Ready or not, Purdue is off to Maui. Tonight we all knew Purdue was going to win. When there are multiple Division II and Division III teams better than Grambling this was a Division I basketball game in name only. At one point late in the first half Grambling had almost as many turnovers (11) as field goal attempts (12). The game was over after got off to a 12-0 lead to start and it was never a real contest after that.
That made the rest of the night a chance to try new things. Purdue used its new zone defense extensively early on and forced several turnovers. The rest of the night was about getting everyone involved. This was not a game where Vince Edwards and Kendall Stephens carried the Boilers like on Sunday. Instead, Purdue shared the basketball like Norman Dale was coaching and insisted on four passes before every shot. That's the explanation for 24 assists on 31 baskets, with Basil Smotherman, perhaps the quietest player in the first two games, leading with five.
While I thought Purdue would be able to hit 100 points with ease like last year against Central Connecticut State the tempo did not accommodate. Often to get to 100 you have to have two teams willing to get up and down the floor so there are enough possessions to get there. Grambling prevented it almost by default, as they just don't play fast enough on offense for us to get enough possessions to get to 100.
All 11 scholarship guys played extensive minutes and scored at least two points. In fact, the lowest scorer was Vince Edwards with two even though he had 38 in the first two games. He still contributed with six rebounds, three assists, and two steals though, and it is not like he was forcing shots and had a cold night. He only took four shots.
Purdue was led by a solid night from Isaac Haas off the bench. So far, Haas has proven to be more of a scorer than A.J. Hammons, as Hammons has been awfully quiet through three games. Hammons had 6 points and 7 rebounds while Haas had 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and a block. That is awfully good for the freshman, because he is either going to supplant Hammons in the lineup if he keeps up that production or he will assure there is no drop off in the post when the big man needs a break.
No one else was in double figures, but everyone else except Jon McKeeman and Stephen Toyra scored. Even walk-on Anfernee Brown hit a three. P.J. Thompson hit a pair of threes, Jacquil Taylor hit a three, and Dakota Mathias hit three from long range.
The overall balance in scoring was extremely pleasant to see. Purdue has been at its best when anyone in the regular rotation I at least a threat to score 10-15 points on any given night. I would much rather have that than rely on someone for 20-25 night in and night out. It keeps defenses guessing when everyone on the floor is a threat to score. That's not something we could say the past two years.
Overall, it was about what was expected. Grambling is an awful team and scored only 30 points, which is a new defensive record for points given up in the modern era (1951-52 season forward). That is just a ridiculous number, but when Grambling had 27 turnovers, was 11 of 41 from the field and a dismal 4 of 12 the line it is easy to see why.
So, on to Maui. Things get a lot tougher Monday afternoon.Let's close with some tweets and linked highlights: