Tiny Boilerdowd got to see her first Purdue basketball game today and she brought home the victory. This was a Big Ten-style game- big bodies, physical basketball, horrible officiating, good defense and good shooting from deep. Here are a couple of things I took away from the game.
-Patrick Bade playing like everyone knew he could.
Bade played 20 very good minutes and only had one mistake that was of note. He filled space on defense while guarding some large bodies and on offense set some great picks and was active away from the ball. He finished with 2 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block. But really, the stats aren't important. What is paramount is that he was very important and to the rotation was prepared to play. Hats off, Patrick!
-JJ was JJ.
Johnson was bottled up for the first 7 minutes or so. But the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half were simply owned by 25. It's no coincidence that Purdue got the lead and put some space between themselves and the Gophers during this juncture. My favorite moment of the night was win JJ rebounded a missed shot deep in under the basket and put down and angry dunk. We love to see him when resolute...and at that point, he seemed pretty sick and tired of being beaten up by the Gophers bigs. At the 13 minute mark, JJ had 20 points. He ended up playing the full 40 minutes.
-Waking the sleeping Ryno.
Ryne Smith hadn't really 'gone off' for a few games, and this game started off as other recent contests had ended- with Smith just a bit off from long distance. But, the new Ryne Smith that Purdue fans have grown accustomed to, doesnt' let a couple of missed shots keep him from affecting the game. After the cold start, he hit three straight and helped put the game out of reach for our Boilers. Atop of 15 points, he grabbed 4 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and 0 turnovers. Plus, he guarded Blake Hoffarber for much of the night and kept him from doing what he did to the Boilers in Minneapolis.
I got to talk to Ryne after the game and he told me that this game was the first, in high school or college, in which he pulled himself out. After the game, he told me he felt, "a little beaten up."
Relentless high screens by Minnesota's bigs, three officials who refused to blow their whistles and Minnesota's guards running curl after curl after curl around the arch all contributed to Smith's post-game condition.
LewJack is one of the many good guys on Purdue's team who took time to talk to LBD after the game
Tubby thought that if he took away the driving lanes from Lew, he'd be rendered ineffective. Guess not. As Minny's guards shaded off of Jackson, he made them pay. After hitting three-straight threes, he cooled a bit, but the game was already changed as his hot shooting softened up the Gophers' zone so JJ could take over. LewJack finished with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal.
-Smooge struggles a bit.
E'Twaun Moore didn't play like I thought he might coming into the game. With Nolen out, I thought Purdue's guards would have more opportunity to get free. But as Smooge (and others) drove, especially deep into the zone, the officials simply wouldn't send the Boilers to the fould line.
He got some good looks from outside too, but ended up shooting 3-13 from the field. But, as always, when his shot's not falling, he still does damage. He tied JJ for the team-high 7 rebounds, had 3 assists and 2 blocked shots, on the defensive side of the court.
DJ Byrd knocked down a few big threes after figuring out how to create space. Minnesota's Mbakwe chased him out on the wings and made him think twice on more than one occasion. He started the game as Matty went big from the get-go (Jackson, Moore, Byrd, Johnson, Carroll). The Byrdman finished with 6 points, 3 assists in 17 minutes.
Carroll didn't have a ton of production (sorry J). But, he had a resolute drop step into the lane early in the game that was very impressive...and might be a glimpse of what we'll see in coming seasons.
Barlow had a couple of rebounds and assists...but pestered Minnesota's guards in the 10 minutes he was in the game. And TJohn finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds and an assist in a quiet 11 minutes.
In spite of losing Nolen two games ago, Minnesota looked pretty good, even short-handed. The Smiths (Tubby and Saul) had the Gophers playing well and used their size play a brutally-tough packed zone early in the game. Perhaps they ran out of gas, but regardless of why they couldn't stay with Purdue the stretch, Matty and Co. owed them one (or two) and this win was important. It also helped the team put the aOSU collapse behind them.
Two really important stats are that the Boilers shot free throws well (77%) and won the rebounding battle for the first time in a few games (35-30).
Next up, Purdue plays at Wisconsin in three days. Ryan will have them ready to play as they're coming off of a close loss to PSU.
Nation's Elite Struggling
Here are the teams in front of Purdue that have also lost in the last week:
Pittsburgh, San Diego State, UConn, Villanova, Syracuse (twice) and BYU.
Plus, Texas and Mizzou play later tonight...so one of them also has to lose. That means (including Purdue), 9 of the top-13 teams in the land will have lost by the end of this evening. Six of those losses came today.
Purdue's Computer Composite Ranking was 11th at the start of the day. Who knows what it will be tomorrow. But our Boilers might have picked a pretty good week to lose in the fashion they did (if there can be such a week). We'll see on Monday afternoon.