© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE:  Purdue 49 - Iowa 45
It’s a good thing for Purdue that they don’t grade the games and hand out style points to determine the winner, or today’s game with Iowa would have resulted in both teams going home with nothing to show for their effort. As the final score (Purdue 49 - Iowa 45) indicates, this was an ugly basketball game that went down to the wire and Purdue was very fortunate to escape Iowa City with a hard fought victory. Interestingly enough, there weren’t a lot of turnovers in the game (Purdue had 10 and Iowa had 8), but both teams shot poorly from beyond the arc (Purdue was 3 of 16 and Iowa was 2 of 19) and it seemed like neither team could generate any kind of team oriented offense as the two teams combined for only 15 assists on 37 made baskets.
The game started on a nice note for Purdue as they stopped Iowa on their initial possession and then E’Twaun Moore found JaJuan Johnson open underneath on a pick and roll play for a slam dunk forcing an Iowa timeout with only 40 seconds gone in the half. Iowa quickly answered with 2 baskets from Carmel’s Jake Kelly (who would prove to be thorn in Purdue’s side all day) and when Bobby Riddell scored underneath on a goal tending call against Iowa the game was tied at 4 with about 16 minutes to go in the half. Over the next 6 minutes, the game degenerated into a series of turnovers and n missed shots from both teams and with just under 10 minutes left in the half, the score was tied at 11. Then Purdue finally got things going and rattled off 9 straight points and Iowa was forced to call another time-out with Purdue holding a 20-11 lead with just over 7 minutes remaining in the half. At this point in the game, I really thought Purdue had a chance to blow Iowa out of the gym, but to Iowa’s credit, they battled back and out-scored Purdue 9-5 in the last 7 minutes to make the half-time score Purdue 25, Iowa 20.
Once again, Purdue started the 2nd half with 2 quick baskets sandwiched around an Iowa lay-up by Jarryd Cole (another thorn in Purdue’s side all day) and Todd Lickliter once again called a quick time-out with less than a minute gone in the half. I think it’s the first time I can ever remember a coach calling a time-out so quickly at the start of each half. From here, Iowa slowly began to chip away at Purdue’s 7 point lead and they finally tied the game at 37 on 2 David Palmer free throws with just less than 9 minutes remaining in the game. The game would be tied again at 39 and 41 before Keaton Grant stepped up and hit the biggest shot of the game (a 3-pointer) to give Purdue a 44-41 lead with about 5 minutes to go. Iowa then scored to make it 44-43 and both teams missed a couple of chances after that and Purdue still led by 1 with under 2 minutes to play when JaJuan Johnson buried a jumper from just inside the 3-point line to give Purdue some breathing room. Iowa missed a 3-pointer at the other end and then Robbie Hummel kept alive a missed shot by Chris Kramer by batting the ball out to a waiting Keaton Grant with about 12 seconds to play. Keaton was immediately fouled and made the front end of the 1-1, but missed the 2nd and Iowa had a chance to tie with a 3-pointer. Instead, they elected to have Jake Kelly drive to the basket and when he scored on a lay-up with 5 seconds to go the score was Purdue 47, Iowa 45. Iowa immediately called time-out and then fouled E’Twaun Moore on the in-bounds pass. E’Twaun calmly made both free throws to effectively clinch the game for Purdue and Iowa’s desperation shot at the buzzer was way off target.
Nemanja Calasan – Just 3 days after playing an excellent game against Penn State, Nemanja laid an egg today against Iowa. He missed all 3 shots he tried from the field and I thought he was a real liability at the defensive end of the floor as he had a very hard time containing Jarryd Cole. He did have 3 rebounds in 12 minutes of play, but today was not one of his better efforts.
Marcus Green – Marcus made a very nice looking 3 pointer as part of Purdue’s 9-0 run in the first half, but other than that, he was pretty much a non-factor in today’s game and I’m not sure he even played in the 2nd half. He finished the day with 3 points and 1 rebound in only 8 minutes of play as once again Bobby Riddell seemed to take the majority of the minutes Marcus had been getting.
