Boilers Finish Mountaineers off for Big Win
Let's all be honest- the good guys really needed that one...and a lot of the reasons that was a win were probably things that Painter has been harping on for the last few weeks.
Purdue needed two good halves of basketball in which they held a lead and just played solid basketball. They got that in one of the toughest venues in America. Sure, the students were on break, and that matters, but a road game at WVU is a good win.
The Brothers Johnson have had a propensity for dribbling themselves into trouble, especially during the last five or six games. Today, especially down the stretch, both Terone and Ronnie made big plays when double-teamed that all but guaranteed the win. Both involved finding the open man on backdoor cuts.
Purdue by no means was flawless today...BUT, the defense was stiff when it needed to be. When the game got a bit closer than it needed to be in the closing five minutes, Purdue's defense came through and the Boilers cleaned the defensive glass. Purdue also held one of the best three point shooting teams in the nation to just 16.7% from deep.
Making big shots.
Carter, TJohn and Stephens all had important three pointers in this game. I still think the shot selection can be better, and (of course), the Johnsons can help the cause by thinking before they leave their feet...but today was better.
Still work to be done...
Terone and Ronnie, in spite of playing solidly in the second half, missed some free throws that coulda bitten the Boilers. My brother has called Purdue "One-for-two U" for the last few years...and down the stretch, they lived up to the ill-gotten nickname, sadly.
The fact is this: until the Johnsons figure out how to make free throws in close game, they'll be regarded as liabilities in close games. That's too bad since Purdue needs them to play and to do it well.
As a team, Purdue shot a typical, but still-shabby 61.5% from the stripe. Good teams don't leave 10 points on the floor...that could be why so many of Purdue's faithful see this team as questionable and a work-in-progress.
TJohn matched his season high in scoring (v. Butler) with 20 points...but, I'd bet Painter was even happier with his 6 rebounds and just one turnover. His brother was second-leading scorer with 14points, 5rebs and 4ast. (2 TOs).
Purdue had yet another starting line-up...one that I don't think we'll see too often this season. This one included Travis Carroll, who played solidly for 17 minutes as Jay Simpson only played two minutes. RayDay also was in the starting line-up as Painter seems to be trying to knock Davis out of his shooting funk...Davis reacted by not shooting at all.
Hammons was pretty solid off of the bench with 6 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks in 21 minutes of play. He demanded double and triple teams and was actually found in the blocks during this game from time-to-time by RonJohn.
Purdue won this game because it played poised and the effort was consistent...now, if this team can hit FTs, you might have a team that can get into the tournament; but there is still plenty of room for growth.
The computers had WVU someplace between 70 and 90 (depending on the poll)...and most of those predictors had Purdue dropping this game. So while this might not be a "quality win" right now, it was very important as Purdue really needed it following the loss to Butler a week ago. Purdue will probably be in the 70s according to most of the computer polls in the coming days.
After a nine day Christmas break, Purdue will host aOSU, who is coming off of a come-from-behind victory over Notre Dame. As usual, the 'Nuts are chocked-full of talent and Aaron Craft continues to be a tough match-up in his 15th season in Columbus.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!!