It was intense...exciting...nerve-wracking at times...unexpected and frantic. No, I'm not talking about the game, I'm talking about my battle with the buffalo chicken wrap I had eaten for lunch. I gave 110%, dug deep and soldiered on and was able to play through the lower-intestinal pain I was experiencing...and in the end, I helped our Boilers earn the victory. Even the super-low definition picture provided by EsPN U & Comcast couldn't keep me from losing focus on the goal.
The Paint Crew-less Mackey Arena was as "up" as could be expected prior to the SIUE Cougars visit to Mackey Arena earlier this evening. According to one line, the Boilers were favored by over 40...and many didn't think Purdue's starters would get much work. In spite of SIUE's #350 RPI ranking, that wasn't really the case.
SIUE's shooting kept the game close for much of the first half, particularly Yelovich's shooting. He and his teammate McCleary ended up a combined 8-of-9 from 20 ft. 9 in. But they had no answer for JJ. With a single-digit lead Johnson blocked a shot, made a very-high percentage shot, on the offensive end, then changed another shot had a key rebound. The Cougars couldn't really answer his length and always seemed to be aware of JJ's presence in the lane. He ended with 3 steals, 4 blocks, 6 reb. and 16 pts.
They also didn't have an answer for Kramer's intensity. Kramer did what he does- dove for balls, frustrated ball handlers and blocked a few shots. He finished with 5ast, 5reb, 2blk, 2stl and 4pts.
One of the real positives of the game, specifically the first half was KG's three point shooting. He hit two in a row early and ended up going 3-for-6 from behind the arc. He had 13 points in the game. Smooge had a quiet 15 shooting just under 50%...and the Ostrich shot very poorly finishing under 25% from the field with 12 points. He took a few shots to the head- one diving for a loose ball as he banged heads with an SIUE player and another across the nose/mouth on a drive. I don't know if he was ever really "right" after the first blow to the head...but he played significant minutes after that, and shot very poorly.
Of the non-starters, Bade played his best game as a Boiler- he shot well from just inside the 3-point line and pulled down a slew of boards. He finished with 10 points, 8 reb. and 2 blks. I also liked the way Barlow played- especially in the second half. Particularly, he finished a fast break with a dunk that really showed his athleticism and length. He continues to impress.
This Purdue team did what we all expected them to do- beat a bad team soundly. But, in spite of some dead-eye shooting by the Cougars, Purdue never allowed their over-matched opponent to get inside a double-digit lead in the second half. One recurring concern I have is Hummel's shooting from behind the three-point line. While his FG % stays steady from '08/'09, he's making 8% less of his shots from outside of 20ft. 9in. He tends to play bigger in bigger games...so maybe the conference schedule and the large contest v. WVU will get his shooting back to where it's been in previous seasons.
After a one-week break, our Boilers visit Iowa...we'll have a guest-writer doing the wrap-up. Thanks to everyone who expressed interest in doing so.