Saturday Wrap-up: Boilers win and lose
It's not everyday that your alma mater's basketball and football team begin playing at the exact same time on the same day...But today, we as Boilermakers got to experience it...but much of the world didn't know. Purdue played Iowa in Iowa City...and got the upgrade to EsPN2 because Iowa's just outside of the college football playoff rankings. At the same time, the 21st ranked Boiler basketball squad played basketball in a casino with spotty internet TV coverage as the vehicle to get the moving pictures to your excitedly waiting retinae.
Both games started out pretty crappy...but for different reasons.
In Iowa City, Hazell's boys looked overmatched early- Mistakes and defensive breakdowns led to a 20-0 deficit very early. Adding injury to insult, David Blough was knocked out of the game by the crown of an Iowa safety's helmet early in the 2nd quarter. While it's not legal to hit someone with the top of the helmet with your eyes to the ground, no flag was thrown, and Purdue's RS Frosh QB was knocked out cold.
After Blough was forced to the locker room, Appleby played for the first time in two months...and didn't look rusty. In fact, he completed 11 of his first 12 passes while the defense rose to the occasion. The result, was Purdue clawed back into the game to trail by just 10 points at the half (20-10). I joked on Twitter that the best thing for a Purdue QB seems to be not being talked to too much by the OC. Purdue QBs seem to get less productive the longer they start in this system...that's probably not a great sign...I'm told we're on the right path...so there's that.
Back to basketball.
Purdue wasn't able to shoot the basketball for more than a few minutes before today's game in The Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. Disregard the fact that the Hall of Fame isn't in the same state as the Mohegan Sun Casino...and that they're an hour apart from each other for a moment longer.
Toby Keith had a concert that kept Purdue from practicing on the makeshift floor in Connecticut...Coach Painter didn't like that much and didn't know that game day would go this way. Both Purdue and ODU started off the game as if they couldn't figure out how to shoot on the newly set-up temporary rims...but Haas and Hammons settled the Boilers down a bit by exerting their will on the smaller Monarchs. At the break, Purdue was up 28-18. Purdue's rebounding didn't let ODU have many second chance looks while Purdue's perimeter defense showed up for the first time of the season and kept Old Dominion from getting too many easy looks.
...we return to Iowa City for the exciting conclusion...
In the second half, Appleby's completion percentage fell like a stone as Purdue racked up yardage, but couldn't score enough to stay close to Iowa. The day started with nearly a foot of snow falling on the synthetic turf at Iowa...and Iowa's grounds crew did a brilliant job getting they field ready, but it was pretty cold for the whole game. Purdue's defense seemed to cool as the temps went down in the afternoon. Sure, that had nothing to do with the fact that the defense disappeared, but in a two-win season, you need to take advantage of poetic-type of things whenever they present themselves.
Markell Jones returned from a banged up knee and played pretty darned well- 24 carries, 87 yards and a TD. Appleby finished 23/40 for 259 yards and a TD.His favorite target was Yancey who had 9 receptions for 117 yards, but no TDs. He was a bit of a microcosm for the Boiler offense that could move the ball (405 total yards)...but only 2 TDs. But maybe the biggest development of the day, Griggs went 2/2...Neither was over 22 yards long though.
Purdue played well at times, and Iowa looked like a top-10 team as Purdue just couldn't answer in the second half. The final of 40-20 clinched Iowa a spot on the B1G championship...and assured Hazell that he would not exceed his win total from last season. If I was a betting man, which I'm not, I'd put down a buck that Purdue won't be able to keep up with IU's finely-tuned machine of an offense next week in the bucket game.
If Purdue drops the game next week, it'll be the first time since the second World War that Purdue has lost three-straight bucket games. Think about that- all of the lousy Purdue football in my life...and my Dad's life...and we've never seen anything like this (if Purdue predictably drops next week's game). But, I'm told by Mr. Burke and the actions of the trustees, that things are going the right direction...disregard what your eyes see or what records say...All is well.
In the second half of Purdue's game in Connecticut, Purdue looked a bit less like the team from 2014 and more like that we had seen for a few games in God's Country. Stephens and Mathias hit a few long range shots and Purdue found some much-needed rhythm. But AJ Hammons was really the catalyst. He showed why he might be a top-3 center in the country for his final season on campus. Off the bench he had 18 points in 19 minutes and added six rebounds. The other 7 footer had 10 points, 8 rebs and 2 blocks. The Kid had 12 points. Swanigan rebounded well...but led the team in TOs (5) and looked like a Freshman.
Purdue won because they're better...not because they played a great game. But whenever you hold a team to 39 points that was averaging around 75 points, that's not so lousy. Purdue started sloppy, but simply wore down ODU with their size. The Forces of Good also hit 75% of their FTs as a team, and won the rebounding battle 33 to 23. Like I said, they really didn't play well, but they won 61-39. Our favorite basketball team can score and shoot from distance...but when it's not necessarily there that day, they can grind like Matt Painter teams are known to do. Purdue is 21st in the nation. I have a hard time believing 20 teams are better than our Boilers. If they keep winning, others will start agreeing with me.
Next up, they get to play Florida at 5:30 tomorrow. If you're J Money, you'll be there...if you're the rest of us, you get to watch on EsPN2...which is nice, because BTN still hasn't taken a full production crew to a Purdue game. If Purdue gets into rhythm early, they should make relatively light work of Florida. Right now, the RPI thinks UF is better than Purdue...Sagarin thinks Purdue is about 10 spots ahead of the Gators while KenPom's index thinks our Boilers are about 20 ahead of Florida. The scholar athletes will settle the computer debate in real life tomorrow.
These two have a common former opponent already in this young season. Purdue beat NCA&T 80-41...UF pounded them 104-54. One thing is for certain- this is the best opponent Purdue has played in the young season.