© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: No. 11 Wisconsin 56, Purdue 60
Going into today’s game, I thought Purdue had a chance to beat Wisconsin if they could keep someone other than Brian Butch or Trevon Hughes from having a big game and if they could continue to shoot the ball well from both the perimeter and the free throw line. To my pleasant surprise, Purdue managed to do all three of those things and was able to come away with a very hard earned win today by the final score of 60-56. Wisconsin came into the game shooting 47.3% from the field and was out-rebounding their opponents by almost 8 rebounds per game (37.3 vs. 29.4). In addition, they were turning the ball over an average of about 2 times less than their opponents. In today’s game, Purdue managed to hold Wisconsin to 38.5% shooting from the field and out-rebounded them 35-32. In addition, Purdue also won the turnover battle with 11 to Wisconsin’s 13. I didn’t think Purdue played all that well at the offensive end (probably because Wisconsin is a really good defensive team), but their defense was able to make key stops when they had to and guys like Hummel, Moore, Kramer and Calasan all made some very timely shots down the stretch. In addition, Purdue’s bench out-scored Wisconsin’s bench 13 to 7 and played less minutes (47 vs. 51). All in all, it was an excellent win for Purdue and puts them in position to be a significant factor in the Big 10 race.
The game itself reminded me of a boxing match where both boxers stand toe-to-toe trading punches with no quarter given or asked. Defense dominated in the early going and the game was tied 4-4 at the first Media timeout. Tarrance Crump then scored his only basket of the day on a nice feed from Robbie Hummel on a fast break and when Chris Kramer followed with an old-fashioned 3-point play, Purdue took a 9-4 lead with about 14 ˝ minutes to play in the half. One possession later, Scott Martin drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Purdue had its largest lead of the half (12-4) with just under 12 minutes left in the first half. After another Media time-out, Wisconsin finally got untracked offensively and went on a 7-0 run to close the gap to 1 (12-11. During this stretch, Purdue missed 7 straight shots and I thought a couple of them were taken way too early in the shot clock. E’Twaun Moore finally got Purdue going again with a 3-pointer, but Wisconsin answered with a couple of baskets and the game was tied at 15 with just under 7 minutes to go in the first half. I think it was at this point that I told my wife that it looked like one of those games where the first team to 60 points was going to win. Little did I know (Grin)? From here, the game was tied a couple of times (the last time at 23 all) and then Keaton Grant hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Purdue a 29-23 lead with under a minute remaining in the half. Purdue was able to get the ball back on a Wisconsin turnover with less than 30 seconds to go in the half, but as they were setting up a last second shot, Keaton Grant got called for an extremely dubious offensive foul off the ball and when Trevon Hughes then banked in a 3-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded, Purdue led by only 3 (29-26). At the time, I thought it was the kind of game-changing play that might alter the outcome of the game, but luckily that proved not to be the case.
Wisconsin came out hot to start the 2nd half and quickly ran off 5 straight points to take a 31-29 lead. Nemanja Calasan then made a nice move in the lane and scored on a baby hook shot after a loose ball scramble and the game was tied at 31. Brian Butch then hit a 3-pointer, but Chris Kramer and E’Twaun Moore both hit short jumpers and JaJuan Johnson dunked on a nice feed from Scott Martin and Purdue led by 3 (37-34) once again. Wisconsin battled back and finally regained the lead (41-40) on two Jason Bohannon free throws with about 10 minutes left in the game. Purdue then went on a 7-0 run (2 Robbie Hummel free throws, a 3-pointer from E’Twaun Moore and a lay-up by Chris Kramer) to take a 47-41 lead with less than 8 minutes remaining in the game. Brian Butch then made 1 of 2 free throws, but on Purdue’s next possession, Nemanja Calasan hit a huge 3-pointer and Purdue had its largest lead of the game (50-42). Brian Butch was fouled again, but only made 1 of 2 free throws and when E’Twaun Moore answered with a beautiful runner in the lane, Purdue led by 9 (52-43) with a little over 6 minutes remaining in the game. At this point, I thought Purdue had the game under control, but like any good team, Wisconsin refused to fold and they scored 7 straight points over the next 2 minutes to cut Purdue’s lead to 2 (52-50). Robbie Hummel then nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to restore the lead to 5 and after Wisconsin came away empty on their next two possessions, E’Twaun Moore made another nice runner in the lane and Purdue led by 7 (57-50) with just over 2 minutes to play. During the stretch that preceded E’Twaun’s basket, the game clock malfunctioned and Coach Painter alertly called it to the official’s attention. It was a good catch because the clock had stopped a good 30 seconds before time was called and those 30 seconds proved crucial at the end of the game. Wisconsin refused to go away quietly and they scored 4 straight points to cut the lead to 3 (57-54) with 2 minutes to go in the game. On Purdue’s next possession, Chris Kramer drove down the lane and got knocked to the ground by Brian Butch, but for some reason none of the officials saw fit to call a foul. Wisconsin called time-out to set up a 3-pointer from Jason Bohannon, but it rimmed out and Joe Krabbenhoft got the rebound but threw it away and Chris Kramer was fouled in the ensuing scramble. He made the first free throw, but missed the second and Purdue led by 4 (58-54) with 1:16 left in the game, Wisconsin came down and worked the shot clock down and eventually got an easy layup from Marcus Landry with 50 seconds left to play. On Purdue’s next possession, E’Twaun Moore had a short jump shot go down in the basket, but roll around the rim and pop back out. Nemanja Calasan looked to be in great position for a tip-in, but he got shoved in the back (no call) and Wisconsin was able to grab the rebound and call time-out with 13 seconds to go in the game. On Wisconsin’s possession, Michael Flowers came off a high screen and drove down the lane with Robbie Hummel shadowing him. It looked for a second like he was going to get all the way to the rim, but Robbie blocked the shot with his left hand and also grabbed the rebound. He was fouled with 1.2 seconds showing on the clock and when he nailed both free throws, Purdue came away with a narrow 60-56 victory.
