game was officially a sell-out, although there were a few pockets of empty seats high up behind the baskets. Still, it was the best crowd this year and perhaps the best crowd in the last 3 or 4 years from a noise standpoint. It really reminded me of the way it used to be.

(2) I thought Matt Painter did a tremendous job of coaching today. I don't know if anyone else noticed, but Robbie Hummel only played 10 minutes in the 1st half and then played 17 minutes in the second half. I think Matt intentionally limited Robbie's minutes in the first half so he would be able to conserve his energy for the stretch run. To me, this was a smart move with a player who is coming off an illness and whose stamina is clearly not as good as it would otherwise be.

(3) I thought Purdue won today because Purdue's players played harder and fought harder than the OSU players. Purdue really "took it to" OSU to start the second half and it looked to me like OSU was totally un-prepared for Purdue's intensity. It was a rugged game on both sides, but Purdue never backed off one bit despite being outsized at almost every position.

(4) I think it's important to recognize that one of the strengths of this year's Purdue team is that they have a number of different players that are capable of having big offensive games. Against Michigan it was Keaton Grant. Against MSU it was Chris Kramer and Nemanja Calasan. Today it was Marcus Green. Sooner or later it is going to be one of the freshmen. I think that makes Purdue a dangerous team and I think this team is starting to show signs that they are coming together. Quite honestly, I don't think Purdue would have won this game three weeks ago.

Tarrance Crump Tarrance finally had a couple of good plays today after basically doing nothing in the two previous games. I know he's been fighting through an ankle injury, but Tarrance is a better player than he's shown in the last 6 games and Purdue desperately needs him to snap out of whatever funk he's in. My suspicion is that when he got into trouble in Las Vegas, the coaching staff decided that they couldn't rely on him and he's struggled ever since then. Today he was scoreless in 12 minutes, but he did have a rebound, 2 assists and 2 turnovers in those 12 minutes so there were a few positive signs.

Nemanja Calasan I thought the MSU game might be the turning point for Nemanja because he played great in that game. Today, he struggled once again with turnovers (2) and he missed 5 of his 6 shots from the field. On the positive side, he did have 4 rebounds in 10 minutes of play and he did battle hard on the defensive end.

Marcus Green When Marcus scored 7 straight Purdue points in the first half, I turned to my son Jeff and said, where has this guy been all year? If you will recall, I suggested a few games ago that Marcus stop shooting 3-point shots. At the time, Marcus was 2 of 18 from beyond the arc and it just seemed to me that it was time for him to concentrate on things like rebounding and defense and forget about trying to be a scorer. Thankfully, Marcus doesn't read my thoughts, and even if he does, he doesn't pay any attention to them (Grin) because over the last 3 games, Marcus has hit 6 of 8 from beyond the arc. Today he was 9 of 12 from the field including 3 of 4 from 3-point range and he added 3 rebounds (all of them offensive rebounds), 1 block, 2 steals and only 1 turnover in 23 minutes of play. His 22 points are only 1 below his career high (he had 23 against UM when he was a freshman) and also represent the first time all year he has been in double figures in scoring. About the only negative in Marcus's performance today was his woeful 1 of 4 mark from the free throw line.

Keaton Grant When Keaton banked in his first 3-point shot of the game, I thought he might have another one of those hot shooting days like he did last Saturday against UM. Unfortunately, it was not to be, but Keaton still had a very solid game with 14 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 turnovers in 30 minutes of play. He also made all 6 of his free throws to raise his season average above 80% and I really like the way Keaton has been playing.

Chris Kramer Chris's main contribution to today's win came at the defensive end of the floor. In the first half, Jamar Butler really gave Purdue fits and his 16 points were the primary reason why Purdue trailed by 7 at the break. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I'd bet that at the half Chris said "Let me take Butler in the second half" and take him he did. Butler did have two more 3-pointers in the second half, but one of those was in transition after a missed shot and I think the other one came when Chris was on the bench. In any case, it was a great performance by Chris and I thought it was a key to the game. Chris ended up scoring 8 points and added 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and 3 turnovers in 30 minutes of play.

Robbie Hummel As I mentioned earlier, Robbie saw limited minutes in the 1st half, but played virtually the entire second half. I thought he had a little trouble early getting back into the flow of things, but he warmed up in the second half and I thought his 4 point play midway through the second half after OSU had rallied to overcome Purdue's 5 point lead was the biggest play of the game. Robbie ended the game with 9 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block 1 steal and only 1 turnover in 27 minutes of play.
JaJuan Johnson I thought JaJuan played reasonably well today, certainly better than he did against MSU. H e didn't score from the field (0 of 3) and he missed 3 of his 6 free throws, but he was aggressive with the basketball and he had 6 rebounds in 22 minutes of play.

Scott Martin I thought Scott played an OK game, but he still seems to be struggling a little bit with his shot. Still, today's 3 of 7 performance is a modest improvement over his last 3 games (he was 3 of 23 in the previous 3 games) and Scott ended the day with 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block and 2 turnovers in only 16 minutes of play. I think this was the first time all year that Scott played less than 20 minutes in a game when he wasn't in foul trouble.

E'Twaun Moore E'Twaun is also struggling with his shot. In 3 big 10 games, E'Twaun is only 9 of 27 from the field including only 3 of 12 from beyond the arc and that includes today's 2 of 8 performance (1 of 4 from 3-point range). Despite his shooting troubles, E'Twaun still managed 11 points and added a team high 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 2 turnovers in 30 minutes of play. I also thought that his two free throws with 26 seconds left in the game with Purdue clinging to a 71-68 lead showed that he can perform under pressure.

I don't know if today's win can be considered a "great" win, but I do know it sure felt good. OSU has a lot of talented players and they have an excellent senior point guard in Jamar Butler. I think they are capable of beating just about anyone in the Big 10 and it wouldn't surprise me to see them win a lot of games in the Big 10 this year. I also know that today's win won't mean a thing unless Purdue can follow it up with a win over Iowa on Wednesday and then another one against Illinois next Saturday. When you are a team like Purdue that is scrapping and clawing just to get into the NCAA Tournament, every game is a big game, but since road wins are hard to come by and Iowa is one of the more beatable teams in the league, Wednesday's game is extra important. Purdue can ill afford to let an opportunity to get a road win go by.

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