Boilers Knock Down the 'Dores
It looked like the Boilers were flat-out hungover in the wake of the disappointment in Indianapolis on Saturday night as Purdue simply couldn't score early on. In fact, at the 15:30 mark, Purdue had just two points...in the Butler game, Purdue had 12. But it's not how you start, it's how you finish, and the Forces of Good did that quite well tonight. But first, let's talk shooting, shall we.
Overall, they were OK- 36%...but behind the arc, they were an absolute pile of steaming excrement. The Boilers combined for 10.5% from three point...and Bad Kendall was in the house, as The Kid went 0-6. Davis went 1-4, Cline went 1-3...and that's the list. Cline's three pointer was important late in the second half as it helped create distance from the scrappy Fightin' Stallings. But in spite of shooting horrendously from long range, Purdue still found a way to win 68-55.
But how, you ask? Well, Purdue scored just 31 points in the first 30 minutes of the game, and exploded for 38 points in the closing 10 minutes of the game.
AJ was dialed in all night though. He was attacking the glass and making life awful difficult for the visitors in black unis. Hammons had 5 blocks...in the first half alone. He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. He looked resolute all game and the combination of his footwork and smart pump fakes frustrated Vanderbilts packed-in defense all game. In fact, Hammons single-handedly beat multiple triple teams...that's pretty hardcore, if you're into that sort of thing.
But in spite of Hammons Herculean, and consistent effort, Purdue really struggled. That 10:00 mark was kind of magical- Mackey came alive so much that it was deafening following a nifty entry pass from Mathias to Hammons...then the following possession, Mathias hit a three that put Purdue up; they'd never trail again.
Vanderbilt and Purdue looked like two teams from Keady's coaching tree. The game was grimy, gritty and tough to watch. In spite of both teams having plenty of skilled players this season and tons of athleticism, it wasn't a thing of beauty. Purdue's size, specifically Hammons size tonight, crushed Vandy. At the 5:00 mark, Vandy's first big fouled out. A bit over a minute later, the back-up center was gone...and over a minute after that, Vandy lost another player to a foul out (and then a tech).
As they have a few times this season, Purdue won kind of by attrition. Depth and toughness won the day. That and some good free throw shooting (77.4% as a team) put the contest away.
RayDavis had a quiet 14 points and 5 rebounds, but sat down for long stretches in the second half as Purdue tried to create space with Vandy packing defense in around Hammons. Haas missed four bunnies early that would have helped as Purdue struggled, but he finished with 6 points and was also on the bench for much of the game. Swanigan's 13 points and 8 rebounds were noteworthy as he looked like the only effective Boiler for much of the game...and he helped foul out the Vandy big men.
Edwards finished with only 4 points and 5 rebounds...all in the first half, I believe...but one of his buckets looked like this:
[video width="1280" height="720" m4v="http://boiledsports.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/59/2015/12/IMG_0076.m4v"][/video]
Vandy was without a 7 footer due to injury, and that surely didn't help them, but maybe more noteworthy was that Purdue's backcourt defense stopped another sharpshooter from having positive impact on the game. Last game it was Dunham that went 0-12. Tonight it was LaChance that went 0-6 and scored zero points.
Purdue won the rebounding battle 43-34, cut the turnovers down significantly from last game and had two more assists than Vandy...So while they really didn't score well for much of the game, they still did the little things that won the game...And AJ is quite good at basketball (did I mention that?).
Purdue has 7 days off again for Christmas before heading to Madison to play Wisconsin to start the B1G season. This win will make the candy canes a bit sweeter for Purdue fans, I would think.
Merry Christmas to all!