For anyone who has been a little downtrodden lately thanks to the whippings that the football team has been subjected to recently can't have nothing but a smile on their face tonight after a feel-good re-opening of the always-pleasing Mackey Arena. Our Boilers ran Northern Illinois out of the gym tonight, 96-34. That's what you get for beating the Purdue football team, Northern Illinois. Matty Painter doesn't forget.
I missed the first ten minutes or so of the game and when I texted B-Dowd (who was on the scene) to ask if I missed anything, he said "You missed nothing other than NIU looking like they'd never played before." He'll be along eventually with some perspective on the new Mackey and the re-dedication hoopla. For now, though, the game itself.
The Boilers held the Huskies to just 20 points in the first half in racing out to a 26 point lead at the break. Sometimes in the second half of games, the team with the big lead sort of tapers off as they lose focus on their defensive intensity and allow the weaker team to save some face in the second half. That wasn't the casde tonight, as the worn down Huskies committed turnover after delicious turnover and the Boilers kept rolling up points, to the tune of a 50-14 second half chasm. The 62-point margin is being reported as Purdue's largest margin in 100 years, though on the broadcast on ESPN3, the yahoos were saying it was the largest in 60 years. Maybe those guys just think 1911 is sixty years ago. It's possible. Anyway, we'll move on.
Leading the charge was an old friend and familiar face, Mr. Robert Hummel -- you may know him as Rob or Robbie. Sir Rob had 21 points in just 20 minutes of action, including 5 for 7 from beyond the arc. Rob, I'm sure, has heard many Purdue fans of both the male and female persuasion telling him how great it is to see him back. Let me echo that sentiment -- we missed you, Rob. It's fantastic to see you out there.
This was a true team effort, as many different guys got on the board and made heady plays, both defensively and offensively. Sandi Marcius looked like an improving player yet again, including a jump hook and a ferocious dunk after running the floor on a fast break. The bench reaction, including Ryne Smith doing a jig and DJ Byrd and Rob Hummel screaming and high-fiving, was almost as much fun to watch as Sandi's dunk.
Travis Carroll showed some range and got some big cheers for doing it, as well. The development of our bigger boys will be key as this season moves along. That much of for sure, so it's great to see Sandi and Travis getting the support they are from the crowds and the bench.
Also showing better than he did during the exhibition games was Anthony Johnson, who still looks a little like Gumby out there to me, but maybe he's more like Flubber. I guess we'll see, but he looked a little less sluggish than he has and finished well.
To illustrate how much of a team effort this was, know this: the leaders in each of the following categories was someone different: points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. (Hummel, T-John, LewJack, Kelsey and Carroll, if you're wondering.)
Kelsey Barlow was the second-leading scorer with 14, while the Johnson boys both had 12. Ryne and Sandi both followed that with 8 each. All told, eleven players got points into the box score. That's nice to have. Especially with the questions out there about where the points were going to come from on this team.
Yes, we do understand that this is a bad team the Boilermakers just played. However, and we've said this before, this is what good teams do to bad teams -- ground them into a fine powder. Purdue did not let Northern Illinois hang around at all, not even when the Boilers shot under 40% in the first 12 minutes of the game. It didn't matter because they were pinning the Huskies to the lovely new floor and asking NIU how it smelled.
The Boilers wound up shooting 77% from the line, a respectable 46% from the field and a lovely 50% (14-28) from three. In fact, if you take away all of Purdue's free throws and two-point field goals, they still win this game 42-34. Chew on that.
Also, interestingly, Jacob Lawson got some minutes in this game and Donnie Hale did not, which would lead you to believe that it will in fact be Donnie Hale who gets the redshirt this year. Unless Lawson gets injured and plays in fewer than 30% of the team's games, he now cannot redshirt since he appeared tonight.
I'd love to do a lot more analysis but we will have many chances to do so this season and this game, while fun, probably isn't really indicative of the kinds of games Purdue will be playing this year. That said, it's fun to see a team that many doubted had enough offense to compete in the Big Ten with the loss of JJ and Smooge come out and nearly roll up 100. It's even more fun to see that stifling defense has gone no where. It will still be the hallmark of this team. Couple it with an offense that hits at a ~45% rate and at ~50% from beyond the arc (and we know how money guys like Rob are from the FT line) and, well.... let's just say it could be fun.
I know I'm ready. Choo-choo, muthas.