© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE:  Purdue 81, Indiana 67
Today’s game against IU was one of those weird games where even though Purdue won by 14 (81-67) and was never in any danger of losing, I was disappointed in the way Purdue played. To me, Purdue lacked the emotional intensity and concentration that normally characterizes games between these two rivals. There is no doubt that the fact that IU has such a woeful record played a part in Purdue’s lack of intensity and concentration, but to me there aren’t any excuses when the opponent is IU. When a team shoots 17 of 32 from the free throw line, let’s their opponent shoot 50% from the field and gives up numerous easy offensive rebounds and lay-ups, I think it’s a clear indication that the effort and concentration are lacking. Fortunately for Purdue, IU has neither the experience nor the talent to win even when they play half-way decent like they did today.
The game was basically over in the first 4 minutes as Purdue quickly jumped out to an 11-2 lead on the strength of 2 consecutive 3-pointers by E’Twaun Moore followed by another 3-pointer from Chris Kramer and then a lay-up by E’Twaun following a steal. Over the next 6 minutes, IU would close the gap to 6 points on 3 separate occasions (16-10, 18-12 and 22-16) and it seemed like every time Purdue had a chance to take complete control of the game, Indiana would get an offensive rebound and a put-back to stay in the game. Purdue finally got the lead up to 10 (26-16) with just under 9 minutes remaining in the half after another 3-pointer from E’Twaun Moore and a free throw from Robbie Hummel, but Purdue would then go cold from the field and when Kyle Tabor scored on an easy lay-up with just under 6 minutes remaining in the half, Indiana once again pulled with-in 6 (27-21). That proved to be as close as Indiana would come for the remainder of the game as Purdue went on a 10-5 run to lead by 11 (37-26) before IU scored 4 of the last 6 points in the half and the half-time score was 39-30 in Purdue’s favor.
The second half started with another IU basket off an offensive rebound following a blown lay-up by Lewis Jackson after a great pass from Chris Kramer. E’Twaun Moore quickly scored on a nice jumper in the lane, but Devan Dumes hit IU’s first 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to 6 once again (41-35) with only 2 minutes gone in the half. Purdue quickly answered on the other end with a nice jumper from JaJuan Johnson followed by a lay-up from Lewis Jackson after a steal and all of a sudden the lead was back to 10 (45-35). From here, both teams struggled to score and the score was 48-39 with just under 14 minutes remaining when Chris Kramer stole the ball and scored on a play where he got molested on the shot with no call from an official standing about 5 feet away. It was perhaps one of the worst “no-calls” I’ve ever seen and whoever that official was should never, ever referee a Big 10 basketball game again. It was a perfect example of why so many kids are getting hurt in these games. Officials just have to call fouls on plays like this one or the game gets out of control. In any case, following Kramer’s basket, Bobby Riddell nailed a 3-pointer from the corner and Purdue had its biggest lead of the game (53-39) with about 13 minutes to go. Purdue then got the ball back only to have Keaton Grant have his pocket picked from behind which led to a Matt Roth 3-pointer to make the score 53-42 with 12 ˝ minutes remaining. From here, Purdue’s lead fluctuated between 12 and 9 points until just less than 3 minutes remained. At that point Purdue led 66-57. E’Twaun Moore then buried his 5th 3-pointer of the afternoon from the top of the key and when Chris Kramer followed a few seconds later with a lay-up, Purdue led 71-57. Indiana then spent the rest of the game fouling at every opportunity and only some terrible free throw shooting from Purdue kept the final margin from ballooning on Indiana and the final score was 81-67 in Purdue’s favor.
Nemanja Calasan – Nemanja was reportedly ill with bronchitis before today’s game and it showed as he did not appear to have much energy today. He did tough it out for 13 minutes but I thought he did a poor job defensively and at least 2 of IU’s offensive rebounds and put-backs came when he was in the game. He ended with 4 points, 1 rebound and 1 steal for the day.
Marcus Green – I thought Marcus played pretty well today. He got some extended minutes (20) primarily because Robbie Hummel was finally knocked out of the game following a collision between his cheek and Tom Pritchard’s shoulder late in the 2nd half. Marcus finished the day with 9 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal in those 20 minutes. The 9 points represent the most points Marcus has scored since the Iowa game way back on January 18.
Bobby Riddell – Bobby got some extended minutes today and took advantage of them with 7 points and an assist in 13 minutes of play. He was a perfect 4 of 4 on free throws in the last 2 minutes of the game and it was nice to see that Purdue has at least one player on the roster that can make free throws when it matters. I thought Bobby also did a good job of staying between his man and the basket at the defensive end.
