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BOX SCORE: Purdue 83, Illinois 75
I just got done watching the tape of Saturday’s game with Illinois and while I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to do a full re-cap at this late date, I will try to put together some of my thoughts on the game.
It looked to me like Purdue was tight to start the game and they had some uncharacteristic turnovers early on as Illinois took an 8-2 lead at the first Media timeout. At this juncture, Tarrance Crump, Scott Martin and Marcus Green all entered the game and they all immediately made their presence known. First, Tarrance Crump made a driving lay-up and then Marcus Green buried a 3-pointer from the far side after a nice feed from Scott Martin and then after an Illinois basket, Scott Martin buried a wide-open 3-pointer off a nice assist from Tarrance Crump. At this point, the game was tied 10-10 and I thought it was a critical part of the game for Purdue after their poor start. Illinois would regain the lead two more times (12-10 and 14-12), but after making a free throw to make the score 14-13, Marcus Green then buried another 3-pointer after a nice pass from E’Twaun Moore and Purdue would take a 16-14 lead and would never trail again. Purdue then extended the lead to as many as 10 (31-21) before Illinois cut the gap to 5 (36-31) late in the half. At this point Nemanja Calasan buried a 3-pointer from the wing with about 30 seconds to go in the half and the half ended with Purdue on top 39-31.
The second half started out ominously for Purdue as both E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel picked up their 3rd fouls on successive possessions and both of them were on the bench less than 30 seconds into the half. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to bother Purdue and after Keaton Grant hit two free throws, Scott Martin scored a conventional 3-point play after a beautiful move to the hoop and Purdue was on top 44-33. Purdue would extend the lead to 13 (47-34) before Illinois seemed to catch eTECH and when they cut the lead to 3 (49-46) with about 12 minutes to go in the game, I thought Purdue might be in some trouble. Once again, Purdue maintained their poise and even though Illinois kept the pressure on, Purdue kept the lead and the score was 57-54 with 9 minutes to go after a Trent Meacham 3-pointer that had the crowd in a frenzy. At this point, E’Twaun Moore just took over the game for Purdue. He had already scored Purdue’s last 6 points on a variety of moves in the lane and after Meacham’s 3-pointer, he answered with a step-back 3-pointer of his own from NBA range and I think this shot was a back-breaker for Illinois. Marcus Green would make 2 free throws and then E’Twaun scored 7 straight points (2 baskets and a 3-pointer) and Purdue’s lead was back up to 10 (69-59) with just over 5 minutes remaining. To summarize, that means E’Twaun made 7 straight shots (5 baskets and 2 three-pointers) in about 6 minutes. Purdue would eventually lead by as many as 12 (73-61) before a few more turnovers in the closing minutes allowed Illinois to get as close as 7 (80-73), but it was a case of too little, too late for Illinois and Purdue won 83-75.
Tarrance Crump – Tarrance had by far his best game since the Big 10 season started. He finally looked like the point guard everyone thought he might be when Purdue recruited him and his energy and quickness on both offense and defense were extremely important for Purdue in this game. Tarrance ended the game with 11 points, 1 assist, 2 steals and zero turnovers in 18 very effective minutes. To see how well Tarrance played, you only need to note that in his 8 previous Big 10 games, Tarrance had scored a grand total of 11 points in 104 minutes and taken only 1 free throw. Today he was 5 of 6 from the free throw line as he continually found openings to the basket and exploited them.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja got into early foul trouble and ended up fouling out. However, he had 2 huge 3-pointers in the first half and I think his presence on the floor helped pull Shaun Pruitt away from the basket and allowed Purdue to win the rebounding battle 29-25. Nemanja ended the day with 6 points, 2 rebounds and a turnover in 19 minutes of play.
Marcus Green – As noted earlier, Marcus had a major positive impact on the game today. He was active offensively and I thought he was effective defensively. His offensive rebound and tip-in with about 4 minutes remaining in the game gave Purdue a 12 point lead and effectively ended any realistic hope Illinois had of making a comeback. Marcus ended the game with 15 points (on only 5 shots from the field), 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 turnovers in 23 minutes of play. I think it’s worth noting that since Big 10 play began, Marcus is 10 of 20 from 3-point range after going just 2 for 18 in the pre-Big 10 portion of the schedule and having everyone (including me) cringing when he shot one. I think Marcus is one of the main reasons why Purdue is surprising just about everyone.