Tarrance Crump – Tarrance played sparingly today (11 minutes) and had 1 basket and 1 steal in what I would characterize as just an OK performance. There was a stretch in the first half where he let his man (Trevon Hughes) get by him on two consecutive possessions for easy baskets, but Tarrance did come back and do a much better defensive job in the 2nd half.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja had a rough first half, but he came back and played really well in the second half. His 3-pointer in the 2nd half that gave Purdue a 50-43 lead was a huge shot because it helped keep Purdue’s offensive momentum going. Nemanja finished the day with 5 points, 6 rebounds, 1 block and 1 turnover in 18 minutes of play. His 6 rebounds represent a Big 10 high for Nemanja.
Marcus Green – Marcus also paled sparingly today (only 7 minutes) and missed his only shot. He did have 1 rebound, 2 assists, a steal and 2 turnovers in those minutes. I think both of his turnovers were for moving screens and they negated what otherwise would have been a pretty good effort by Marcus.
Keaton Grant – Keaton had his 2nd successive quiet game, but he did hit 2 huge 3-pointers late in the first half to give Purdue a 6 point lead and he also extended his string of consecutive made free throws to 26 (he’s 26 of 26 in Big 10 play). Keaton ended the day with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, a steal and 3 turnovers in 35 minutes of play. I thought he also did a credible job of defending Wisconsin’s leading scorer (Trevon Hughes). Trevon had 11 points, but 3 of those were right at the end of the first half when Hummel was on him and 4 more came when Tarrance Crump was guarding him.
Chris Kramer – Chris had his best scoring game in awhile (8 points) and he also played his usual scrappy floor game. In addition to his scoring, Chris had 3 rebounds, 1 assist 1 block, 1 steal and zero turnovers in 37 minutes of play. He also basically shut down Jason Bohannon from the field when Jason was in the game.
Robbie Hummel – I thought Robbie played another terrific game today. He’s playing so well, it’s easy to forget that he’s only a freshman. Today he had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assist, 1 block and 2 turnovers in 30 minutes of play. He also did an excellent defensive job on Marcus Landry (Landry was only 2 for 10 for 5 points) and his defensive play at the end of the game (described above) was the kind of play great players make in the clutch.
JaJuan Johnson – After struggling somewhat in his first 6 Big 10 games, JaJuan started to assert himself today. He was active at both ends of the floor and I thought he gave Purdue a real lift off the bench today. He ended the day with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 block and 2 steals in 21 minutes of play and about the only flaw in his performance was a couple of long jumpers (one was a 3-pointer) that missed. Frankly, I was a little bit surprised to see JaJuan shooting from outside, but it appeared as if he has the green light from the coaching staff and that means he must be making them in practice.
Scott Martin – Scott got in early foul trouble and ended up playing only 8 minutes today (he finished with 4 fouls). I think Matt Painter would have gotten him back in the game late, but both Robbie Hummel and E’Twaun Moore were playing with 4 fouls and I think he was keeping Scott in reserve in case one of them picked up his 5th foul. On top of that, Brian Butch is a real load size-wise, and when he was in the game, Purdue almost had to have either JaJuan Johnson or Nemanja Calasan in the game to counter him. Scott ended the day with 3 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 turnover.
E’Twaun Moore – I think E’Twaun is quietly establishing himself as one of Purdue’s best players. Today he hit a couple of 3-pointers and he was very effective in getting into the lane and finishing. He ended the day with a team high 16 points (only 2 off of his career high) and added 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 turnovers in 33 minutes of play. He also did a very nice defensive job on Michael Flowers.
Next up for Purdue is a visit from the Iowa Hawkeyes on Wednesday night. It will be exactly two weeks since Purdue won in Iowa City 67-62 and I think this upcoming game has all the signs of what folks like to refer to as a “trap” game. Iowa has not been very good on the road this year, but they had an easy win tonight over Penn State and I think Purdue had better not take them lightly or they could be in trouble. We’ve seen earlier this year that Purdue has had some trouble handling success (losing to Wofford just 4 days after beating Louisville) and I think this Iowa game will be a good test to see if the players have learned anything from that experience. This win today won’t mean anything unless Purdue can take care of business against Iowa.
I’ll finish with a salute to the students and everyone else who attended today’s game. I understand that several students camped outside of Mackey Arena on Friday night to be first in line for the courtside seats in the Paint Crew and I can’t remember that ever happening before. The excitement level walking into Mackey Arena today was the best it’s been since the middle 90’s and the crowd was fantastic. I’ll also note that Matt Painter said after the game that they are trying hard to get the program back to where it was when Gene Keady was coaching and I’ve got to say that if they keep playing like they did today, he doesn’t have anything to worry about because they are already there.