Bobby Riddell – Bobby was one of the first subs off the bench today and I kept hoping he would be able to recapture the “magic” from Wednesday night, but it was not to be. Bobby did have 2 points and 1 rebound along with a turnover in 10 minutes of play, but it was obvious Iowa had paid attention to the scouting report because he had zero open looks from outside.
Keaton Grant – I didn’t think Keaton played particularly well today, but he was money when Purdue needed him to hit a big shot down the stretch. It just amazes me how many times Keaton has stepped up and hit a big shot for Purdue in the last 2 years and I just wish he wouldn’t wait so long to get going! He finished the day with 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 turnovers in 32 minutes of play. I did think Keaton was pretty solid at the defensive end of the floor.
Chris Kramer – Chris didn’t contribute much offensively today, but he was a big part of the reason Iowa’s Matt Gatens was 2 of 13 from the floor including 0 of 4 from beyond the arc. Chris finished the game with 2 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 31 minutes of play. Chris now has 46 steals on the year and his 185 career steals are only 2 shy of Brain Walker for 2nd place on the all-time list.
Robbie Hummel – It was great to see Robbie back on the floor for today’s game. As I expected, Robbie looked very rusty at the offensive end of the floor and he missed 6 of his 7 shots (including all 5 of his 3-point attempts) and both of his free throws. Still, I think it was important for Robbie to get some playing time today in preparation for the MSU game on Tuesday night. It’s going to take some time for him to get back up to full speed and hopefully today was the first step in that process. Robbie finished the day with just 2 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 blocks in 24 minutes of play. If I’m not mistaken, both b locks came down the stretch as Robbie made a couple of nice defensive plays when Purdue needed them.
JaJuan Johnson – I’m not sure what happened today, but after playing great against Penn State on Wednesday night (14 points and 13 rebounds), JaJuan played 27 minutes today and did not have a rebound. He did score 13 points and added an assist and 3 blocked shots along with 2 turnovers, but he was nowhere near the dominating presence he was earlier in the week. In my opinion, Purdue just has to have him have a good game on the boards against MSU, or Purdue has very little chance of beating them.
E’Twaun Moore – I thought E’Twaun might have played his best game of the year today. It seemed like every time Purdue needed a basket to maintain or recapture the lead, E’Twaun delivered. On top of that, he had a monster game on the boards. He finished the day with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 38 minutes of play and I thought he did an excellent job of not forcing things and taking advantage of his opportunities when they arose.
Lewis Jackson – Lewis had a tough day today. Defensively, he had a tough time staying in front of his man and he also got into some early foul trouble. He finished the day with 4 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 3 turnovers in only 18 minutes of play. On the positive side, both of Lewis’s baskets (a mid range jumper and a nice reverse lay-up after a nifty baseline drive) were excellent plays and I think Lewis is developing into a very nice player for Purdue.
Today’s game marked Coach Painter’s 100th career victory as a head coach and I thought it was particularly fitting that the primary reason Purdue won was because of their defensive effort. Iowa is obviously not a great offensive team even when they have all of their players (they were missing both Jeff Peterson and Cyrus Tate today), but they were still in the game with less than 5 minutes to go and only a superb defensive effort by Purdue down the stretch kept them from pulling off a huge upset. I think Iowa missed 7 of their last 9 shots and almost all of them were off-balance shots near the end of the shot clock as Purdue’s defense really kept them out on the floor. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win and that’s really all that matters.
Now, Purdue returns home to play an excellent MSU team that has yet to lose on the road in the Big 10. As usual MSU has a lot of talented players who are athletic and who love to run the floor and get easy baskets in transition. In addition, they just POUND the offensive boards and it is going to take a superb effort by Purdue on Tuesday to keep them off the glass. I’ve seen MSU play a number of times this year and when they are on, I think they can play with anyone in the country. They should also have Raymar Morgan back for this game (he’s been out for a couple of weeks with mononucleosis) and one can only hope he will be as rusty offensively as Robbie was for Purdue today. Still, even though MSU is a very good team, they are not invincible as evidenced by their home losses to Penn State and Northwestern. I think it should be a great game and let’s hope Purdue comes out and plays like they are capable of playing.