Purdue notched their 5th straight Big Ten/ACC challenge victory against Boston College, 88-67 tonight, according to the Cliz and Rob Blackmon, that is tied for the longest streak since the inception of the challenge. As far the challenge it ended in a tie for the second straight season, no Donovan, there is not another overtime.
Purdue looked good right out of the gate against BC. Although the rebounding was atrocious at the beginning of the game (it was 3-10 at one point), the Boilermakers bounced back to win the rebounding margin and ultimately the game.
If you missed the game tonight you missed the best overall performance from this squad all season. There was energy on the court and more hustle plays than many of the previous games. The freshmen once again played like a unit led by Jay Simpson who had a phenomenal game. Playing only 17 minutes Simpson had 8 points, 8 rebounds (5 offensive), 1 assist, 1 steal and a block. That is getting it done.
The kid, Kendall Stephens could have had a special night tonight, but early foul trouble ultimately led to the bombing young blood to only 10 minutes, which he made 3-3 three pointers for 11 points. This kid is special. When Stephens hit the third three I looked over to the great 3’Twaun Moore in the crowd and saw him smiling and nodding his head in approval. If he can continue to stroke it like this, Stephens will surpass Smooge’s record.
Basil Smotherman got the start again today as well. I like this move for Purdue. Peck provides leadership and great defense, but there is just a certain energy you get when Stephens, Smotherman and Simpson are on the floor together. Basil threw down another one-handed monster tonight that put the crowd into a frenzy.
Hammons played a very energized game tonight although his stat line didn’t show it. He finished with 20 minutes of playing time; he was 3-4 from the field for 7 points, recorded 3 blocks, 3 assists and 8 rebounds. I ripped Hammons on Twitter during pregame for standing in the corner and popping three pointers throughout the session. I guess Painter had the same opinion because when AJ fired one late in the game I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head from screaming, “DO YOUR JOB,” along with some other choice words. Painter even met his 7-foot sophomore at half court at the beginning of the timeout to rip him one. That moment being forgotten though, I liked Hammons effort in the post tonight, there is still some work to do but getting double-teamed constantly I thought he did a good job dishing the ball out to the perimeter instead of throwing up stupid shots.
The brother Johnsons had a good game as well. Ronnie was doing a great job getting the offense into transition and Terone made some great moves to get to the hoop for lay-ups. Terone had 18 tonight and Ronnie had 15 points and 6 assists. Although some of the shots they took were questionable, I thought the two Johnsons played a decent game.
Finally to Raphael Davis, I think Davis has been an unsung hero on this squad this season. His numbers have not been great, but he’s been the one hustling and scrapping for every inch when he is on the court. He throws 100 percent effort into everything he does and tonight was no different. He finished with 6 points on 3 shots, 6 boards and 5 assists.
Purdue did a good job at defending tonight as well despite a tightly officiated contest. Holding BC to only 7 of 27 three pointers was a key in this one, but what won Purdue this game was the effort and playing as a team. The passing on this young team amazes me and the potential on the floor is so much fun to watch. This team is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the next few seasons. The future is bright in Mackey Arena and if Painter can develop this talent this team could be dangerous.
The Boilers are back in action on Saturday against EMU in Mackey Arena. I know it’s hard to get pumped to play a directional school but need I remind you that EMU beat Purdue 47 to 44 last season, holding the Boilermakers to just 29 percent from the field with the zone. EMU is a having a decent season this year with their only two losses coming to Kentucky and UMass both ranked teams. It will be important to have a lot of energy in Mackey Arena for this one. Tickets are currently $2.50 online so grab a ticket and show up.