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BOX SCORE:  Purdue 75 - Iowa 53
Today’s game was one of those games that I wasn’t particularly worried about beforehand. Then, when I found out that one of Iowa’s best players (Cyrus Tate) wasn’t going to play, I became even less concerned. Iowa is a young team that has struggled in Conference play, but going into today’s game, they still led the Big 10 in scoring defense at 56.1ppg and they lead the Conference in 3-point shooting percentage at 39.9%. In other words, they aren’t exactly a pushover, but since the game was in Mackey Arena, it was a game Purdue should win unless they don’t do a good job of guarding the 3-point line and they let Iowa hang around.
The game started a little slowly, but Purdue’s defense was superb in the early going and it took Iowa almost 5 minutes before they scored to make it 6-2 in Purdue’s favor. Iowa would then proceed to tie the game at 6-6. 9-9 and again at 11-11 before Purdue started to get things going around the 12 minute mark. Then, Keaton Grant hit a 3-pointer, E’Twaun Moore made a free throw and then Robbie Hummel and Marcus Green followed with jumpers and Purdue led 19-11 at the 8 minute Media timeout. From here, Iowa hung tough and eventually closed the gap to 4 (26-22) before Marcus Green buried a huge 3-pointer at the first half buzzer to give Purdue some momentum and a 29-22 lead going into halftime.
At half-time I was watching the scoreboards and I noticed that Purdue did not have an offensive rebound in the first half and were getting beaten pretty badly on the boards. My guess is that the coaching staff also noticed this statistic and it was a point of emphasis at halftime. The second half stated much the same way the first half ended with both teams trading baskets and neither team able to gain an edge. As a result, Purdue’s 7 point halftime lead was still 7 (35-28) after about 4 minutes had elapsed. Then, all of a sudden, Purdue went on a rampage. First, Keaton Grant buried a 3-pointer. This was followed in rapid succession by 3-pointers from E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel and Lewis Jackson and with just over 14 minutes remaining in the game, Purdue led 47-28 and the rout was on. Purdue would eventually stretch the lead to 30 points (68-38) with a little over 7 minutes remaining before Iowa closed the gap a little bit against Purdue’s reserves and the final score was Purdue 75, Iowa 53. Oh, and Purdue did do a much better job on the boards in the 2nd half and ended up with 4 offensive rebounds in the half and pulled even in total rebounds at 31.
Nemanja Calasan – I thought Nemanja struggled a little bit defensively when he first came into the game, but he got going and ended up having a pretty good day. He finished the game with 10 points, 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 18 minutes of play and a couple of his baskets were on very nice moves in the paint.
Marcus Green – As I noted above, Marcus made perhaps the games most important shot right before the buzzer at the end of the first half. In addition, he played some outstanding defense and ended up having a very productive day. He finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 2 turnovers in 23 minutes and with the exception of one off-balance 3-pointer, I thought he showed good judgment today.
Keaton Grant – Boy, It’s great to see Keaton finally starting to stroke the 3-pointers like he did today. As I’ve said before, I think Keaton is one of the key players on this team and when he gets going from outside, this becomes a very difficult team to defend. Today he scored 12 points (on 4 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc) and added 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 block in 29 excellent minutes of Play. He also was very effective at the defensive end and I thought this might have been the best game Keaton has played all year.
Chris Kramer – Chris had a couple of highlight reel plays today. On one of them, he came out of nowhere to swat away an Iowa shot attempt on a fast break and on the other he scored on a powerful dunk after a steal. I don’t think Chris is anywhere near 100% yet, but he’s playing so hard when he’s in the game that it doesn’t seem to matter. Today he finished with 6 points (he was 4/4 on free throws and is now shooting 76.7% from the free throw line on the year), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 23 minutes of play.
Robbie Hummel – Robbie played in obvious pain today (my sister thought he might be wearing some kind of back brace) and while he was still very effective, it’s obvious that his back is still causing him some problems. He finished the game with 9 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 turnovers in only 18 minutes of play and I think it was a good thing Purdue won so easily that he didn’t have to play major minutes.
JaJuan Johnson – I thought JaJuan was very good at the defensive end of the floor today and not so good at the offensive end of the floor. I think JaJuan tried to force things a little bit today offensively and the result was a couple of off-balance shot attempts that had very little chance of going in. Still, he managed to score 9 points and pull down 4 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks, an assist and a turnover in just 20 minutes of play so it was still a decent game for JaJuan. At the defensive end he was credited with only two blocks, but he altered several other shots and I thought there was a clear difference for Purdue defensively when he was in the game.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun led the way in scoring for Purdue today with 13 points and while it wasn’t one of his real good shooting days (he was 4 of 11 from the field including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc), it was decided improvement over his previous 2 games. One thing I noticed today was that E’Twaun has quietly become a pretty good defensive player. He’s getting his hands on a lot of balls and I think he was in the right place a lot of the time today at the defensive end. He finished the day with 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in 30 minutes of play. I think E’Twaun is really trying hard to just let the game come to him instead of forcing things and I think it started to pay dividends today.
Lewis Jackson – I thought Lewis played pretty well today in bouncing back from his struggles against Northwestern. He ended the day with 3 points, a career high tying 6 assists, 2 turnovers and 3 steals in 23 minutes of play. His defensive pressure on Iowa’s point guard was excellent today and I think Lewis is making good progress in his efforts to become a strong defensive presence for Purdue.
There were a lot of things to like about today’s game. Among them was the fact that Purdue tied a season high in field goal percentage by shooting 49.0% from the field. Of course, when a team shoots 10 of 15 from beyond the 3-point line like Purdue did today, it makes it a little easier to get the overall shooting percentage up (Grin). I also liked the fact that Purdue had 19 assists on their 25 made baskets and that after committing 9 first half turnovers, they only committed 3 in the second half. They also pretty much stymied Iowa’s offense and I suspect that if the game hadn’t gotten out of hand, Iowa would not have cracked the 50 point mark for the game. Still, I don’t think Iowa is going to finish in the upper half of the Big 10 and Purdue’s acid test is coming up in the next couple of weeks when Purdue faces 4 road games at Minnesota, Wisconsin, OSU and Illinois along with a home contest sandwiched in-between with Michigan. I’m pretty sure Minnesota is going to be smarting from their thumping by Northwestern today and I think Purdue will have to play one of their best games of the year to come away from Minneapolis with a win.