Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bench boosts Boilers past Hawkeyes

In a game Purdue needed to have, it was the bench that stepped up and got the win.

With Robbie Hummel going 5-14 from the field, Lewis Jackson not looking quite like himself for long stretches of the game and Ryne Smith hitting just one three, the Purdue bench really saved the day.

Byrd provided a scoring spark for Purdue
The Purdue bench scored a remarkable 30 points in the first half Wednesday night.  It wasn't just one or two players, either. All five players off the bench scored at least four points and D.J. Bryd led the way with 14.

That's right, D.J. Byrd.

Someone who seemed to be buried at the end of the bench before the IPFW game due to an ailing injury and just non-production on the court, has seemingly done a complete 180 in the past week.

Byrd, who hit a couple threes in the first half, did a lot of his work off the bounce and attacking the rim. It was good to see Byrd creating off the dribble and not just settling for the outside shot, as he sometimes has the tendency to do.

The tendency for John Hart this year has also been to sit on the bench. Coming back from surgery and finding his way in a deep Purdue rotation has been difficult for Hart.
Hart's foot has been a career problem at Purdue

But he was given a chance by Matt Painter and took full advantage. What looked like a coaching moment for Painter, sitting freshman Anthony Johnson for an extended period of time, paved way for Hart to come up big.

Hart had 8 points (all in the first half) in just eleven minutes. He hit two big threes from the corner and had a smooth dribble drive step back.

The rest of the bench also contributed. Terone Johnson added 6 points, Anthony Johnson and Travis Carroll chipped in with 4.

A bench that totaled 36 points undoubtedly won this game for Purdue and it will have to be something Matt Painter can lean on this year during Big Ten play in order to compete with the best.

It will also have to be there when Purdue doesn't decide to show up on the defensive end, a common sight Wednesday night. The Hawkeyes shot over 47 percent from the field and for the most part were getting anything they wanted offensively.

With arguably Purdue's two best defenders lost to the NBA, the Boilers are not the defensive team they were a year ago, but with that said, they should not be struggling as much as they are.

Matt Painter prides himself on the defensive side and giving up 76 points to a mediocre Iowa team is not Purdue basketball.

The Bench saved the poor defensive performance in this one, but to expect the bench to produce like this every game is unrealistic. Look for Purdue to come out with a greater intensity on the defensive end against the Illini Saturday.

Next game: vs. Illinois, Dec. 31st.

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