Paint Crew and Purdue fans love Bobby "Buckets" Riddell. He walked-on as a Freshman and played a lot of minutes without a schollie as David Teague and Carl Landry recovered from injuries...but since that season, he hasn't played a whole bunch. Sure, he'd get in during garbage time, or grab a few minutes here and there, but really nothing too significant.
But tonight, the 5'8" (or so) Lafayette product lit up the Lions by hitting his first four shots; three of those being behind the arc. He ended the game with his career high 13 points (5-7 shooting) . Atop that, he had 4 assists, 2 rebounds, a block and a steal. Pretty solid line. But two other guys had good nights as well. First, another Senior, Nemmy, scored 14 points (4-6 shooting), 3 rebounds, an assist and a block. The other half of the twin towers probably had the best game...JJ continues to add wrinkles- long jumpers, turn-arounds, post hooks, and tonight a dribble-drive from outside of the arc. His double-double seemed effortless as he finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 assists.
The guy who, according to the box score, was quiet, but actually played a big role was LewJack. He was guarding Talor Battle for most of the contest...Battle finished 0-7 with 0 points...only 18.2 off of his norm. LewJack finished with only two steals, officially...but I counted three; and he was disruptive all game. He also had 5 assists (but 3 TOs)...I hope the Anti-LewJack Assn. (ALJA) can see that this guy is promising...and he's progressing each game. Just remember when you come around, that Boilerdowd will still be driving the LewJack bandwagon, and there's always room for more aboard this bus!
While Smooge didn't have the offensive explosion that I was anticipating, he did begin to shoot himself out of his slump, and finished with 10 points. Kramer shot the ball a lot, for him (4 times), and finished with 5 points...but most interestingly, he guarded Cornley in the second half (he only gives up 2 inches and 35 pounds on PSU's #2). Grant and Green were extremely quite; Green only played 7 minutes. Hopefully they both find ways to contribute when called upon, because they will both be needed during the stretch run.
Make no mistake, my fellow Purdue alums and friends, while Buckets' line is fun to talk about, team defense was the story in this game. We've seen Purdue really ratchet down on a few teams this season- Davidson, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and PSU, earlier tonight. Following two lackluster defensive games, Purdue returned to form and held the Lions to under 37% shooting; teams don't win too often shooting below 40%...and the magic number of 64 once again proved to be pertainent. When Purdue opponents score less than 64 points, Purdue's record is 18-0, this season.
This game is important for a lot of reasons- But the the biggest probably that it shows these guys that they can win without the Ostrich...something they desperately needed to do for their own psychee. I have no reason to believe we'll see Robbie playing in Iowa...so that means, he'll have rested for 17 days when Sparty comes to West Lafayette to face the new look Boilers...who knows if he'll play or how much, but I don't know how Painter's team can beat Izzo's squad without the services of Hummel.
Another important aspect of tonight's win is that it allowed the team to rest. An 8-man rotation was utilized, and the bench actually responded as Moore got in early foul trouble. And inspite of Purdue's normal extended man-to-man, no one seeme tired at the end of the game. Did anyone notice Purdue playing a type of zone defense tonight at the end of the first half? I know Painter doesn't like zone, but this switching man D closely resembled what I'd call zone.
Purdue hearts Iowa this coming Saturday at 4:05.