© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: (10) Purdue 82 - (11) Oklahoma 87 OT
There is no question that this was a very tough loss for Purdue. Purdue had numerous chances to put this game in the win column and was unable to make the plays they needed to make when it counted. On top of that, they had several officiating calls (or non-calls) that did not go their way, but in the end analysis they have nobody to blame but themselves for the defeat. Need evidence? How about the fact that Purdue had 18 turnovers (nearly double their season average with many of them unforced). How about the fact that Purdue had only 2 steals the entire game versus the 11 steals Oklahoma recorded. How about the fact that Purdue committed 28 personal fouls to only 15 for Oklahoma. How about the fact that Purdue let Oklahoma have 15 offensive rebounds (to only 8 for Purdue). How about the fact that Purdue scored only 5 points in the last 5 minutes of the 2nd half (blowing a 7 point lead with 5 1/2 minutes to go). Given all of that, the only real surprising thing about this game was that Purdue not only forced the game into overtime, they had a great chance to win it in regulation, only to be denied when the zebras swallowed their whistles and didn’t call what appeared to be an obvious foul as E’Twaun Moore drove the lane.
On the positive side, I think there are a number of things Purdue can take away from this game.
(1) Nemanja Calasan (20 points, 8 rebounds) played a wonderful game in relief of JaJuan Johnson. One of the big concerns about this Purdue team is the lack of quality front-court depth and Nemanja’s performance today is a positive sign that he can help fill that gap.
(2) Lewis Jackson’s performance today should bolster his confidence. He showed that he can not only distribute the basketball, he can also score and I think this game will serve as a springboard for Lewis to be an even bigger contributor than he has been to date.
(3) If Purdue can play this poorly (18 turnovers and 28 personal fouls are both way too many) and still stay with a legitimate top 20 team (Oklahoma is a pretty darn good team), then I think they have a chance to be pretty good. I’ll be surprised if at the end of the season the 18 turnovers aren’t pretty close to a season high (Purdue had only 1 game all of last year where they had more than 18 turnovers and that was against Clemson in the 4th game of the year).
I also think this game showed just how valuable Robbie Hummel is to this team. He only played 24 (out of a possible 45) minutes before fouling out and I think there is simply no way Purdue can beat good teams unless he finds a way to play without fouling. When he’s not in the game, Purdue’s rebounding suffers and the offense doesn’t seem to have the kind of movement and spacing that allows other players to get good shots. I keep thinking that Robbie is going to get more respect from the officials, but for some reason he seems to pick up a lot of “ticky-tack” fouls that many players of his caliber seem to get away with.
Hopefully, the players can bounce back from this loss and get ready to play Duke on Tuesday night. Duke should come into the game ranked in the top 3 or 4 in the country and Purdue is going to have to play a lot better than they did tonight if they hope to come away with a win. I think Purdue can beat Duke, but they must take better care of the basketball than they did against Oklahoma and they can’t let Duke spend the whole night at the foul line like they did with Oklahoma. It really staggers the imagination to think that Oklahoma shot 46 free throws (to Purdue’s 5) and a repeat of those kinds of numbers would spell defeat for Purdue against just about anyone they play …. Let alone a team as good as Duke.