Winning is Fun: Boilermakers Too Much For Guy Named Howard
As though Purdue wasn’t already going to be the favorite tonight, Howard was playing their fifth game in ten days and had endless injuries. The game began without 63% of the Bison’s scoring, including 28 ppg guard James Daniel. However, the Bison played hard for the early going, with the score at 12-11 early. Then Purdue went on a run…..for basically the rest of the night. The Boilers led by 20 less than 12 minutes into the game, by 25 about 14 minutes in, and by 30 about 16 minutes in – that’s with four minutes remaining in the first half. Howard went from the 12 minute remaining mark of the first half until 2 ½ remaining in between field goals. That’s…. how you say…. Not good.
The lead ballooned to over 40 in the second half but wound up 93-55, as the Boilers attention seemed to wane a bit in the second half. Not that they looked sloppy, but the crispness was lessened, likely because it’s hard to keep your foot on the gas against an overmatched, injured opponent you’re already pounding by over 30.
There was a lot to like tonight, though, even though it’s one of those games you’re “supposed” to win.
Player of the Game
Unequivocally, this was Caleb Swanigan. In perhaps his most complete game of the season, Biggie had another double-double, with 19 points and 12 boards. He shot 70% (7/10) from the floor, 67% (2/3) from three and 75% (3/4) from the line. As I watched him dominate all over the place, I just kept thinking that he’s so dangerous… how are teams supposed to guard him if he’s also going to hit threes?
Caleb also made up a name for Pete’s hammer during his postgame interview, calling it the “Play Hard Hammer.” Fine with us.
What else did I like?
Everything. There was almost nothing to dislike tonight. But let’s go through a few things.
Ray Davis returned and it couldn’t have gone better. Ray had ten points on 4/8 shooting, including 2/4 from three. He also was on the oop end of an alley-oop and the knee seemed to be working. If today was any indication, it appears the caution Purdue exercised with having him sit as long as they did was just that – caution. And that’s something we’re definitely fine with.
Kendall Stephens is back. Kid scored 14 off the bench on 5/10 shooting, including 4/9 from deep. He also had three rebounds and no turnovers. It seems Purdue fans are quick to turn on Stephens when he has a poor shooting night, but that’s who he is, guys. He’s a launching pad and he’s gonna launch treys. Some nights they won’t be falling. What I’ve seen so far this year is Matt Painter coaching him up and knowing when to make changes.
Speaking of shooting at Purdue, I keep coming back to this thought when it comes to Purdue’s prospects this season… what is the likelihood that Stephens, Mathias, Vince, Ray David and Cline will all be cold in a game? Seems unlikely. And when a team does shut down a couple of them, Purdue just keeps bringing guys off the bench. Oh, and even if they are all off… Purdue still has the best center pair in the nation.
I’ve heard comments about how teams that can run and spread it out might hurt Purdue “because of their size” and we’ll definitely see if that’s true, but as of right now, I don’t see Purdue as some plodding, one-dimensional team. They can get out and run, too, as evidenced by…
Vince being silky. He had three buckets in four possessions in the first half at one point. The first was a head fake to get his defender into the air, at which point Vince stepped around him and drilled a 15 footer. Then after an AJ basket, he bombed a three. On the very next possession, Edwards led a break down the right side and took it in for the jam. Aneesh had to be swooning at this point. He finished with 7 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds.
Chemistry. As Aneesh pointed out, the chemistry between Haas and Swanigan is so fun to watch. While sometimes Haas would forget his arms and legs for games last year, he now has a slick passing game going with Biggie. And hey, that’s a sophomore and a freshman (shut up, let me pretend they’re staying for four years).
The big men didn’t need to produce a ton tonight. It’s good to get your guys a half-rest in a blowout game and that’s kind of what happened here. AJ was 3/7 for 7 points and 9 rebounds. Haas was 4/9 for 9 points and 3 rebounds.
Howard was showing those signs of being ready to go home in the first half. Lazy defense, poor or nonexistent rotations, leaving sharpshooters like Cline wide open. It was pretty ugly basketball from the depleted Bison.
In fact, eventually they decided they simply weren’t even going to try to get any offensive rebounds when shooting free throws. It was the oddest thing – they played a scheme like they were up 8 or 10 and didn’t want to allow Purdue any quick, easy buckets or something. Like you see late in a March tourney game. An example can be seen in our tweet of the night:
— Clinton Cole (@cdcole55) December 10, 2015
“Ah, screw it. What’s coach gonna do to us?”
Purdue continues its busy week with another tune up against Youngstown State on Saturday. That is then followed by a week off before shizz gets real with Butler in the Crossroads, followed by Vandy and then the Big Ten season.