One Day Makes a Big Difference in Maui for the Good Guys
22 hours ago, Purdue played a flat brand of basketball that put them in a hole which they couldn't dig themselves out of. Today, Purdue came out motivated and knocked Mizzou on its heels from the jump. Hammons got in early foul trouble again, but Purdue's turnover disease didn't really rear its ugly head until about midway through the second half. By the time the the Boilers were rotating too slowly on Mizzou's three pointers and throwing errant passes, the lead for Purdue was massive. At the half, it was a 25 point lead (their largest against a DI opponent since 2000)...it swelled into the 30s a few minutes into the second half...and even a big 18-4 run in Missouri's favor only cut the deficit to 19. After that point, RayDay and company put on a free throw clinic...and put the game on ice. Along with Davis' big game, Hammons finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. A host of Boilers finished with 6 or more points.
Davis finished with 22 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals...but he did his work on the free throw line as he went 14-18 from there. Hammons went 6-6, Thompson was 5-6, Edwards 4-4, as was Prime. The only Boiler who shot FTs like last season, was Haas, who went 0-5.
The depth of this team will be its strength this season, even as the rotations tighten up. When Hammons got into trouble, the 7'2", ultra-aggressive big, Haas came in and pulled down 8 rebounds. When Stephens got into foul trouble after hitting a few threes, Mathias came in to spell him and hit a few from long range as well.
It seems if this Boiler squad has its collective head screwed on straight, they'll be able to make some noise this season...but as we saw yesterday, the jet-lagged, mentally-sluggish Boilers simply aren't talented enough yet to sleepwalk their way to competitive basketball. There's talent on this team...but the youth will define them as much as their talent for a big chunk of the pre-conference season.
One really heartening aspect of today's game was the re-appearance of Basil Smotherman. B Smoothe didn't play much the last few games. In fact, he had seemed to slip to about 10th or 11th in the rotation. But, solid defense, smart, efficient play and a few fast break dunks made him stick out. 4 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and a drawn charge were spark plugs that the team needed as the game teetered between an ugly blowout and a sound beating for Missouri.
The effort for this team, specifically in the pursuit of loose balls, is different than last year; and it's not limited to just Smotherman. Perhaps...perhaps...this team actually understands that they're not talented enough or experienced enough to win 20 games without completely selling out.
Yesterday evening, it looked very possible for Purdue to end this trip 1-2...now, leaving with two wins and a little momentum feels likely. Tomorrow, they'll play the winner of BYU v. Chaminade at 5pm before taking a six day break. They'll host NCState in the B1G/ACC challenge on December 2nd. The Wolfpack are the best team Purdue plays until the B1G season (51).
One residue of today's game is that I can watch feast week on EsPN, and actually enjoy it (at least for 24 hours) as Purdue highlights are sprinkled throughout the telecast...something we haven't gotten to enjoy too much in the last few seasons.
Good win today; Mizzou falls 82-61...in a game that was never in doubt.