On Saturday morning/afternoon, the Boilermakers showed what their defense is capable of, in a 64-38 win over Central Michigan. It's nice to win a game by 26 points. It's even nicer when you can get your younger guys more and more minutes that will be very valuable as the season wears on, both from the experience perspective as well as in terms of keeping the big guns well-rested. And it's awesome when your defense can hold a team to 14 points in the first half and less than 40 overall.
38 points? Mercy! Coach Dale wants you to pass four times before you shoot, boys!
On another positive note, the Boilermakers won the rebounding battle, 31-22, which is good even if it was against a lesser opponent. The Chips, to their credit, played hard to the final buzzer, with pileups and rough, floor-burn play happening even in the final two minutes. Also fun to see was the Purdue reserves continuing to work for the good shot and nailing good shots -- threes -- in the final minutes.
Rob Hummel only had 11 points, but he went for a double-double with 11 boards as well. I'll take that now, but we're going to need some point outbursts as the season wears on. However, if they're going to play shutdown defense, 60-70 points will be plenty to win most nights.
Moore and Grant combined for 25 points on 50% shooting from the field and a perfect 8-for-8 from the line. Solid, all-around team play got it done today.
One thing I wasn't thrilled with was seeing Kelsey Barlow manage to foul out of the game in just 19 minutes of play. He also led the team in turnovers with five, while only scoring two points. Kind of a weird game for him. We're definitely going to need more contribution than that moving forward, but I tend to think it was just one of those days for Barlow and he'll be fine.
On the subject of fouls, here's an interesting tidbit: The starters combined for four total fouls (two on Kramer, two on Moore), while the reserves had thirteen personal fouls. Again, livable for today, but when it comes to needing these guys to step in when one or more of the starters get into foul trouble, getting yourself into foul trouble as a reserve player isn't an ideal situation. But yes, it's a good thing that I have to look for things to nit-pick about.
And just a few more fun statistics from the game, because I often find statistics to be very telling, Purdue shot a modest 46% from the field, but hammered home free throws at a 95% clip. As always, you can win or lose the game from the line. Free throws in Big Ten play will be of paramount importance.
Back to the defense for a minute, CMU shot only 28% from the field, an atrocious number that I hope Purdue's defense can approach against other squads as well.
A final thought -- isn't it nice to have a team that you know is going to win these games? I'm not getting cocky by any stretch since, yes, it was Central Michigan. But in past years, sometimes Purdue has a hard time staying focused. Sure, that will definitely happen again at times this year, but so far they've been on their game for most of every game they've played. Getting up for Tennessee, while also being up for Cal State Northridge is huge, in my opinion. These guys are ready for the season and they look solid. The next big test is Tuesday night against Wake Forest. Let's hope the entire Big Ten comes to play this week so we can shut up the ACC supporters and anti-Big Ten mouths.