Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wednesday Morning Shootaround: Purdue Crushes Michigan State to Move a Game Back in the Big Ten

Purdue was a trendy preseason pick to win the Big Ten and reach the Final Four. Why? Because they came out of nowhere to win 25 games and finish second in the Big Ten with a bunch of freshman.

But the Boilermakers have been far from the team many people thought they would be this year. A big reason is injuries. Robbie Hummel (the preseason Big Ten player of the year) has a stress fracture in his back; Chris Kramer (last season's defensive player of the year) has a broken nose and missed some action with a bum ankle; Lewis Jackson missed a game due to a concussion.

Robbie Hummel fought through pain to score 11 against MSU.
(Photo Credit:

The Boilermakers were as close to full strength as they have been in a long time last night, and it showed as they dominated the Michigan State Spartans, especially in the second half, en route to a 72-54 win. It moved Purdue to within a game of the Spartans atop the Big Ten.

As you should come to expect with this Purdue team, they won with defense. MSU is a good (not great without a healthy Raymar Morgan) offensive team, and Purdue completely shut the Spartans down. On the game, MSU shot 33% from the field (2-8 from three), turned the ball over 22 times, and had 8 shots blocked. They were able to hang around in the first half thanks to offensive rebounding (9) and forcing turnovers (10), but Purdue started to click early in the second half, hitting open shots and turning the MSU turnovers into easy baskets.

The Boilermakers put this game away early in the second half. It started with a 7-0 run out of the break, capped by a E'Twaun Moore three, which pushed the lead to 33-23. After opening a 48-32 cushion, the Spartans came back by scoring seven straight. But a 7-2 run by Purdue in response, which was ended by a Keaton Grant three-ball, gave the Boilermakers a commanding 55-41 lead with under 10 minutes left.

JaJuan Johnson, who is slowly turning into a star, had 17 points to lead Purdue while Robbie Hummel added 11. Kalin Lucas had 14, but was just 2-11 from the floor.

Michigan State should still be in line for a #2 seed (and could snag a #1 if things go right). They have five losses this season, and all of them have come when they are at less than 100% (two early on without Goran Suton, the last three coming in recent weeks when MSU has had a very limited Raymar Morgan. The bottom line is that this team is good, is going to be better when they get to full strength and hit their stride, and is coached by Tom Izzo. Keep then (strongly) in mind when you fill in those brackets in a month.

The rest of last night's hoops:
  • Clemson 93, Maryland 64: Clemson started the second half with a 39-17 run, in which they hit five three's, to blow open a close game at the half. Trevor Booker finished with 11 points and 14 boards, but he was a much bigger factor than his numbers indicate. Booker, who is one of the more underrated forwards in the country, is turning into quite a play maker for the Tigers. He made two of three fantastic plays to create turnovers last night, he was able to pass out of double teams (can anyone find a video of the no-look pass he threw to Rivers? That was sick), and he is a good enough athlete to makes plays like this:

  • Marquette 79, Seton Hall 67: Marquette used a 16-3 run early in the second half to slow down a hot shooting Pirate team, who led by 3 at the half. Marquette can clearly put up points (that is what happens when Dominic James, a career 14 ppg gut, is your fourth leading scorer), but when they are playing defense and forcing turnovers is when they are the most dangerous. Last night, the Eagles forced 23 turnovers, with 16 coming off of steals. James had 7 steals (and 4 blocks?) and Jerel McNeal added 5 steals, but the also combined to go 8-24 from the floor and commit 14 turnovers. Wesley Matthews led all scorers with 24.
  • Vanderbilt 77, Kentucky 64: Kentucky needs Patrick Patterson back as soon as possible. Without him, the Wildcats are a pretty terrible team offensively. Jodie Meeks is going to get burnt out soon if Billy Gillispie isn't careful. Meeks cuts so hard and runs off of screens so hard, but UK can still not get him the ball in a position that he can be effective consistently. The fact that he got 26 last night should go to show you how talented this kid actually is (did anyone see the three he hit from 30 feet with three guys guarding him to beat a shot clock buzzer in the first half?). Vandy used a 15-2 run that spanned both halves to open a 39-30 lead, and UK could never get it close after that. The Wildcats are going to be in big trouble if Patterson isn't back soon. Their last five games include Tennessee and LSU at home and Florida and South Carolina on the road. Unfortunately, Jeannine Edwards was "forced" to interview Vandy coach Kevin Stallings at halftime because the Commodores had made a run to tie it up. Too bad. I would have loved to see Round 3.
  • Vermont 77, UMBC 65: The Catamounts have won 12 of 13 to move to 12-3 in the America East. Imagine if this team still had Joe Trapani, who transferred to BC after his freshman year.
  • BYU 73, New Mexico 62: Jonathon Tavernari had 22 and 7 boards while Jackson Emery added a career-high 19 as BYU got revenge for a 19 point drubbing last month in the Pit. BYU is now a game back of Utah atop the MWC, while New Mexico is 2.

1 comment:

LeGantBlanc said...

More amazing Booker highlights here. Dude was on fire.