Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Purdue's win over Michigan highlights the performance of the Boilermaker's 'other guys'

Purdue opened Big Ten play this afternoon with an 80-57 win at Michigan.

Road wins in conference play are always impressive. Road wins by 23 points, regardless of opponent, are something that you don't see too often.

Could it be that the Boilermakers, even without Robbie Hummel, can still compete atop the Big Ten?

The issue, as everyone in the country has said since Hummel went down, will be whether or not Matt Painter can find a third scoring option. And over the last three weeks, Purdue, for the most part, has.

This afternoon, it was Ryne Smith, who had 17 points on 5-6 shooting from three, and Terone Johnson, who added 10, that gave the Boilermakers a boost. Against IPFW, it was DJ Byrd chipping in with 15 points. Against North Florida, Byrd, Smith, Johnson, and Lewis Jackson combined for 40 points.

Purdue is going to rely heavily on the combination of JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. Johnson is playing the best basketball of his life right now, averaging 25.5 ppg over the last four games. Moore isn't playing quite at that pace, but he has hit double figures in every game this season. Combined, the two are averaging 39.2 ppg and 13.7 rpg.

Against better teams, those two are not going to get any kind space without contributions from elsewhere in the lineup.

But with the defense Purdue has played this season (third in the nation, according to Kenpom), its not going to take much for Purdue to win some games.

If their role players continue to step up, this Boilermaker team is going to be one you want to keep an eye on.

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