|The love affair continues...|
The Boilers penetrated the Mountaineers and forced their will upon them. WVU was pinned down all game long and, at times, maybe they liked it just a little bit. The Boilers dominated and owned the Mountaineers, and the thrashing lasted for several hours. In the end, they parted ways with little more than a bro-hug.
Sorry, that was my best attempt at a 50 Shades of Gray passage. Which, given that I've never read them but have only heard about them from my wife, I think wasn't half-bad.
The Boilermakers certainly did have their way with WVU today in West Laffy, winning 79-52 in a game that actually wasn't even that close. The Boilers got up by as many as 32 (66-34 was what I noted as the high water mark) and quite simply did a lot very well today. They played good defense, they forced the Mountaineers into shots they didn't make, they shot the ball very well, they rebounded, they moved without the ball and they didn't let up... for a change, Purdue took a big lead at the half and made it even bigger in the second half.
We've talked before about the recipe being even simpler than we often think -- shoot the ball as well as or better than the other team, make your free throws, rebound the ball and don't turn it over too much. Those are -- obviously -- always keys, but making sure you do most of them better than your opponent will almost always lead to victories.
Today, the Boilers show a tidy 49.2% from the field (to WVU's dreadful 29.3%) and a blistering 73% from three (to WVU's sickly 17%). The Boilers outrebounded WVU 39-27 and out-assisted them 17-6. The Mountaineers had more steals than the Boilers (11-6) and turnovers were almost even at 17-16. From the line, Purdue seemed to regress slightly, shooting 62% to WVU's 75%.
Purdue had a 14 point lead at the half that they quickly extended to start the second stanza and the Boilermakers truly never looked back. Once the game was way out of hand, Coach Painter began giving lesser-used guys more minutes and ultimately emptied the bench at the end. Neal Beshears had a three attempt miss but Dru Anthrop drained his.
The Boilers did a nice job of spreading the scoring around today, with four players getting into double figures. Byrd led the way with 17 points on 5/8 from the field, 4/6 from three and 3/3 from the line. He also had five rebounds, four assists and a steal, if you're into that sort of complete game.
Raphael Davis continued to mature before our eyes and had 16 points on 5/6 shooting, including 2/2 from long range, and 4/6 from the line.
Anthony Johnson had 12 points off the bench on 5/9 shooting and 2/3 from the line, and Terone had 11 points on 5/9 shooting.
It wasn't all roses for the Boilers as AJ Hammons had an off-day, scoring just four points on 2/6 shooting from the field. He did contribute with five rebounds and three blocks, though. I'll chalk this up to the fact that Purdue's shooters were shooting and AJ's inside presence wasn't as needed today, but I hope to see him continue to clean up with 18-20 point games as we go through the Big Ten season.
There will be those who disparage this win for Purdue, since WVU is clearly not having a typical Bob Huggins type season. However, you play the games on your schedule and, like it or not, this is a team from a power conference. Purdue now has this decisive home court win to go along with their beatdown of Clemson in December and a win over a top 11 team in Illinois earlier this month. The Boilers are clearly growing up and playing better basketball together and it's something you can see every game. The confidence among these guys is also growing and it's enjoyable to watch. It might still be hard to dream of playing in the tourney, but Purdue is winning games this month that they would have lost last month and now even blowing teams out once in a while.
Next up, their toughest test yet, as the Boilers travel to Ann Arbor to play #5 Michigan.
Choo-choo. The train is coming.