© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: (11) Purdue 78 - Loyola (Chicago) 46
Tonight’s game against Loyola followed a somewhat familiar script as Purdue trailed early (they were behind 4-2 after about two minutes), but then absolutely buried their opponent with a combination of smothering defense and some nifty execution at the offensive end. To show how completely Purdue dominated the first half, please note that the halftime score was 40-14 in favor of Purdue and Loyola had more turnovers (15) than points. The second half was more competitive, but once again it appeared that Purdue let up with a commanding lead and the final score (78-46) could easily have been a lot worse.
Nemanja Calasan – Once again, Nemanja played an excellent game in relief of JaJuan Johnson. Tonight he had 11 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots in 21 minutes of play. That means that in the first three games, Nemanja has scored 28 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in 57 minutes of play. This is exactly the kind of production Purdue needs to keep getting from Nemanja if they are going to compete with the better teams on their schedule.
Marcus Green – Marcus was terrific tonight as he recorded the first double-double of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes of play. In addition to his scoring and rebounding, Marcus added two steals and an assist. His improvement from last year is remarkable and he seems to be very comfortable with his role. I think he has embraced the idea that he can make a huge contribution to this team by providing energy and enthusiasm when he comes into the game.
Keaton Grant – After struggling a bit with his 3-point shooting in the first two games, Keaton buried 3 of his 5 attempts from beyond the arc tonight. He finished the game with 11 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 turnovers in 26 minutes of excellent all-around play. It looks to me like Keaton is starting to “find” his legs after the off-season surgery and he definitely looked more comfortable tonight than he has in either of the two previous games.
Chris Kramer – If you look at Chris Kramer’s stat line in tonight’s game, you see that he didn’t score and he had only 1 rebound, but he found other ways to contribute with 3 assists and 3 steals to go along with 2 turnovers. However, you also need to consider the following stat line – 3 points (including 0 for 6 from the field) to go along with 4 rebounds and 4 turnovers. That’s the stat line for Loyola’s leading scorer J.R. Blunt. Mr. Blunt had an opportunity to become closely acquainted with Mr. Kramer tonight and my guess is it’s a meeting he won’t want to re-live any time soon.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie didn’t have one of his better games tonight as he got into early foul trouble and then picked up a couple more in the 2nd half. As a result, Robbie did not have a single rebound for the first time in his Purdue career. He did manage a late scoring flurry once the game was decided to finish with 13 points and he added 4 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in just 19 minutes of action. Sooner or later Robbie needs to figure out a way to keep from picking up cheap fouls because he can’t help Purdue if he’s sitting on the bench.
JaJuan Johnson – JaJuan continues to impress with his improvement from a year ago. Tonight he scored 8 points, and added only 2 rebounds in 19 minutes of play, but he also had 3 blocks and a steal in a fine all-around performance. The scary thing about JaJuan is that he is still just scratching the surface in terms of the kind of player he can become. His continued improvement is a big key for any success Purdue might have this year.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun had another in a seemingly endless string of excellent games tonight with a team high 14 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, 3 steals and 3 turnovers in 26 minutes of play. E’Twaun is so smooth and so good at getting to the basket its fun to watch him play.
Lewis Jackson – Leis didn’t play quite as much tonight as he has in the first two games (only 16 minutes) and he struggled with his shot (he was 0 of 4 from the field) but his floor game was once again outstanding and he finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover. He would have had 4 assists, but Hummel missed an easy lay-up after an unbelievable left handed pass from Lewis on a fast break. It was a pass that not very many players would even attempt, much less complete, but Lewis made it look easy.
Ryne Smith – Ryne got some extended action tonight (17 minutes) and he’s starting to look more and more comfortable on the floor. His only basket came after a nice ball fake and pull-up jumper and I think Ryne is going to be able to give Purdue some help this year. I don’t think he’ll play a lot, but he’s definitely got some potential.
After tonight's game, Purdue has now forced three consecutive opponents into 20 or more turnovers and they hold an astounding turnover margin of +38 (64 to 26) over their opponents. Interestingly enough, last year’s Purdue team enjoyed an even wider disparity in turnovers after three games (72 to 29) so perhaps it’s a little early to start drawing any conclusions. Still, I’ll be surprised if this year’s team doesn’t end up the season with a bigger margin than last year’s team (they were +157 in 34 games last year).