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BOX SCORE: Iowa 50, Purdue 51
As I noted in my last write-up, tonight’s game against Iowa had all the earmarks of a game that Purdue might struggle to win. Purdue was coming off an emotional last second win over a ranked opponent and they had been able to beat Iowa in Iowa City exactly two weeks ago. Over the years, this combination of events has more often than not spelled trouble for even the best Purdue teams. Unfortunately, what looked like a tough game proved to be exactly that as Purdue struggled the entire way and was only able to pull out the win when Keaton Grant hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining in the game to give Purdue a 51-50 win.
Looking at the stats, one might wonder how Purdue managed to win the game. Iowa came into the game 10th in the Big 10 in FG % (41.9%) and 8th in the Big 10 in 3-point shooting percentage (34.1%). When Purdue played them in Iowa City, their two leading scorers (Tony Freeman and Justin Johnson) were a combined 10 of 26 from the field for 26 points and I thought Purdue did a pretty good job of making them take tough shots. Tonight, Iowa shot 52.8% from the field including 43.8% from beyond the arc and Freeman and Johnson combined to go 10 for 21 from the field for 27 points. Once again, I thought Purdue did a pretty good job of making them take tough shots, but tonight some of them went in. In the final eTECHysis, Purdue won tonight’s game with their defensive effort. Despite shooting a high percentage, Iowa only managed to shoot the ball 36 times which is the lowest number of shots attempted for any Purdue opponent this year. The reason why they only got 36 shots is because Purdue’s defense forced 22 turnovers and almost every one of them was a direct result of Purdue’s defensive pressure. Purdue only turned the ball over 12 times (only 3 times in the 2nd half) and those extra 10 possessions for Purdue were too much for Iowa to overcome.
Purdue actually got off to a decent start in tonight’s game led 5-0 less than 2 minutes into the game following a nice 3-pointer by Nemanja Calasan and a lay-up by Keaton Grant off a wonderful feed from Chris Kramer. Sadly, it took Purdue almost exactly 4 more minutes to score again and Purdue only led 7-4 with almost 6 minutes already played. JaJuan Johnson then scored on a beautiful feed from Tarrance Crump and Purdue led once again by 5 (9-4) with just over 13 minutes left in the half. Iowa then scored 7 straight points over a two minute stretch and when a Media timeout came at about the 11 minute mark; Iowa was on top 11-9. From here, both teams struggled to score for the remainder of the half and the half ended with Purdue clinging to a slim 1 point lead (25-24). I think one of the main problems for Purdue in the first half was that foul trouble sent Robbie Hummel to the bench early in the half and he ended up playing only 6 minutes and did not score.
When Iowa started the 2nd half with a Tony Freeman desperation 3-pointer with 1 second left on the shot clock, I had the feeling that this might be one of those nights when Purdue would not be able to put Iowa away. E’Twaun Moore tied the game at 27 on Purdue’s next possession, but Iowa took it right back when Cyrus Tate scored his only basket of the game on an offensive rebound on Iowa’s next possession. Both teams missed a couple of chances over the next 3 minutes or so, but then Scott Martin hit a 3-pointer, E’Twaun Moore followed with another 3-pointer after an offensive foul on Tony Freeman on an in-bounds play and then Chris Kramer scored on a dunk after a steal by E’Twaun Moore and all of a sudden Purdue led by 6 (35-29). Tony Freeman then scored for Iowa, but Scott Martin answered with another 3-pointer and it looked like Purdue might take control of the game as they led 38-31 with about 14 minutes remaining in the game. Kurt Looby then scored for Iowa on an offensive rebound and after Robbie Hummel restored Purdue’s 7 point lead, Justin Johnson answered with a 3-pointer (another desperation 3-pointer that just barely beat the shot clock) and Purdue led by 4 (40-36) with almost 13 minutes remaining in the game. Over the next 3 minutes, both teams had several chances to score, but neither team could find the basket. Chris Kramer finally got Purdue going again with a very nice jumper from the key , but Justin Johnson hit another 3-pointer for Iowa and Purdue’s lead was only 3 with about 8 ˝ minutes to go. Iowa would eventually cut the lead to 1 (44-43) with just under 6 minutes remaining and neither team would score again until Robbie Hummel buried a 3-pointer with 3 ˝ minutes to go and Purdue led 47-43. After Iowa’s Jake Kelly missed a jumper, Robbie Hummel was fouled on a drive to the basket. He made only 1 of the 2 free throws and Purdue led 48-43. Seth Gorney then hit about an 18 foot jumper, but E’Twaun Moore got loose on the baseline and his lay-up gave Purdue a 50-45 lead with under 2 minutes remaining. When Iowa couldn’t get the ball inbounds under their own basket and turned it over about 20 seconds later, it looked like Purdue was in control. Purdue ran the shot clock almost all the way down and then Scott Martin missed an off-balance jumper with just under a minute to play. Iowa hurried down the floor and got an easy lay-up with 47 seconds to play and Purdue led 50-47. Purdue then ran the shot clock down once again and E’Twaun Moore air-balled a rushed 3-pointer just as the shot clock was about to go off. Iowa once again rushed down the floor and Jake Kelly drove the baseline and put up a shot that rolled around and out as both Scott Martin and Robbie Hummel attempted to block it. However, Scott Martin was called for a foul on the play and to add insult to injury, Robbie Hummel was called for goal-tending. I’ve watched the replay several times and it was not an easy play to call. In any event, when Kelly made the free throw, the game was tied at 50 with 5 seconds to play. After a couple of time-outs, Purdue in-bounded the ball to Keaton Grant and when he met surprisingly little resistance, he attempted to blow by Tony Freeman for an easy lay-up only to be hacked by Freeman as he went up for the shot with 1.2 seconds remaining. Keaton made the first one and then missed the second one intentionally and the clock ran out.
