HAMMONS HEARTLESSLY CRUSHES HOOSIERS, 67-63
Starters: Jon Octeus, Dakota Mathias, Ray Davis, Vince Edwards, AJ HammonsFinishers: Bryson Scott, Kendall Stephens, Ray Davis, Vince Edwards, AJ Hammons
Things you should absolutely remember from tonight:
- Purdue beat IU in Assembly Hall, 67-63, sweeping the Hoosiers for the first time since 2011.
- Purdue has won 7 of their last 8 games, with victories over three ranked teams and finally has a signature win on the road.
- AJ Hammons is officially a monster who cannot be controlled by mere humans.
- Jon Octeus murdered Collin Hartman, burned his house down, peed on the ashes, stole his girl, broke his girl’s heart, and didn’t call Mama Hartman back.
And now to serious basketball. Purdue faced it’s most importa-
Hahahahahahahahahaha like there was any way I would start writing about actual basketball without embedding the Octeus vine.
— Aneesh Ramaswamy (@aneeshswamy) February 20, 2015
For real, he hit Ass(embly) Hall with the Nike Jumpman logo. (h/t Myles Brown)
Let’s watch that again, this time in higher quality.
What a masterpiece. Someone give Octeus a World Food Prize or something.
RIP Collin Hartman.
Ok, where were we? Aah yes. Purdue faced it’s most important test of the season tonight, with an opportunity to give the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee a win to remember. With few Rivalry Week games on the docket, most major college basketball analysts were tuned in to ESPN to watch IU and Purdue…and, at least for one half, the Boilers didn’t disappoint.
Hint: that half wasn’t the first. Early in the game, Purdue would not get the ball inside, building most of the offense around some meaningless perimeter passes and settling for a ton of jumpers. It didn’t help that Dakota Mathias and Kendall Stephens couldn’t hit the ocean from a beach, all while AJ and Isaac Haas were fighting for great position against undersized IU forwards all half. The intelligent and handsome Michael Henry had a great point: the entry passes coming from Purdue’s wings were at waist-level, while both Hammons and Haas had half a foot on all of IU’s post defenders! Pass the ball high!
When the Boilers decided to get some clear passing lanes inside, good ol’ clappy was in the ear of the refs all night, and Gene Steratore, Steve McJunkins (that’s his real life name) and Mike Eades were predictably awful. AJ and Isaac were getting mauled in the post, and most of it went uncalled. After Crean complained that AJ was lowering his shoulder, McJunkins called a particularly awful offensive in the post. You decide if it was a foul:
— Aneesh Ramaswamy (@aneeshswamy) February 20, 2015
IU spent the first half going for a bunch of home-run plays, mostly to get the crowd behind them. Hanner Mosquera-Perea, in particular, started off hot. A highlight-reel alley oop, running hook shot, baseline jumper, and a banked jumper from the wing gave IU some early momentum, aided by Purdue’s continued poor shot selection.
But I do have to give Coach Clappenstein some due. He was utilizing some fairly brilliant movement through the post to keep both Hammons and Haas off balance. There was one sequence, in particular: with 2 minutes left in the half, Yogi Ferrell, Stanford Robinson, and Troy Williams executed a perfect weave…except instead of running it at the top of the key, they ran it in the paint and along the baseline as Smotherman fell asleep. It was the perfect way to attack Purdue inside without directly challenging The Great Wall of Hammons, and it seemed to work for a while.
That being said, Purdue’s post-play was keeping them in the game despite some awful shots from beyond the arc (Hammons with 5 points, Haas with 8). IU was up 29-27 at the half, taking the lead after a Ferrell floater at the halftime buzzer. IU used semi-transition looks (basically running a slower, more methodical break) generated a bunch of good looks, but they only hit 3/8 from three, and 12/27 from the field. It felt like Purdue had ton of room to get better in the second half, and that’s exactly what they did.
Though the stat line might not show it, Vince Edwards came out of halftime with a fire lit under his ass, crashing the offensive glass hard and sticking close to his assignment. This effort was contagious, and even though some of the ill-advised threes continued Purdue fought for second chance looks that slowly gave them a lead. IU came out of the of the half in a 1-3-1 zone, which wasn’t ideal, because…well…this happened.
Right after the death of Collin Hartman, Ray Davis came up with a loose ball, finished with an easy layup, and you could hear a pin drop in Assembly Hall. Defensively, Purdue started clogging passing lanes and communicating in a way that reminded me of the 2008-2011 Matt Painter defenses. AJ and his McJunkins were feasting inside, altering every shot in the paint until IU was visibly hesitating on every drive. Offensively, the motion offense chugged along with purpose, with every player knowing the exact role they needed to play to get a great pass inside. Hammons and Haas continued to get fantastic post position against the smaller defenders, and Hammons in particular made them pay.
Let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge AJ Hammons tonight. This was, without a doubt, the best game he has ever played at Purdue. The beast finished with 20 points on 8-9 shooting, with most of them coming off baby hooks or drop-step dunks. It was an absolutely dominant offensive performance, and exactly what all of us Purdue fans were waiting for with defenders half his size. Though he only had 4 rebounds, he was working hard to box his man out and helped facilitate Ray Davis’ 10-rebound performance. AJ also had 4 blocks, which seems low, and actively altered at least a dozen more. All in the most hostile environment possible for Purdue, and during a must-win game. AJ was incredible.
