It was really nice to be able to watch Purdue on a screen that was larger than my hand...but boy-oh-boy, does FCS have some work to do. But I'm happy I got to see it.
In the first half, our Boilers struggled offensively...nothing at all seemed to be working for the first 12 minutes or so, but a few good things happened as the half came to a close. The 8-to-9 point lead that the Hawks consistently held started shrinking as Kramer ran around with his head aflame...his defense was pretty monstrous and reminded everybody why he's so important. His defense led to offense as JJ and Hummel helped put Purdue in the lead as the half drew to a close.
This one reminded me a ton of a lot of the games we watched in '08. The offense was non-existent, but the defense was there...and it kind of felt like once the offense came along, Purdue would put the game away.
They did just that, very early in the second half. The one-point lead swelled quickly to a double-digit lead. JJ began getting a ton of the closest shot possible as he flushed time and time-again with authority. Johnson looked like the JJ of last season after an uncharacteristically-poor game versus SDSU and finished with a great-looking line-18pts, 10reb and 2 blocks (I actually counted 3).
At the same time, Ryne Smith began heating up and showed off his vastly-improved game. He flat-out was bombing as he took over in a three-minute stretch of the game...but with the good, came a few bad plays- he flopped a couple of times that were pretty horrible. If he's going to act, he'd better learn how to do it more convincing...because his poor theatrics got him a warning from the officials after an attempt to draw a charge- you don't see that too often. It was actually pretty reminiscent of a Duke player; not a good thing in my book. But, he didn't play a ton finishing with 16 points in 15 minutes...not shabby at all.
Purdue's lead got up to 29 points before Painter gave a ton of young guys and all the walk-ons 4:00 to play out the game.
I think it's clear that Byrd and Barlow are solidly-in the 8-man rotation and both display a ton of upside...but might not be completely-comfortable with their role, yet. But, I think they'll both find their niche soon.
This was a much more solid victory than Friday night, but Smooge, the Ostrich and Grant didn't seem to get into rhythm; the team can, and must do more offensively. Purdue just beat a team that was predicted to finish in the bottom-half of the A10...The next opponent has been predicted to do much better.
Tennessee struggled mightily with DePaul as the game was in contention right up until the clock hit 0:00. In their Friday night game, the Vols scored 100+, on Sunday evening, they couldn't reach 60.
My gut tells me that they'll struggle versus Purdue's defense and will get frustrated by the way Purdue keeps coming on that side of the court. I also like the fact that Hummel and Moore didn't play too well in the last game because those two don't stay down too long. Plus, outside of Smith, Purdue shot the three very poorly...I don't think that'll happen again tomorrow.
The two top-10 teams square off at 8:30pm tonight.