Sparty was prepared for a tough road game in Mackey tonight, and stuck tight with Purdue into the second half. But, as Purdue's guards extended, and JJ continued to alter shots, MSU was simply blown out of the water by Purdue's defensive pressure in an important BT contest. The atmosphere was hostile and loud...even some of the old guys got involved in making noise.
But sadly, some jackhole in row 16, Sec. 16 didn't like me standing up during different times of the game...and he was a Purdue fan.
Please note, I'm 5'4" (so wasn't blocking anyone's view)...wasn't cursing...and wasn't puting down any MSU players. This guy kept saying sit down. This of course forced me to stand up for the next three minutes. Then as the game got further out of hand, I turned around and asked him if it was OK that everyone in our section was standing. This jerk is what is wrong with Purdue sports. He's a microcosm for all of the small-time, unenthusiastic numb-nutted gold coats in the lower bowl that have to be all but begged to cheer, and even worse, don't like it when others are cheering, even in big games. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. There need to be more Paint Crew members in the lower half of my alma mater's basketball arena. Sorry for the sidebar, but this garbage infuriates me.
Paint Crew- EXCELLENT JOB! Everything from riding the worst three officials in all of the land, to ripping up IU when the opportunity presented itself- you guys were loud and in the game. And speaking of those horrible officials, my brothers and I were yelling at Jim Burr after missing a series of reach-in fouls early in the first half. Not only did he not ignore us, he made a chatting hand signal toward us...Dude is a pro, huh! That's a joke, to me that an official would acknowledge the crowd during a contest, but he's a joke. Half of the game he was making stupidly-large signals for violations, the other half, it looked like he was late for his bed time.
And Valentine and Hightower were no better...and probably were worse (as our pal Boilergal pointed out). The hand signals that we all have come to know for traveling, reach in, over the back and other calls are all out...they've been replaced with jumping around, running and pointing to a spot on the floor or a player (as if you're angry at him) or making a hugging motion or something else non-sensical. There was a period in the early second half where they called 4 personal fouls on Purdue, in a :50 period...two on Moore. They were ticky-tack to say the least, and were simply lousy...But these three stooges, in spite of their best efforts, weren't the story tonight. Defense was.
From the get-go, both Purdue and MSU were contesting every pass, drive and shot. And, from the low-angle from where I was watching, it was clear there weren't going to be a ton of fouls called. Both teams were grabbing, slapping and holding to make it difficult...it was physical- exactly what you'd expect from these teams and their coaches. And MSU, unlike Purdue in the early going, took advantage of free throw opportunities.
Not only was Purdue missing foul shots, our Boilers offense was pretty inept for the first 15 minutes or so. Outside of Hummel, not too much was working offensively. This trend changed in the second half as Jackson, Kramer and Grant started creating easy offensive opportunities by stifling the Spartans just as they started to run their offense. After that, Johnson's footwork couldn't be matched by Green, Gray or Suton. Johnson continues to look like an all-conference player.
The Ostrich showed signs of life as well as part of his game returned to form after a lousy showing in Iowa. He hit two three pointers and had two more go in and out...and on his first attempt, he was physically violated, and the refs didn't seem to notice the molestation. Hopefully, he can take it easy this Saturday. Grant played like he did last year as he shot 50% from behind the three point line. Atta boy, KG! Clearly, he's sick of hearing me ask the question, "where's the old Keaton?" Kramer was Kramer defensively, but had a couple of blocked shots that were impressive to me. Nemmy played well, but shot two three pointers in the first half...one nearly missed the rim. Green played the game that I like to see him play- gritty, hard-nosed and with the defense-first mentality that makes this team tick. Lewis Jackson played at a fast paced on both sides of the court, and much to the chagrin of the ALJA, seemed to make everybody better...all while throwing up during his time on the bench as the flu that everyone else has had has made its way into LewJack's system. And finally, Smooge shot well, played good defense and rebounded very well...he had too many turnovers, but his silky-smooth game seemed to be a tough match-up for the Spartans.
In the closing minutes, Buckets and the reserve brigade was on the court. After Bobby broke the ankles of a back-up Spartan guard, he hit a 20 footer (long two pointer, not a three). At that point, Izzo pointed to his starters on the bench and said, "Remember this!"
I like Izzo, because like me, he's passionate and short and likes basketball a whole lot...but he's too good of a coach to believe that shot was offensive...further, this Spartan team shouldn't need any more motivation as Purdue goes to East Lansing in two and a half weeks. (Thanks to the Big Ten for this "random" scheduling, by the way)
Both Chris Kramer and Robbie Hummel set up for a charge in the second half, and the officials made the call in favor of Purdue...with both Purdue players on the ground, the three remaining Purdue players came and helped their team mates up from the ground.
-MSU has the largest rebounding advantage per game at 10+...tonight, they won this battle again, by just 5.
-Purdue is now 20-0 when holding their opponent to 64-or-less points in this season.
-Purdue's defense made yet another good team look lousy as Sparty shot 32.7% and had 22 turnovers.
-As a team, Purdue continues to shoot the three poorly...but they keep shooting; good, I guess.
-This is the first victory versus a top-5 opponent at Purdue since I was in high school (and Matt Painter was still a player in West Lafayette)...1992, for those of you who don't own my book. While it's good that this streak has been broken, that stat is still shocking to me. Hopefully, they won't go another 16 years until the next win of this genre.
You probably couldn't appreciate it on TV, but Erin Andrews was wearing pants and high heels that made it look like she was a naughty kitty cat. Sure, she had her standard weird shirt on...but she is stunning in person. This year, I didn't get to talk to her after the game as she raced off of Mackey's floor, but my section was only about 20 feet from her post...close enough to watch her work. You've heard me say it before, she's a tireless in-game reporter who is constantly pouring over her notes and stats.
While I didn't get to hear it, some friends of mine have told me that Vitale sounded pretty awful tonight. Well, he didn't look any better. Hopefully his health isn't poor, but judging by the way he moved around off camera, I'd think otherwise. I am glad I didn't have to listen to him on the TV though.
The Forehead and Co. come to Mackey on Saturday to square off at 2:00 in the afternoon...It'll be televised on BTN. Special thanks to the Big Ten's awesome scheduling that keeps Purdue from playing IU twice in one season, for the second-consecutive year.