Boilers Spend First Half Adjusting to Time Change, Fall Short Despite Awakening in Second
Reports swirled last week that the Purdue basketball team was flying commercial – and coach – to Hawaii. Where you would put Isaac Haas and AJ Hammons in such a situation is the kind of thing where I wish Purdue had a savvy social media person on the plane to snap photos. Let’s hope they got bulkhead aisle seats. Perhaps the long flight and 9:30 AM local starting time contributed to the Boilers lack of energy in the first half today. They got out of the gate showing little fire and got pushed around early by Bruce Weber’s K-State crew, falling behind by 15 at the half (39-24).
However, something lit a fire under Purdue and after falling behind by as much as 20 (51-31) in the second, they
fought back and got the game to within five at 75-70 late. That was the closest the Boilers got, though, as a KSU bucket was followed by a Purdue traveling violation and the Wildcats put the game away. The final was 88-79 and it’s never good to lose, there were some bright spots for Purdue.
After that lackluster 24-point first half, the Boilers rolled up 55 in the second half, outscoring K-State by six and making a game that looked in danger of becoming an embarrassment into one where Bruce Weber’s squad showed they were a mentally-weak Bruce Weber squad and tightened up. This was one of those games where you felt like if it was five minutes longer, Purdue was going to win. It’s not often we’ve been able to say that about Purdue teams in recent years.
Kid Stephens continues to be the man. He scored 21 points, including 5/12 from beyond the arc, and kept chipping away at the Wildcat lead.
Jon Octeus was perfect (3/3) from the line and scored 12 while dishing out seven assists.
Isaac Haas showed he’s not only a young big man who can put up numbers against cruddy opponents. Big Ike went for 19 points off the bench on 7/9 shooting from the field and 2/3 from the line. (He’s scored in double digits in three of his four collegiate games now. Just saying.)
Purdue shot a lovely 54% from the field and an acceptable 70% from the line and, according to ESPN’s postgame, had only one turnover in the second half. Those are all good things.
As for…less bright spots?
AJ Hammons once again getting into foul trouble and winding up with only six points and two rebounds. I don’t know what can be done about this, but it seems like whenever AJ faces physical competition, he winds up in early foul trouble and is effectively taken out of the game. Good thing the Big Ten isn’t a physical conference! Oh, wait…
Only having seven offensive rebounds is not going to get it done. And when there are two seven footers in your stable, I’m not sure how this is even possible. The truth is, though, by shooting 54%, Purdue wasn’t missing as many shots as they might ordinarily, so maybe that contributed.
Purdue’s defense allowed 53% shooting, which is part of what makes it hard to win a game when you shoot well.
And getting pushed around a bit early didn’t help, either. Haas got into back-to-back rough plays in the second half with one resulting in a flagrant “headbutt” call against #44, but it seemed as though that was when the Boilers truly woke up and began fighting back.
Losses are never good, but I don’t think this one was chalked up as a win in too many people’s hypothetical books.
The Boilers next play on ESPN 2 tomorrow at 2 PM, Eastern, against the loser of the Arizona-Missouri game, which is nearing the end of the first half as I write this, with Arizona and their punchable-faced coach Sean Miller ahead.
Photo credits: Brian Spurlock, USA Today