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BOX SCORE: (9) Purdue 71 - Boston College 64
This was a somewhat strange game in that I thought Purdue played some stretches of very good basketball, but they also had stretches where they couldn’t seem to do anything right. Fortunately, the good stretches lasted longer than the bad ones and Purdue struggled, but still won 71-64. Both teams struggled a little bit in the early going and the game was tied at 14 with about 11 minutes to go in the first half. E’Twaun Moore then scored seven straight points for Purdue to spark them to a 21-16 lead with just over eight minutes to go in the half. Purdue then went cold from the field and Boston College ran off 10 straight points to take a 26-21 lead at the last media timeout. Purdue then went on a 13-4 run to close the half and the score was 34-30 at the break.
Purdue’s last four minute scoring spurt to end the first half carried over during the first 13 plus minutes of the second half as Purdue out-scored Boston College 28-15 to take a commanding 62-45 lead. During this stretch, I thought Purdue played some of the best offensive basketball they have played all year and their defense really had Boston College baffled. Then, for whatever reason, Purdue seemed to stop moving on offense and as a result, they only made one more basket the rest of the way (a dunk by JaJuan off a beautiful pass from E’Twaun) as Boston College kept chipping away at the lead. Boston College got as close as 6 (64-58) with a little less than a minute to play, but Purdue was able to hold on by making enough free throws down the stretch so the lead never went lower than six points.
Once again, Purdue’s recipe for success included a healthy edge in the turnover department (Purdue had nine, Boston College had 16), a stifling defense (Boston College shot just 38.6% from the field including just 4 of 19 from beyond the arc) and a rebounding deficit (Boston College had 39 rebounds, Purdue had 34). The strange thing about the game to me was that Purdue was so dominant in the stretch of play that started at about the four-minute mark of the first half and ended at about the 6 ˝ minute mark of the 2nd half (during that stretch, Purdue out-scored Boston College 41-19) and yet Boston College basically dominated the remaining 22 or so minutes (out-scoring Purdue 45-30). I guess the encouraging thing is that Purdue played so well for an extended period of time against a fairly good opponent.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja didn’t play quite as much tonight as he has been playing (only 11 minutes), but I thought he did a pretty good job while he was in there. He finished the night with 5 points, 3 rebounds (2 of them offensive), 1 block and 2 turnovers and one of the things I liked was that when he first entered the game, he quickly made a lay-up off a nice feed from Lewis Jackson.
Marcus Green – Like Nemanja, Marcus saw his playing time drop a little bit from the earlier games (he only played 13 minutes), but just like Nemanja, Marcus found ways to make positive contributions while he was in there. He finished the night with 4 points and only 1 rebound, but the rebound was a key offensive rebound midway through the 2nd half that he immediately converted into a basket to give Purdue a 17 point (60-43) lead. He also drew an offensive foul by taking a charge.
Keaton Grant – I thought Keaton played a great game tonight. He had the primary responsibility for guarding Boston College’s best player (Tyrese Rice) and his block of Rice’s first 3-point attempt of the game set the tone for the rest of the game. Rice ended up scoring 17 points, but he only made 4 of 12 shots from the field and he had 4 turnovers as Keaton (with a lot of help) never let him get into a rhythm. On the offensive end, Keaton ended with 11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and only 1 turnover in 34 minutes of play. Keaton also got to the free throw line tonight (he made all 3 of his attempts) and it was nice to see him take it to the basket a couple of times.
Chris Kramer – I didn’t think Chris had as big a defensive impact on this game as he’s had on some others, but his clutch free throw shooting down the stretch was a huge plus for Purdue. He ended the night with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 34 minutes of play. The first two of his 4 straight free throws in the last minute came after Boston College had cut Purdue’s lead to 6 and his 2nd two basically iced the game after E’Twaun had just missed a pair that would have iced it as well.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie just continues to make plays and hit shots at crucial times in the game. Tonight, he made a huge 3-pointer late in the first half that seemed to kick-start Purdue’s offense and he took a charge late in the game to help keep Boston College from extending a run. He finished the night with 10 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 33 minutes of play. He also avoided any foul trouble for the 2nd straight game.
JaJuan Johnson – JaJuan had his best rebounding effort of the year tonight with 6 and he was the recipient of several nice passes from E’Twaun that led to some easy dunks and lay-ups. He finished the night with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 27 solid minutes of play. He was also in position to make a couple of nice put-backs late in the first half, but he wasn’t able to complete the play (it looked to me like he got fouled with no call on one of them). Still, JaJuan is very much a work in progress and he’s made huge improvements in his game during the last 12 months.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun continues to make it look easy. Tonight he had 19 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 3 turnovers in 38 minutes of play. It was an impressive performance from a player who just seems to keep getting better and better.
Lewis Jackson – Lewis had a rough start in tonight’s game trying to guard Tyrese Rice. I think he had 3 fouls in the first half and his first shot attempt was knocked back in his face. To his credit, he came back in the 2nd half and played much better and he finished the game with 1 point (the front end of a 1-1 late in the game with Boston College making a run), 2 assists, 1 steal and zero turnovers in 10 minutes of play. It was Lewis’s first taste of playing on the road and I liked the way he didn’t let the bad start bother him.
Next up is Oklahoma and from what I saw of them tonight, Purdue is going to have their hands full with Blake Griffin. He’s a real load down low and it will be a stiff challenge for both JaJuan and Nemanja to play him without getting into foul trouble. Griffin isn’t their only good player either and I think this game will be a good indicator of just how realistic Purdue’s chances of winning a Big 10 Title might be. So far, I like what I’ve seen from this Purdue team, but I think these next two games will bring much more clarity to the picture than what we have right now.