© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: (15) Purdue 77, Ohio State 80
Going into tonight’s game with OSU, I thought Purdue had a very good chance to win the game, but I also thought it would be a hard fought battle and that OSU would not give the game to Purdue. OSU is a team that I think has under-achieved all year. They have a roster full of highly recruited players and they also feature one of the Big 10’s best seniors in Jamar Butler. When Purdue played OSU in Mackey, Butler was a thorn in Purdue’s side all night and he finished with 26 points as he hit consistently from the perimeter. To me, the key to beating OSU is to stop Jamar Butler and I thought if Purdue could do that, they would win the game. Unfortunately, it was not to be as Butler scored 23 of his game high 25 points in the 2nd half and the OT to lead OSU to a hard fought 80-77 victory. In the second half and OT, Butler was 5 of 5 from beyond the arc and with Chris Kramer in foul trouble, Purdue just couldn’t stop him when they needed to.
As for the game itself, Purdue looked nervous and tentative to start the game and OSU jumped out to an early 5-0 lead as Purdue missed their first 7 shots from the field. E’Twaun Moore finally got Purdue on the scoreboard with a 3-pointer and then followed with another one after an Othello Hunter dunk to make the score 7-6 in OSU’s favor at the first Media timeout. For the next 12 minutes or so, neither team could get much of anything going offensively and Purdue led 25-22 at the last Media timeout before halftime. OSU then scored 4 straight points to take a 26-25 lead with about 35 seconds to go in the half. Purdue worked the shot clock down to about 6 seconds and then Tarrance Crump drove the lane, got bumped and almost lost the ball before passing to Scott Martin who hit a huge 3-pointer as he was getting fouled. He made the free throw and Purdue went into the locker room with a 29-26 lead at the half.
After a long delay because of a scoreboard malfunction, the 2nd half started with an OSU basket by Evan Turner. Purdue countered with a Nemanja Calasan free throw and a Robbie Hummel 3-pointer to take an early 5 point lead (33-28), but Jamar Butler got free for a 3-pointer and when David Lighty drove the lane for a lay-up after a missed lay-up by E’Twaun Moore, the game was tied at 33. From here, OSU would build a 4 point lead (40-36) after another Butler 3-pointer, but Purdue fought back behind some good play by JaJuan Johnson, Chris Kramer, E’Twaun Moore and Marcus Green to take a 49-45 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining. Scott Martin then scored on a jump shot to give Purdue their largest lead of the night (51-45) with 9 minutes remaining. Neither team could do much over the next several minutes and when Scott Martin hit a jumper with just over 4 minutes remaining, Purdue once again led by 5 (58-53). Scott would hit a 3-pointer from deep in the corner about a minute later and Purdue led by 4 (62-58) with just over 3 minutes remaining. Then Evan Turner made another lay-up and after Marcus Green picked up a charging foul at the other end, Matt Terwilliger buried a 10 foot jumper on the baseline to tie the game at 62 with about 2 minutes left. After another Purdue turnover (E’Twaun Moore lost control of the ball as he was driving the lane), Robbie Hummel drew a charge on Evan Hunter and Purdue had the ball with about a minute remaining. Once again, Purdue turned it over (Hummel made a bad pass to Martin that resulted in Martin stepping out of bounds) and when Keaton Grant fouled Jamar Butler on a drive to the basket, Butler made both free throws to give OSU a 64-62 lead with less than a minute remaining. On Purdue’s next possession, E’Twaun Moore was fouled on a drive to the basket and he calmly dropped in both free throws to tie the game at 64. OSU went for the last shot, but Robbie Hummel came up with a steal just before the horn sounded and the game went into OT.
In the OT, OSU scored first on a free throw by Evan Turner, but Robbie Hummel answered with two free throws of his own and after Jamar Butler and Keaton grant traded 3-pointers, the score was 69-68 in Purdue’s favor. On Purdue’s next two possessions, Scott Martin missed open jumpers in the lane and OSU was able to take a 3 point lead (72-69) on baskets by Butler and Lighty. E’Twaun Moore then hit a 3-pointer for Purdue to tie the score at 72 with 2 minutes to go. Othello Hunter then missed a contested jumper, but Purdue could not corral the rebound and Hummel fouled Hunter on the ensuing put-back attempt. Hunter is a 56% free throw shooter, but he made both of his free throws and Purdue was down 2 (74-72). On Purdue’s next possession, E’Twaun Moore was tied up with about 6 seconds remaining on the shot clock, but fortunately, it was Purdue’s possession. Unfortunately, Purdue couldn’t get the ball inbounds and they were forced to call a timeout. When play resumed, Chris Kramer had trouble once again getting the ball inbounds and OSU was able to tip his pass and intercept it. Once again OSU worked the shot clock and when Evan Turner scored on a baseline move, OSU led by 4 (76-72) with less than 30 seconds left in the game. Robbie Hummel then drained a 3-pointer to make the score 76-75, but Purdue was forced to foul and when Jamar Butler hit both free throws and E’Twaun Moore was unable to connect on a 3-pointer from the top of the key, Evan Turner sealed the win by making two free throws with 10 seconds to go in the game.