Stellar b-roll of A.J. Hammons catching lobs against his baby cousins in the driveway, just adorable stuff wait that was all from tonight — Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) February 20, 2015
But IU kept trading buckets with Purdue down the stretch. They were focused on quick outlet passes after defensive rebounds and made Purdue baskets, trying to attack the basket before Hammons could get reset. Again, chalk this up to the positive side of Crean’s coaching efforts. When James Blackmon Jr (who finished with the quietest 14 points on 4/9 shooting you’ll ever see) drilled a corner three with Davis in his face, and Octeus fouled out immediately after, I thought Purdue was sunk. But Bryson Scott came in and held the fort, and despite a fairly disastrous offensive foul with under 2 minutes left, he filled in for Octeus fairly admirably.
But when Yogi Ferrell gets an open three, he’s not hesitating. With 1:45 left, IU took the lead off a Yogi Ferrell three, and Purdue fans were clenching their cheeks. Thankfully The Captain came to the rescue. Ray Davis had a pretty phenomenal defensive game, but offensively wasn’t much of a factor until push came to shove. He hit a tough baseline layup in traffic to give Purdue the lead again, and executed a beautiful drive out of a timeout to extend the lead to 3 with 30 seconds left. After Ray went 1-for-2 from the line, Purdue was up 2 and IU had the ball with 15 seconds left. Heartbreak city, right? Well…
The game was over when…
Yogi Ferrell decided to play hero ball, and instead of taking the fairly open lane in front of him decided to step back and launch a three over the outstretched hands of Bryson Scott. Clang, AJ with the rebound, and his two made free throws iced Purdue’s first Assembly Hall win since 2011.
- DID I MENTION THIS OCTEUS DUNK YET?
- AJ Hammons AJ Hammons AJ Hammons AJ Hammons oh man what a beautiful basketball monster. During the past month, AJ has been focused and has made the leap to where we all wanted him this year. Basically what I’m saying is burn those “AJ doesn’t have a motor” stories, because that’s old news baby.
- Seth Greenberg is great at his job. ESPN should have him announce on his own, because there are very few others worth listening to on the Worldwide Leader.
- Haas free throw shooting, the unsung hero from the game. 6-6 tonight for a 50% free throw shooter, in Assembly Hall. What a hero.
- “Baptizes the Masses” after a dunk that eats a defender’s soul. Not the biggest fan of Rece Davis and LaPhonso Ellis, but that was a 10/10 call.
- Steve McJunkins jokes.
- Bryson’s late-game defense, particularly on Yogi Ferrell after Jon Octeus fouled out. Yogi is a phenomenal player and you’ll never completely stop him (unless you’re Future Big Ten All-Defense wing Rapheal Davis), but Bryson did exactly enough to keep Yogi off balance.
- Speaking of Ray Davis: his work on JBJ was great, despite JBJ’s 14 points. Ray is absolutely a B10 DPOY candidate and one of the best wing defenders in the conference. Unfortunately, that award should already have AJ Hammons’ name engraved on it.
- Post entry passes, especially early in the first half. Man, were they ugly. Aimed low, mistimed, the whole nine yards.
- Big Ten refs in Assembly Hall after Crean has been chirping in their ear all night.
- Refs calling Hammons for a tech after the Vine below. Really, that was a technical foul for taunting. Can’t have fun on the basketball court.
— Aneesh Ramaswamy (@aneeshswamy) February 20, 2015
- Refs blowing 90% of the calls on Haas.
- The 60 real-time seconds played without Hammons or Haas on the floor, which ended immediately after Yogi effortlessly attacked the basket and drew a foul without The Great Wall of Hammons to meet him. To Painter’s credit, he immediately realized this wouldn’t work and got Haas in the game.
- KENDALL STEPHENS, BUT NOT HIS SHOOTING. OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE THAT STEPHENS WENT FOR THE BLOCK ON THE FINAL POSSESSION, WHEN PURDUE WAS ONLY UP 4. THAT COULD HAVE BEEN A FOUL WITH MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME FOR IU TO STEAL THE WIN. SERIOUSLY KENDALL, WHAT IN KEADY’S NAME WERE YOU DOING?
- Bryson Scott’s distribution abilities. He was doing a good job hustling, but he couldn’t see some simple passes that were available. Especially inside, when Hammons was fighting for position and a clear lane opens up. Bryson will either hesitate for a millisecond, throwing off the timing, or he will keep his head down and not even look for the pass. This worries me for next year, but he’s been working hard and has clearly won back some favor from the coaching staff, so I think he can work through that this summer.
Moving Picture Thingy of the Night:
A solid, measured, fundamentally sound chest pass from Ray Davis to Basil Smotherman.
PSYCHE IT’S JON OCTEUS. IT’S ALWAYS JON OCTEUS. GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN.
Tweet of the night:
LIKE IT WOULD BE ANYTHING EXCEPT JON OCTEUS-RELATED TWEETS
— Hayden Casey (@RealHaydenCasey) February 20, 2015
Here’s a partial list of national writers (not just college basketball) who lost their minds over that Octeus dunk:
Featured image from Mark Lebryk, USA Today Sports.