Keaton Grant – When Purdue played Illinois in Mackey, Keaton scored 22 points on 5 of 10 shooting from the field including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc. In this game, he scored only 8 points on 1 of 9 shooting from the field including 0 for 3 from beyond the arc. I think Keaton got everyone’s attention with his back-to-back 22 point games and it appears to me that he’s drawing much more defensive pressure than he was earlier in the season. To his credit, I don’t think Keaton is forcing shots and he continues to be almost automatic from the free throw line (he was 6 of 6 in this game). Keaton ended the day with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 turnovers to go with his 8 points and his 33 minutes tied Chris Kramer for the most on the team.
Chris Kramer – Chris had another quiet offensive day today, but he absolutely HOUNDED Trent Meacham all over the floor and while Meacham had 14 points, several of those came when Chris was not in the game and I think it’s fair to say that Meacham didn’t really hurt Purdue in this game (he was 2 of 9 on 3-pointers). There was one sequence late in the first half when Chris had steals on back-to-back Illinois possessions that led to layups be E’Twaun Moore and Tarrance Crump and help give Purdue an 8 point half-time lead. Chris ended the day with 2 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 steals and 3 turnovers in 33 minutes of play.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie got into foul trouble early in the 2nd half and ended up playing only 17 minutes. In those minutes, he managed 4 points, 2 assists and 2 turnovers in what was probably his least productive game of the year. Still, he’s been playing so well that an off night was probably overdue and the good thing is that Purdue was able to win this game relatively easily despite his struggles. I also absolutely loved it when Robbie hit both technical foul shots (Bruce Weber got T’d up after going ballistic on a traveling call) late in the first half with Bruce Weber standing on the side line glaring daggers at him.
JaJuan Johnson – JaJuan had a few struggles in this game trying to guard Shaun Pruitt, but he battled and did take the ball strong to the basket when he got an opportunity as evidenced by the fact that he shot a season high 7 free throws (making 5). He ended the day with 7 points, 1 rebound and 2 turnovers in 17 minutes of play.
Scott Martin – Scott continues to have trouble staying in the game due to fouls. He fouled out again today and played only 15 minutes. I keep thinking that Scott will get this fouling problem figured out sooner or later, and when he does I think he’ll be an effective defender. Unfortunately, it appears that the figuring out process may take longer than I hoped (Grin). In this game, Scott had 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 turnover in those 15 minutes. I also thought Scott’s 3-point play early in the 2nd half helped Purdue get off to a good start in the half and that was a very important part of the game for Purdue.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun has quietly been learning how to score against Big 10 defenses and today he just exploded. The most impressive thing about this explosion was that E’Twaun scored in just about every way imaginable. He drove to the basket, he hit runners in the lane, he hit pull up jumpers, he knocked down 3-pointers and he made his free throws. It was an amazing performance from a player who just keeps getting better and better. He ended the day with a career high 24 points (10 of 12 from the field including 2 of 4 from beyond the arc) and added 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in only 25 minutes of play.
Now, it’s back to Mackey Arena for a game against the Penn State Nittany Lions who are coming off a very impressive win over MSU on Saturday evening. When Purdue played Penn State earlier, they held Penn State to 38.5% shooting, and dominated the game for an easy 64-42 win. My guess is that Penn State will come into Mackey Arena looking for some pay-back and I hope Purdue’s players don’t think that this is going to be an “easy” game. At 8-1 in the Big 10, Purdue is no longer the hunter, they are the hunted and I think they can expect their opponents to be very eTECHd up to play them. Sure, this is a game that Purdue should win, but I’ve seen good Purdue teams have trouble with teams like Penn State in the past and I don’t think a win can be taken for granted. I think if I were Matt Painter, I’d haul out the Wofford tape and have the players watch it.