Keaton Grant – I’m not sure what’s going on with Keaton, but he’s not been playing well all year and today’s game was no exception. He missed all 3 of his shots from the field (all 3 of them were wide-open 3-pointers) and he was only 5 of 8 from the free throw line. He’s now shooting just 34.2 % from the field (including 33.1% from the 3-point line) and 65.5% from the free throw line for the year. This is from a guy who shot 42.9% from the field (including 44% from beyond the arc) and 85.1% from the free throw line last year. He ended the day with 5 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 turnovers in 21 minutes of play.
Chris Kramer – I thought Chris played really well today. It was a shame he got into foul trouble in the second half because he was all over the floor causing havoc today when he was in the game. He ended the day with 7 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 5 steals and 2 turnovers in only 23 minutes of play and in addition he took at least 1 charge and deflected at least 2 passes. I also thought he got a clean block on a play late in the game, but the official saw it differently and Chris was charged with his 4th foul.
Robbie Hummel – Despite media reports that Robbie’s back condition had “worsened” and he would not play today, Robbie was in uniform and saw some action. He did not start the game, but he was Purdue’s first substitute off the bench and he ended up playing a season low 16 minutes after getting his bell rung on a screen by Indiana’s Tom Pritchard. I thought the screen was a legal screen, but I did not appreciate Pritchard’s celebrating after Robbie was knocked to the floor. I also did not appreciate the way Indiana players appeared to go out of their way to knock Robbie to the floor when he was up in the air after a rebound. Robbie ended the day with only 3 points, 2 rebounds and 3 blocks in his 16 minutes of action and he also took a charge in one of his frequent trips to the hardwood. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player anywhere who plays harder than Robbie Hummel and it’s just a shame his back won’t allow him to play as well as he is capable of playing. I think one sign that the injury is starting to take a toll on him is his 1 of 3 performance form the free throw line today. Robbie is still at 78.7% from the free throw line for the year, but he’s only made 9 of his last 17 free throws and it’s obvious that a lack of practice time is having an impact on his game.
JaJuan Johnson – I thought JaJuan had another very good game today. He wasn’t as dominating as I thought he might have been, but I think Indiana was pretty determined not to let him dominate inside. Still, JaJuan finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks, 1 assist and 4 turnovers in 34 minutes of play and only the fact that he had 4 turnovers prevented this from being one of JaJuan’s better games of the year.
E’Twaun Moore – E’Twaun was simply sensational today with 26 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 4 turnovers in 37 minutes of play. He was 5 of 6 from 3-point range and it was a very welcome sight to see E’Twaun make so may 3-point shots after he has struggled so much (he was 4 of 23 in the previous 6 games) from beyond the arc recently. The thing that has impressed me about E’Twaun recently is how he has adjusted his approach at the offensive end and is letting the game come to him instead of trying to force things. It really paid off today as every single one of E’Twaun‘s baskets came on an open shot and he was very, very efficient as his 26 points came on only 14 shots.
Lewis Jackson – I thought Lewis had some problems today trying to contain IU’s Verdell Jones. I’ve seen IU play a number of times this year and Jones had one of his best performances of the season today and much of his success came at Lewis’s expense. Lewis finished the day with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 turnovers in 20 minutes of play and I’d rate his performance today as OK, but not as good as he is capable of delivering.
As I said in the opening paragraph, today’s game was a strange game but the bottom line is that Purdue won another game and now stands 10-4 in the Big 10. I think it’s hard to attach a whole lot of meaning to today’s game given the poor record Indiana brought into the game and the fact that two of Purdue’s main players (Hummel and Kramer) played so sparingly (a combined 39 minutes). Purdue’s next game is Thursday night in Ann Arbor and I expect UM to be super charged up for this game, primarily because of the precarious situation UM finds itself in regarding an NCAA berth (a win over Purdue would be a real feather in their cap and would greatly enhance their resume). I’m also concerned with Keaton Grant’s continued “malaise” and the fact that Purdue just can’t seem to get everyone healthy at the same time. To me, every Big 10 game is a “BIG” game, but when you get this close to the end of the season, games like the UM game seem to grow in importance. Let’s hope Purdue finds a way to sneak a win on Thursday and can finish the season on a positive note. The Big 10 Title is just sitting there waiting to be taken and it will be fascinating to see whether this team is capable of snatching it away from MSU.