I watched Purdue's game this afternoon in Puerto Rico versus Temple...and later, saw highlights of the game and the score on EsPN. The really funny thing about the coverage is that it didn't seem to match the scoreboard.
The Forces of Good beat the Temple Owls 85-77 in a wild game in which Purdue showed some defense (unlike the last contest). But the defensive prowess that has struck fear into Boiler opponents over the last few seasons is not on par with the offense...but the good news is the offense seems pretty formidable, and has shown plenty of different weapons thus far.
Today, it was LewJack's turn to lead the way, but it didn't start off that way.
The always lousy, Doug Gottlieb, started the game noting that Jackson would struggle against the large Temple guards...and he wasn't very effective on the offensive end...for a half.
But the Little Man's disease that Lewis (and I) have suffered through our entire lives woke him up in the the second half, and he went crazy. Not only was he effective on the drive, which we're accustomed to, but he also created his shot well from the mid-range with mastery and had a couple fade-aways with defenders in his face that were beauteous. When the game was over, Jackson had 26 points, hit 10 of 11 fieldgoals (I believe all were in the second half), along with three assists and a steal. His previous career high was 19.
Big Shot Rob was solid, but quiet once again- had 20 points (one below his season average) but only had a handful of points in the second half seemingly giving the floor to the hot-handed Jackson. He also got back on track from the free throw line, going 6-6...along with six rebounds.
Purdue had the lead for much of the game, but wasn't able to put a ton of space between themselves and the Owls...and when the lead would flex to 7 or 8 points, Temple would fight their way back into the game, but the competitive nature of the game wasn't what made the game riveting.
In the first half, the refs were letting the teams play and not using their whistles a whole lot. But when Ryne Smith received an elbow that landed on the throat and chin from a Temple forward, the officials changed their style for the next half. The result was a second half that left both teams at the free throw time and time again. And what was the bugaboo for Matty's squad in the last couple games was a saving grace in this one. Purdue went 24 for 25 from the stripe in the second half after going 3 for 8 in the first.
Kelsey Barlow got involved in the whistle-happy action (predictably). After Temple guard, Fernandez fouled Barlow (his fourth foul), Barlow threw the ball into Fernandez's chest, so he returned the favor. It earned both a technical foul...subsequently, Fernandez's fifth foul.
Minutes later, Temple's starting center also fouled out and it looked like Purdue would win going away...but Temple's Moore kept it close by scoring as Purdue guards couldn't deter him down the stretch.
In spite of Moore's game-high 27 point, the good guys will be playing Bama ('banana') or Witchita State on Sunday night at 8:00 pm on EsPN2.
I know the nation doesn't really doesn't care about lil' ole Purdue...and Purdue is surely damned if they lose, but still damned if they don't win with enough style to please the pundits. But I like some of what I'm seeing and think progress is being made. We've said it since last Spring- this team will be good this season, but has a lot of learning to do in the coming weeks and months. And right now, I think they're doing just that.