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BOX SCORE: (10) Purdue 70 - IPFW 55
As I was driving home from the game tonight, I was thinking about the game and trying to come up with a one word description that described Purdue’s performance. Several words came to mind including efficient, businesslike and machinelike, but the one that stuck with me was dominating. This description was confirmed when I looked at the box score and saw that Purdue out-rebounded IPFW 36-29, had seven blocked shots to IPFW’s none, won the turnover battle seven to 15 and had nine steals to IPFW’s three. In fact, the only thing that kept the final score (a 70-55 win for Purdue) on the respectable side was that IPFW shot 9 of 19 from beyond the arc and that excellent long range shooting performance was the best anyone has done against Purdue all year. Part of the reason for that is that on at least two or three occasions, an IPFW player would find himself wide open after a scramble for a loose ball ended up with the ball bouncing just right for IPFW and another is that the four substitutes IPFW used in the game combined to go 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. My guess is that they all don’t shoot that well normally or they wouldn’t be bench players (Grin).
The game began with a couple of missed shots by Purdue on their first possession followed by a long 3-pointer from Nick Daniels of IPFW and the score was 3-0 in IPFW’s favor. Lewis Jackson then got Purdue on the board with a super cross-over dribble penetration move for an easy lay-up and the score was 3-2. From here, Purdue jumped out to a 12-5 lead after about five minutes and I thought a rout was on. Unfortunately, IPFW started raining in 3-pointers (they hit three straight) and after about nine minutes of play, Purdue trailed 14-12. Lewis Jackson then stepped up and made a 3-pointer and while IPFW did manage to tie the game at 17 later in the half, Purdue finished the half on a 19-5 run and the score at half-time was 36-22. The half ended after Matt Painter called timeout with less than two seconds left on the clock and JaJuan Johnson took a floor length pass from Chris Kramer for an easy lay-up at the buzzer.
The second half began with a designed play for Purdue as Lewis Jackson took an alley-oop pass from E’Twaun Moore and laid it in to give Purdue a 16 point lead. It was probably the first time I’ve ever seen an alley-oop play to a 5’9” player. IPFW then scored the next five points to cut the lead to 11, but Keaton Grant stepped up and hit his only shot of the night (a 3-pointer from the corner) and Purdue led 41-27 after about two minutes of play. Purdue would go on to lead by 18 (47-29) after about 4 minutes, but IPFW kept hanging in there and about midway through the half, Purdue’s lead was back down to 12 (51-39). Purdue then stepped on the gas one more time and went on a 14-2 run capped by a steal and dunk from Marcus Green to take a 65-41 lead with just over four minutes remaining in the game. From here, Matt Painter basically cleared his bench and the final score was a deceivingly close 70-55. Perhaps the low point of the night for Purdue came in the last minute when Chris Reid stepped to the free-throw line and air-balled both of his attempts. Hopefully Chris will have a lot of time between now and Sunday to work on his free-throw technique (Grin).
Nemanja Calasan – Apparently Nemanja was having some soreness in his knee and he only played 3 minutes tonight. All of those minutes were in the first half and he spent the entire second half on the bench with a tee-shirt over his jersey. Hopefully he can get treatment over the next few days and will be able to play this Sunday against Valparaiso.
Marcus Green – I thought Marcus had an outstanding game tonight. He made a couple of excellent pull-up jumpers from 15 feet or more and he was very active on both ends of the floor. He ended the night with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals in 25 minutes of play and he continued his excellent free throw shooting by making all 4 of his free throws. Marcus is now shooting 80.6% from the free throw line (25 of 31) this year after going 77 for 131 (58.8%) during his first 3 years at Purdue. I think this dramatic improvement is the result of a lot of hard work by Marcus over the summer and it’s great to see him playing so well.
Keaton Grant – I didn’t think Keaton shot the ball very well tonight (he was 1 of 6 and all 6 of his shots were 3-pointers), but he was active defensively and hopefully his shot will come around. It sure looks to me like Keaton is having trouble getting his legs into the shot and several of his attempts tonight were short. He finished the night with 3 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 steals and 2 turnovers in 28 minutes of play.
Chris Kramer – Chris started the game tonight, but appeared to re-injure his foot late in the first half and he spent the entire second half on the bench. Hi foot was bothering him enough that he did not even participate in the lay-up drills right before the 2nd half started. To be honest, I was surprised he even played at all tonight and hopefully a few days of rest will be what he needs. He didn’t score in his 11 minutes of play, but he did have an assist, a block, a steal and a turnover.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie had a rare off night tonight. He had some good shots, but they just weren’t falling and for the first time all year he did not make a 3-pointer (he was 0 for 3 from beyond the arc). He even missed his only free throw attempt of the night (he’d made 32 of 34 coming into the game), so you know it was just one of those nights. He ended up scoring just 6 points (breaking a string of 10 straight double figure scoring games) and added 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 2 steals in 31 minutes of play. The impressive thing about Robbie to me is that even though his shot wasn’t falling, he didn’t force things in an attempt to hit his average. I think the only thing he cares about is helping the team win and it doesn’t matter to him at all how many points he gets.
JaJuan Johnson – JaJuan dominated the game inside tonight and IPFW really had no answer for him. He ended the night with a career high 21 points and a career high 9 rebounds (4 of them offensive rebounds) to go along with an assist (on a nice pass to Hummel), 3 blocks and 3 turnovers in a career high 30 minutes of play. As has been the case in a lot of games this year, JaJuan showed a pretty complete arsenal of offensive moves as he scored on dunks, put-backs, jumpers and baby-hooks. I continue to think that JaJuan is improving with each and every game and games like this one just have to help his confidence.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun continued to struggle shooting the ball from outside (he was 1 of 5 from beyond the arc), but the rest of his game was pretty good tonight. He ended up with 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal in 35 minutes of play and the best part of his game was that he didn’t commit any turnovers. If I was Matt Painter, I’d dig up some old tapes from the 1988 season and have E’Twaun spend a couple of hours watching Troy Lewis move without the basketball because I think E’Twaun could learn a thing or two from Troy about how to get open. E’Twaun is already a good scorer, but I think he’d be an even better one if he could ever learn to make better use of his teammates to get open instead of relying on taking people off the dribble.
Lewis Jackson – I thought Lewis was outstanding tonight. He applied constant pressure for the full length of the court to whoever he was guarding and he was very efficient at the offensive end. As a result, he ended the night with 9 points (on only 4 shots) and he added 3 rebounds and 4 assists with zero turnovers in 27 minutes of play. Like JaJuan, I think Lewis improves a little bit with each and every game and I’m anxious to see how he does when he starts going up against Big 10 quality players.
Purdue now faces two games in a two day period (Valparaiso on Sunday afternoon and Illinois on Tuesday night) after taking a couple of days off for Christmas. Fortunately, both games are at home and hopefully the time off will help heal some of the injuries that are starting to pile up. I think this team has a chance to be pretty darn good by the time March rolls around, but for that to happen; all 8 of the players in the current rotation have to be reasonably healthy. I think both Ryne Smith and Bobby Riddell can give Purdue a few solid minutes off the bench in a pinch, but there is no question that Purdue needs guys like Chris Kramer and Nemanja Calasan to be at full strength if they are going to make any noise in March.