Tarrance Crump – I thought Tarrance played one of his better games tonight offensively, but after doing some good defensive work in the first half, I thought he made a couple of mistakes in the 2nd half and Jamar Butler made him pay. Tarrance ended the night with 4 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 turnover in only 12 minutes of play and hopefully he can build on tonight’s performance the rest of the year.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja also did a few good things tonight including nailing a 3-pointer midway through the first half to give Purdue an 18-17 lead. Nemanja ended the night with 7 points and 4 rebounds in 15 minutes of play and while I think Nemanja struggles at times defensively, I do think he’s starting to get some things figured out.
Marcus Green – Marcus hit a huge 3-pointer fairly early in the 2nd half to give Purdue back the lead after OSU had gone ahead and was threatening to take control of the game and I thought it got Purdue out of a funk. Marcus ended the night with 6 points (he made 3 of 4 free throws and all of them were crucial), 3 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 19 minutes of play and it was somewhat unfortunate that his charging foul late in the game somewhat spoiled what was otherwise a pretty good offensive performance.
Keaton Grant – Keaton didn’t seem to have his normal energy and pep tonight and he was somewhat of a “no show” for Purdue. Still, he did hit a huge 3-pointer in the OT right after Butler had hit one for OSU to give them a 2 point lead and he also drilled his only 2 free throws at a crucial stage of the game. He ended the night with 5 points, 2 assists, 2 turnovers and 2 steals in only 27 minutes of play. His playing time was limited because of foul trouble and it looks to me like Keaton’s legs are hurting enough that it is affecting his ability to move laterally.
Chris Kramer – I thought Chris probably played one of his least effective games of the year. I think he did a good job on Butler defensively (most of Butler’s points came when Chris was not guarding him), but he had 4 absolute bricks from 3-point range (he’s now missed his last 19 attempts from 3-point land after stating the year 10 of 25) and his turnover late in the OT on an inbounds pass was a huge mistake. Chris got into foul trouble for the 2nd time in the last 3 games and it’s obvious that Purdue’s defense is not as good when he is not on the floor. Chris ended the night with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 turnovers in 30 minutes of play.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie struggled a little bit in the first half, but he came back strong in the 2nd half and ended up posting a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. In addition, Robbie added 2 assists, 2 steals and 1 turnover in 37 minutes of play. Tonight wasn’t Robbie’s “A” game, but he’s still playing at a high level.
JaJuan Johnson – Once again, JaJuan gave Purdue a big lift off the bench with some timely scoring. JaJuan only played 12 minutes, but he made all of his shots (2 of 2 from the field and all 3 free throws) for 7 points and he added 3 rebounds and a turnover in a very solid performance.
Scott Martin – I thought Scott played perhaps his best basketball of the Big 10 season tonight and he hit several huge baskets for Purdue including the 4 point play at the end of the first half. Scott ended the night with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 1 turnover in 29 minutes of play. Scott has now put together two straight solid performances and it looks to me like Scott is finally getting back to playing the way he was earlier in the year. That is certainly good news for Purdue.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun started out missing his first two shots, but then he drained two straight 3-pointers and I thought he might go on to have a big night like he did against Illinois in Champagne, but it wasn’t to be. Still, E’Twaun led Purdue in scoring with 16 points and I thought he showed a lot of poise when he drained both free throws with 35 seconds left in regulation and Purdue down by 2. E’Twaun ended the night playing 44 minutes and adding 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 turnovers to his 16 points.
Tonight’s game was a very tough loss for Purdue. They had several opportunities to take control of the game in the 2nd half, but were unable to make a key stop or hit a big basket. Still, you have to give OSU credit. Their backs are against the wall and they played like it tonight and I don’t think it was as much a case of Purdue losing the game as it was OSU winning the game. Let’s face it, winning on the road in the Big 10 is a very difficult task even in years when you have a veteran team and if this team can take care of business on Sunday in Ann Arbor, they will finish with a 6-3 record on the road in the Big 10 and that would be an unbelievable accomplishment. To illustrate how tough it is to win Big 10 road games, it’s been 8 years since Purdue had a team go through the Big 10 season with only 3 road losses (The 2000 team was 5-3 on the road) and that team started 4 seniors (Cardinal, Robinson, McQuay and Cornell) and a 4th year junior (Cunningham). Let’s just hope that the players don’t hang their heads after tonight’s game and come back strong on Sunday. Personally, I think the Michigan game is a very important game for Purdue because I don’t think they want to go into the BTT with losses in their last 2 games. The Michigan game probably doesn’t matter from a BTT seeding perspective, but it almost certainly will impact Purdue’s NCAA seeding if they lose.