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BOX SCORE: (10) Purdue 59 - Valparaiso 45
As the final score indicates, this was an ugly, ugly game. The two teams combined to miss 65 of 100 shots and 14 of 32 free throws in what might otherwise have been mistaken for a bricklayer’s convention instead of a college basketball game. For some reason, Purdue seemed totally out of sync on the offensive end and if Valparaiso had been any good at all, this game could easily have gotten away from Purdue. Hopefully the players were simply looking ahead to Tuesday night’s match-up with Illinois, but this was easily Purdue’s worst outing of the season. Prior to today, Purdue’s worst shooting night of the year was against Duke when they made 37.3% of their shots. Today they made just 20 of 55 shots (36.4%) as they seemed to be content to jack up 3-pointers almost every time down the floor (30 of their 55 shots were 3-pointers). Fortunately, Matt Painter finally got tired of watching his team go through the motions and he inserted Bobby Riddell into the line-up midway through the 1st half. Bobby proceeded to hit two huge 3-pointers in addition to some excellent defense on Valparaiso’s best player (Jake Diebler). I personally thought Bobby’s energy and hustle was the spark that finally got Purdue going (the score was 9-7 in Valparaiso’s favor when Bobby entered the game).
It’s hard to adequately describe just how bad the two teams played in the first ten to fifteen minutes of the first half. By my count, Purdue missed 8 of their first 9 shots before Ryne Smith hit an NBA range 3-pointer to make the score 6-5 in Valparaiso’s favor with just over 5 minutes gone in the half. Over the next 10 minutes, there wasn’t much improvement from either team and the score was tied at 18 with about 5 minutes to play in the first half. Over the next 5 minutes, Purdue would out-score Valparaiso 9-7 to take a 27-25 lead and 6 of those points were scored by Bobby Riddell on back-to-back 3-pointers.
Purdue got off to a good start in the second half on a 3-pointer by Keaton Grant and after another 3-pointer from E’Twaun Moore, Purdue led 33-27 with just over 2 minutes gone in the half. Valparaiso then scored to cut the lead to 4 (33-29) before Bobby Riddell once again buried another 3-pointer to give Purdue its largest lead of the game (36-29). From there, Purdue would build the lead to 10 (41-31) before Valparaiso countered with 4 straight points to make the score 41-35 with about 13 minutes left in the game. On Purdue’s next possession, Bobby Riddell managed to come up with offensive rebounds on missed 3-pointers from Moore and Hummel and when Robbie Hummel hit his only 3-pointer of the night (he was an uncharacteristic 1 of 7 from 3-point range for the game), Purdue led by 9 at 44-35. From here, Valparaiso never really challenged again and Purdue slowly pulled away for a 59-45 victory.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja was basically a non-factor in this game and he only played 9 minutes. My guess is that he’s still suffering the after-effects of his injury and he doesn’t appear to have his normal energy and enthusiasm. He ended the night with 1 point (he missed both his shots from the field), 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 turnover in what was the 3rd time in the last 4 games he hasn’t done much. Interestingly enough, the only time in the last 4 games where he played fairly well was against Davidson, so go figure.
Marcus Green – Marcus was just plain horrible today. He was scoreless, and had only 1 rebound and 1 turnover in 12 minutes of play and it was easily his worst outing of the year. Hopefully he’ll bounce back against Illinois because Purdue will need him to play a lot better than he did today if they are going to beat the Illini.
Bobby Riddell – Seldom has the shortest player on the floor had such a huge impact on a basketball game. Bobby was not only a spark at the offensive end, he also worked tirelessly at the defensive end chasing Jake Diebler all over the floor and not giving him many openings. He finished the day with 9 huge points (on 3 of 4 shooting from 3-point range), 3 rebounds (2 of them offensive), 2 assists and a steal in a career high 21 minutes of play. I think he was the best player on the floor today and if it hadn’t been for his hustle and enthusiasm, Purdue might easily have lost this game.
Keaton Grant – Keaton started the game today in place of Chris Kramer and I thought he played OK, but not like he is capable of playing. He finished the night with only 8 points and he missed 5 of his 7 three-point attempts and both of his free throws. He did add 4 assists, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in 34 minutes of play, but Keaton is not playing particularly well right now and one wonders if he is ever going to snap out of it, or if last year’s performance was somewhat of a fluke.
Chris Kramer – Chris did not play in the game although he was in uniform. My guess is that if it had been a Big 10 game, Chris would have given it a go, but since it wasn’t, he decided not to give his foot another couple of days of rest.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie had a very poor shooting game today (he was 4 of 14 from the field including just 1 of 7 from 3-point range) and for the first time I can ever remember, he did not have a single assist, steal, block or turnover. Robbie did have a game high eleven rebounds and he took at least 3 charges, but in his last two games, Robbie has missed 17 of 24 shots from the field and he is only 1 of 10 from 3-point range. I would submit that Purdue will have very little chance of beating Big 10 caliber teams unless Robbie regains his shot. It’s not like he’s taking bad shots, he’s just missing open looks that he normally makes.
JaJuan Johnson – JaJuan scored 10 points today and this marks the 7th straight game that JaJuan has reached double figures. He also added 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 1 assist and 1 turnover in 27 minutes of play. Valparaiso spent most of the game in a zone defense and JaJuan seemed to have trouble getting open and when he did he missed a couple of easy shots that he normally would make.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun got off to a slow start in today’s game (I think he missed his first 3 shots), but once he got going, he was his usual efficient self. He ended the night with a game-high 14 points on 4 of 11 shooting from the field (including 4 of 9 from 3-point range) and he added 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 11 block, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in 33 minutes of play. E’Twaun has been struggling with his shot this year and today was the first day in some time that I thought he looked comfortable shooting the basketball. It would be nice if this was the start of something big for E’Twaun.
Lewis Jackson – I thought Lewis played a decent game and he looked very good when he stepped up and buried a 3-pointer midway through the 2nd half to give Purdue an 11 point lead. He finished the night with 5 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in just 24 minutes of play. He also missed both of his free throws and I can’t figure out why he is having so much trouble at the free throw line (he’s now shooting 45% from the free throw line for the year) because he appears to have a nice stroke.
Ryne Smith – Ryne got into the game fairly early in the first half and made a 3-pointer shortly after entering the game. He also drew a charging call and added a steal in just 5 minutes of action. I think he probably would have played more than he did if Bobby Riddell hadn’t played so well.
Purdue now enters Big 10 play with an 11-2 record and with high expectations for a successful Big 10 season. Unfortunately, I don’t think they are going into conference play on a high note after today’s lackluster effort. I also don’t think it’s any coincidence that Purdue played poorly today in a game that Chris Kramer missed due to injury. I think there are a lot of people who pooh-pooh the idea that some players bring more to their teams than can be measured by how many points that player scores or how many rebounds he has, but today’s game offers ample evidence that a player like Chris Kramer affects the game in ways that can’t be measured. I just hope his foot doesn’t keep him from playing Tuesday, because I think Purdue will really need him against Illinois. Illinois has two big-time 3-point shooters in McCamey and Meacham and I think Purdue will need Chris to shadow one of them at the defensive end and help limit their opportunities if they hope to win the game. I managed to watch a part of the Illinois game today and I didn’t think they played particularly well which always worries me (Grin). Of course, Purdue played lousy today as well, so perhaps both teams were saving their best efforts for Tuesday night. In any case, this will be a hard fought game and it’s a game I think Purdue must win if they are going to compete for a Big 10 Championship.