What else can you say? That was a transcendent performance by our senior leader and the heart of our team. JJ, Robbie and E'Twaun get much of the glory and the press. Chris Kramer, however, keeps hustling. He makes plays that change games. You readers have joined me in calling them Kramer Moments. Tonight truly was one giant Kramer moment. He was an assassin. He ripped out their freaking souls in their own building and loved doing it. Shoot, some Alabama students got so incensed they got themselves kicked out.
Purdue basketball: Where Fans get so irate they get thrown out happens.
Just look at the closing sequence. We were down five with 5:51 left. We then flipped the switch:
Kelsey Barlow: Rebound putback
Hummel 3 (assist to Kramer) ties it.
Defensive stop leads to D.J. Byrd free throw for the lead.
Kramer steal and score.
From there it was savvy clock management. We milked possessions, killed the clock with the lead, and made Alabama pay for their missed opportunities with time. We hit some free throws and closed the game out with defense. For the record, Alabama scored one point in the final six minutes. They didn't hit a field goal in the last 8:45. In their own building!!!
I hate using boxing analogies because they are overused, but this was like a fighter absorbing punch after punch after punch for 11 rounds without falling down. When it mattered most we unleashed an ungodly fury that flattened the Crimson Tide. You could almost see the moment the defense found The Switch. They never had a chance when we got rolling. We finished the game on a 14-1 run and in the process ripped a team's heart out Temple of Doom style. Every opponent down the road will see this game and know that we will NEVER be out of any game.
Positives from the Alabama game:
Chris Kramer - Gee, you think? 14 points (ties a season high). Three huge steals. 8 for 8 from the free throw line. The best play came with about 35 seconds left. Alabama inbounded the ball and Kramer hounded the guy for 8 seconds before making the steal. He couldn't do anything! Anthony Brock could only dribble around. He couldn't pass, drive, or shoot because Kramer was just hounding him. Eventually Kramer knocked the ball loose (how?) and came up with it (WTF?). He made Alabama waste the clock for him before not even allowing a shot. That was the most impressive one on one defense I have ever seen.
What level is he now at on the Dead Hooker in the Trunk Scale? I say at least level 6.
Robbie Hummel - Somehow he had a quiet 23 points. He was 3 for 5 from long range though, the biggest being the one that tied it at 64. Another hidden stat was that he had two blocks, one at a critical juncture when we were making the comeback. He did this while playing 39 minutes and even while running the offense at times.
Offensive rebounding - Yes the closeout defense was fantastic, but we don't get the chance to close the game without some huge offensive rebounds in the second half. That is what allowed the comeback. They all seemed to be the type of rebounds I get too. Alabama stood around expect the ball to come to them, only to have a guy slide in, grab it, and put it back before they realized he was there. As someone who did that for four years at the co-rec, I know it demoralizes the other team. That's especially true when it is a 5'11" white guy doing it. We had six offensive rebounds where we immediately scored on putbacks in the second half, including three on three straight possessions!
E'Twaun Moore - I saw The Look in the second half. Once we got the lead E'Twaun wanted the ball and he wanted to finish them off with the scenario I have described multiple times (3 point lead, shot clock winding down, dagger basket). I love that he wants the ball in these moments. I love even more that we have a whole team full of closers now.
D.J. Byrd - The freshman played his best game to date. I was impressed, as he hit some really big shots for us. He had two triples and had a chance for another when he gave us the lead. Work on the free throws a little and you'll be fine, son. D.J. Byrd is the perfect type of player we need right now. He is talented, but young. W don't need him to do a lot, but when we do get something from him it is great. He is learning the college game at a good pace and is starting to break out a bit.
Negatives from the Alabama game:
JaJuan Johnson - He played a good second half, but we have got to keep him out of first half foul trouble. We're playing with fire there. Patrick Bade looked lost tonight. Even when Sandi Marcius comes back he is a true freshman with less experience than Bade. I see JJ's position as our one true weakness. On the positive side, we're learning to survive without him. Poor JJ is so shell-shocked from fouls this year you can see he is more timid on defense. He hardly goes for even easy blocks now because he fears the whistle.
Patrick Bade - Please keep your head up, Patrick. Just do your thing and learn. He looked lost tonight, but he'll get better.
First half offense - Just atrocious. I don't even think it was Alabama's defense. We just never could get in any kind of rhythm. Even then, if it wasn't for offensive rebounds at the end we don't win.
First half bounces - Is it me, or did it seem like every little friendly roll, carom, or bounce went Alabama's way in the first half. That's what had me worried. This game had the feel of a loss because things weren't going our way in the Little Things department. That's why we have a Chris Kramer though. He makes things go our way.
Ball State, SIU-Edwardsville, and Iowa. We're going to be favored heavily in each, so it is time to take care of business. There is no reason we can't be 12-0 before facing West Virginia on New Year's Day. Who knows, with an upset or two here and there it could be a battle between #1 and #2.
I can't get over how impressive this win was though. This team has so much fight in them. They refuse to lose even with two players hurt and one of our main players on the bench with foul trouble. We turned this game around by sheer effort of will. We fought so hard that you could see the dejection on Alabama's faces at the end. This is the type of demoralizing loss that send a program into a spiral. We didn't just win the game, we broke their will. I never thought I would see a Purdue team do that.
So enjoy the week off, fellas. Get plenty of study time because it is Finals week and we need you all eligible second semester. I'll see you on Saturday at Conseco. As for the fans, we get a bigger arena to sell out this time. Make the drive to Indy and make Conseco Fieldhouse our home away from home for the first of four games this year.