Tarrance Crump – Tarrance had what I would characterize as a normal game for him. He had a couple of nice baskets and a nice assist, but he also turned the ball over unnecessarily a couple of times (once after he made a nice play to get an offensive rebound only to turn it over when he attempted to take it to the basket when he was surrounded by Iowa players). Still, I thought Tarrance did a good job of putting some pressure on the basketball at the defensive end and I thought his 11 minutes were a net positive for Purdue.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja got off to a good start tonight when he nailed a 3-pointer on Purdue’s 2nd possession, but he had some problems later in the half holding on to the basketball and after playing 11 minutes in the first half, Nemanja only played 4 minutes in the 2nd half. He ended the night scoring 6 points and added 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers in what I thought was only a so-so performance.
Marcus Green – I thought Marcus had a pretty good game tonight. He didn’t score, but he came in and gave Purdue some solid defensive minutes when Robbie Hummel got into foul trouble. He ended up playing 16 minutes and pulled down 3 rebounds and added a steal.
Keaton Grant – It looked like Iowa learned their lesson after Keaton torched them for 22 points in Iowa City because Keaton did not get very many opportunities to shoot the basketball tonight. His 4 shot attempts represent the fewest shots he has attempted in a game since Big 10 play started and Keaton also struggled handling the basketball. He ended the night with 6 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers in 32 minutes of play and I thought it was easily his worst offensive game of the Big 10 season. Having said that, I also thought Keaton did a good job of not forcing shots and I also thought he did a pretty good job defensively.
Chris Kramer – Chris was his usual pesky self on defense tonight and he also made a couple of key baskets for Purdue when they needed them. He ended up with 4 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 3 steals and a single turnover in 30 minutes of play.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie spent all but 6 minutes on the bench in the first half with foul trouble and did not score. In the 2nd half, he played more like he’s been playing lately and he ended up scoring 6 points and added 3 rebounds, 3 assists and no turnovers in 21 minutes of play. His 3-pointer late in the 2nd half that gave Purdue a 4 point lead was a huge shot, but it’s the kind of clutch play I’m coming to expect from this talented freshman.
JaJuan Johnson – JaJuan never seemed to get into the flow of the game tonight, but he did have a basket, an assist, a steal and a turnover in 14 minutes of play. It was JaJuan’s first turnover in 9 games and he has the fewest turnovers of anyone on the team that is playing significant minutes.
Scott Martin – Scott stayed out of foul trouble tonight and as a result, he played 29 minutes. He ended the night as Purdue’s 2nd leading scorer with 11 points and he added 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and 1 turnover. I think a key turning point in the game came early in the 2nd half when Matt Painter put Scott in the game for Nemanja Calasan and went with a line-up of Hummel, Moore, Martin, Grant and Kramer. Scott’s 3-pointer shortly after he entered the game gave Purdue a 1 point lead and Iowa never led again.
E’Twaun Moore – I thought E’Twaun had another good effort tonight. He ended up as Purdue’s leading scorer with 12 points and he also was Purdue’s leading rebounder with 4. In addition, he had 3 assists, 2 steals and no turnovers in 32 minutes of play. E’Twaun now has 53 assists and only 36 turnovers on the season and I think his ball-handling has been a key part of Purdue’s improved play.
Purdue’s next opponent is Illinois in Champagne this coming Saturday and I saw that MSU held them to something like 41 points in East Lansing tonight, so I expect them to be very ready to play on Saturday. Illinois is a team that looks like they should be a pretty good team on paper, but they have really struggled all year to shoot the basketball. They’re last in the Big 10 in 3-point shooting and 10th in the Big 10 in free throw shooting. This is a game that Purdue CAN win, but I think they are going to have to play a lot better than they played tonight. After 9 wins in the last 10 games, Purdue is probably overdue to have a bad game; I just hope it was tonight’s game and not Saturday’s (Grin).