Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Painter's crew gets a much needed win over Northwestern.
After a miserable three game stretch where Purdue was blown out every game, the Boilers get a little vengeance against Northwestern as Purdue wins 73-43. This wasn't exactly an outstanding win because of how depleted the Wildcats are and, well, they just aren't that good. But at this point a win is a win, and Purdue played incredibly well in this game.
Purdue came out looking mad and tired of getting smacked around. The way they played tonight definitely showed it. Sandi Marcius got the start over A.J. Hammons at center tonight, and I'm totally fine with that. Hammons has been playing lazy on both ends of the court, he's taken ill-advised shots, and has just been flat out crappy from how great he started conference play. Hammons logged twelve minutes tonight; clearly he is in Painter's doghouse. I want Hammons to develop and be a dominant center in not just the Big Ten, but in all of college basketball. That won't happen until he gives 110% on offense, defense, and completely buys into Painter's system.
After going through a rough stretch, Terone Johnson broke out during this game and scored 22 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and went 4-5 from behind the arc. He played with a chip on his shoulder and had a "F you, I'm gettin' buckets" mentality, which is what Terone needs when going up against apposing defenses. D.J. Byrd shot the ball well also and didn't take too many stupid shots, which was refreshing. Byrd finished with 13 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds. Byrd has been doing a great job at facilitating recently, something that we need him to do. If Byrd can continue to make hustle plays, get the occasional 3-point shot, rebound and pass well, then I'm fine with DJ continuing to start, as apposed to giving his position to one of the younger guys like so many, including myself, have asked for.
A game like this allowed Purdue to go deep into the bench; Stephen Toyra, Dru Anthrop, and Neal Beshears were able to get some time on the court. I was surprised that Jacob Lawson saw only five minutes in a blowout like this. Lawson has moved from the starting lineup to the bottom of the bench throughout the season. It's a shame that his athleticism is going to waste, but with the depth we have at the forward/center position and the team not having a real identity it does make sense.
Some things I liked about this game:
- Our hustle. Purdue was crashing the boards, 50-28 Purdue, we played good individual and team defense, and we shot the ball better than what we have recently, which isn't saying a whole lot but hey, lets take what we can get.
- Travis Carroll. I like Carroll, take shots at him if you want, but he's honestly one of the only guys on this team that knows what his job is and actually does it: box it, rebound and play hard defense, set screens, do the dirty work that goes unnoticed, and get buckets when he can. I've liked watching his progression this season. He'll never be anything more than a role player, but I'm loving the solid 10-15 minutes of play he's been giving us.
- Three point shot selection. We took open, smart shots throughout this game and shot 46.7%. That's incredible for this team, seeing as we are usually in the 20s or 30s. If we can take smart three point shots and connect on them, that will definitely help us through these last few games.
- Passing. This was one of the best passing games I've seen Purdue play since Robbie Hummel left. The offense slowed things down, was unselfish, and that led to good shots.
The past few Purdue games were pretty miserable to watch, honestly. But tonight, this team looked like they got back on the wagon. Hopefully this isn't a fluke; I'm not going to get my hopes too high since NU is pretty awful. But hey, a win is a win and we'll see if Purdue can capitalize from this victory and continue the momentum going forward.