The Kid Buries Red Wolves
Matty has been looking to light a bit of a fire under the backsides of Hammons and Stephens via removing them from the starting lineup. Tonight, the tactic looked like it worked quite well. Make no mistake, Arkansas State is very bad at basketball. They've hovered in the middle 300s of the RPI rankings for this entire season. So the last thing they needed when they came into Mackey Arena for the first time in the program's history, was The Kid to get white hot in the first half and make the game less of a contest than an exhibition.
Stephens led the Boilers by hitting his first 6 three pointers of the game. Mathias and Octeus added one each as well in the first twenty minutes of play...The result was The Forces of Good shot 80% from deep. And at 52-18, Purdue was in cruise control.
Atop of his 18 points, The Kid had three blocked shots, two assists and a steal. Painter has been stressing that he can't let his offense dictate his defensive production; and it really didn't tonight. His defensive growth reminds me a bit of E'Twaun Moore's. Much like Moore, Stephens came to Purdue as not much of a defender, but his length athleticism and basketball smarts are starting to yield results on defense. By the way, Stephens noteworthy game wasn't even a total half of basketball; he did it in 19 minutes.
Speaking of efficiency, Purdue's second leading scorers both played just 17 minutes and had 10 points...but did it in different ways. Mathias finished with three rebounds and two steals along with his double-digit points. The Ham Slammich had five rebounds and two assists.
As it often happens, ArkState really couldn't handle Hammons or Haas; but neither needed to play a ton of minutes. Edwards continues to be a player that makes everyone better...even when he's not looking to score. He had six points, five rebounds and five assists is a lunchpail-style solid night.
This game was bad though. How bad you ask? One of the Red Wolves starting guards fouled out...with 17 minutes left in the second half. Their starting power forward fouled out in just ten minutes of play while not scoring a point and pulling down two rebounds.
Thanks to BTN selling the rights to EsPN, many enjoyed this one on their phones and tablets...I'd wager a guess that the 34 point Boiler halftime lead led many Boiler and Red Wolves faithful alike to watch a different game on a large screen, on a made for TV network. I had a few smart aleck-y pals remind me that it was easy to watch EsPN3 on the big TV, by simply using a cable, or you Xbox or a Google, Apple or Amazon dongle. Indeed, I actually did watch much of the game on my screen using one of these convenient methods. But in spite of that, the picture wasn't great and my six year old Apple TV struggled a bit to hold onto the signal.
Say what you want about this type of technology, but it's really not convenient. Convenience is turning on the TV and watching a game with a normal remote. I will continue to thank my pals at the Big Ten Network via Twitter for not putting Purdue on the real feed in spite of the games taking place in a Big Ten venue during the regular season. One day, Purdue will be treated like a conference veteran with a deep record of conference success and not an expansion team...but they gotta earn that, right? Oh wait.
Purdue did what they were supposed to do- handled their business quite easily and cruised to an 87-46 victory. Arkansas State's coach was asked why he decided to schedule this game- He said that he had never been to Mackey...thought it would be a good trip. I'd wager a guess that his mini vacation to West Lafayette in early December wasn't too great trip for he or his players; Hope they got some Triple XXX on the way out of town.
Next up, it gets decidedly more difficult for Matty and the boys. They'll travel to Tennessee to face former Boiler player and coach, Kevin Stallings' Vandy Commodores. It's a late 9:00 tip-off on Saturday night, so J and I will both be sleeping. After a big afternoon dinner at MCL, I'm usually pretty drowsy...hopefully one of the young pups from BS can handle the post-game wrap.
Real time RPI has the Good Guys losing a close one...Purdue can't really afford that as they work to dig themselves out of the Northern Florida hole.