AJ Hammons Offers Sacrifice To Purdue Basketball Royalty
Maybe it was the historic atmosphere in Mackey Arena...
Or maybe it was the fact that Nebraska dared to challenge a future NBA center with the skinny underclassman duo of Michael Jacobson and Jake Hammond.
Whatever the catalyst, AJ Hammons went beast-mode and posted the best game of his already impressive career - dropping 32 points (career high), along with 11 rebounds, 5 assists (career high), and 3 blocks.
I spent a lot of time parsing Hammons dunk clips and GIFs for this post, but BTN did it much more succinctly and eloquently:
AJ Hammons love fest aside, note that Nebraska is no Big Ten pushover…at least relative to some of the Big Ten bottom feeders Purdue has played….
Last week Nebraska upset Michigan State at East Lansing. The Cornhuskers certainly weren’t afraid of Purdue and they played much better than the score indicates. But in the end, there wasn't much they could do but shrug their shoulders and watch the AJ Hammons Show.
Considering Purdue’s recent personnel issues, a 89-74 win and no new injuries is something to be satisfied with and maybe even celebrated.
More importantly, Purdue has confidence to build upon and a week off to heal before the schedule gets...well.... brutal. Four of the next five games are against teams in the top 5 of the Big Ten.
Things are about to get real.
Hammons was far from the only Boilermaker to have a big game. Here are some unsolicited observations:
- PJT Trifecta coming at ya:
- This wasn’t PJ Thompson’s his best game, but he still had an impressive line. In his 33 minutes he dished out 7 assists, scored 6 points and committed ZERO turnovers...again.
- PJT is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on this team. Heneutralizes his physical setbacks with sheer hustle. He's beginning to play with with more confidence and becoming a credible threat to drive in the lane. He’s also earning more playing time (he had 33 against Nebraska) - and with this his game is expanding, but his turnovers have remained unrealistically low.
- He's played 70 more minutes than all of last season yet he has committed 8 fewer turnovers. He’s also grabbed 20 more rebounds, and dished out 26 more assists. And he’s shooting better across all categories…And those are just what show up in the box scores. He’s also playing gritty defense and throwing his body all over the court.
- Haas also had an impressively efficient game considering his numbers were cut short to accommodate the Hammons Show. 13 points on (5-6) shooting and a perfect 3-3 from the line. He's in a tough spot, but making the mot of the time he gets.
- Just for fun, Hammons and Haas combined for 45 points (19-23), 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 7-7 FT.
- Not only was tonight Raphael Davis’s second straight game of having a pulse, but he found his also located outside shot to boot. Three of Ray D’s threes were at pivotal moments while Nebraska was shooting their way back into the game. Purdue needs that badly this second half o conference play. I don't see a scenario where Purdue has post season success without Ray D playing a big role. Hopefully this can be sustained.
- Purdue’s perimeter D is looking suspect. It needs to be fixed. Or figure out a new scheme. Something. This might be the burden Painter bears to maintain the size advantage. But at the very least, he needs to get creative with the personnel he’s using. We are keeping mediocre teams in the game way longer than they should. We've already seen it bite us in the back. It'll happen again if it's not corrected or at least patched.
- On a somewhat related note, Ryan Cline’s D is what you’d expect it to be at this point in his career. There’s no question it is a weakness and he’s getting exploited by nearly every team we've played. But on the offensive end, he not only is good for a three (or 2 or 3), but he also does a great job spacing the floor and moving the ball. While he lacks the physical attributes of a good point guard, he has the vision and mentality of one. In my opinion pros vastly outweigh the con, and the experience he is getting this season will be invaluable both later in the season and in his bright future. I don't really have point here, but thought it was worth noting.
- The last Purdue team to shoot better at the free throw line than this team is currently shooting (75.5%) was Willie Dean’s final year (2002-2003). I think it’s about time this gets some recognition.
- This was awesome! Purdue has been doing a great job this year with promotions, reunions, and recognitions. Keep it up.