Saturday, December 31, 2011

Purdue's strong start to second half leads them past Illinois

There were points in the first half where Purdue looked like it would lose this game. Not getting anything going offensively and D.J. Richardson hitting shots on the other end put Illinois up eight at one point. But some big threes by Smith, Hart and another by Barlow, sparked Purdue to lead at half by two.

The game at half had the feel of a grind-it-out Big Ten game with the score in the fifties.

But Purdue came out in the second half on a 32-7 run and blew the game wide open.

Some thoughts:

-What a great job by Purdue's frontline in making everything difficult for Meyers Leonard. And what about Travis Carroll. He guarded Leonard for most of the game and really frustrated him into bad fouls and a few mental mistakes with getting called for two three second calls.

-Purdue needed one of their three best players to step up in order to win this game. It might not seem like it with the final score, but without Smith hitting those threes in the first half, the outcome might be different. Smith  had 12 points, 4-5 from three with four rebounds. Lewis played fine, but you can tell he is not healthy. When he only plays 19 minutes, even though it was a blowout, there is something wrong. Hummel did not play well. He had only 5 points on 2-6 shooting. He did have 5 rebounds and three assists, however. But he needs to pick up his play. The bench can't carry Purdue every game.

-Speaking of the bench, what a game by them again. They matched their output at Iowa of 36 points for the second straight game. Another great game by D.J. Byrd. He had 9 points on 3-4 shooting with three assists. Terone Johnson was excellent. Had a big three in the second half that really got the crowd and bench fired up and had a great steal and dish to Kelsey Barlow for a dunk. Those two plays were big in getting everyone's emotions flowing.  As good as Carroll was defensively, he showed some good signs offensively. Knocked down a perimeter shot and finished around the rim with what seemed like more confidence. Obviously we need to get to a point where were not celebrating layups made by Carroll, but he looks to be more confident and that could be big for Purdue in the future. What an asset it is to have a bench like Purdue does. Today Purdue went on its huge run with mostly bench players on the floor. Usually when Jackson and Hummel are on the bench you should worry. Its almost like a boost, a chance given to our bench to prove what kind of players they really are.

-Free throws. Free throws. Free throws. 16-28 (57.1%). That is unacceptable for a Division I team but something Purdue fans have seen way too often this year. Terone needs to do something different. What he's doing right now is obviously not working. Change up your pre-shot routine (golfer talking here) with how many dribbles you take, how many looks at the rim, how many seconds you take. Do something. Geez, c'mon. He's not the only one, either. Anthony Johnson there is not way you should ever miss three of six free throws. He's around 50% for the year. Unacceptable.

-Didn't like how we got sloppy in the final ten minutes of this one. We were up 58-31with 9:15 left. Illinois then finishes the game on a 29-17 run. Obviously we were up so much and sometimes it is hard to concentrate and finish a game like this out, but that's not an excuse for a Matt Painter coached team. If Purdue wants to win games late, which it will have to do plenty of times this Big Ten season, they have to value end of games like these where they have big leads. No excuse to get sloppy. Finish the game. Run them out of the building. That should be their mindset.

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