If you're looking for a reason for today's loss it can be summed up thusly: Old Purdue beat New Purdue. Old Purdue, the team we are used to seeing for the past two seasons, reigned supreme in the first half. It committed 11 turnovers (which the Wildcats took FULL advantage of). It had a six minute scoreless stretch. A.J. Hammons was a ghost as he committed two fouls in the first minute and was never heard from again.
No team is going to win many games when it falls behind by 20. When it does that while playing ridiculously uninspired basketball it is even worse. I was not alone in being driven to complete apathy when K-State went up 20 early in the second half. It was more of the same that we have seen for two years and more of the same from Saturday's football game.
There was at least a fire lit, and that fire was sparked by Isaac Haas. The freshman, though only four games into his career, has shown that he understands what "Play Hard" means. He started the game strong once Hammons went to the bench and was not afraid to play some basketball even with some fouls. Meanwhile Hammons was soft as babyshit yet again even with only two fouls and less than 10 minutes to play.
Haas played hard and was big as Purdue cut a 20-point lead to five with 3:21 left. Purdue had a chance, but the hole was two deep. Thomas Gipson connected on two very tough buckets and a turnover by Jon Octeus allowed the Wildcats to push the lead back up. When Marcus Foster connected on a long three with a little over 2 minutes to play it was over.
Foster was great for KSU. He had 24 points and hit a couple of long threes as the shot clock was winding down that were just daggers. Gipson battled foul trouble but had all nine of his point in the second half and was 4 for 4 from the field.
Purdue did a lot right. It shot the basketball well, hit free throws, and got its turnovers under control in the second half. It was the first half turnovers and 14 offensive rebounds that were the difference. A few things are clear now:
- Haas needs to start over Hammons - It is not even close. Both were facing double and triple teams in the opening three games, but Haas was at least attacking the basket. Haas has outscored Hammons 53-23 over four games, he actually looks like he wants to rebound, and generally has played with more energy and passion than Hammons has at any point in the last three years. I now fear Haas leaving for the NBA before Hammons.
- Purdue cannot take halves off in terms of effort - This should have been learned last year, but it wasn't. Whether it was the freshman yips or what, the first half was awful and the true difference in the game.
- Tomorrow is a must-win game - Assuming we play Missouri we have to win. Going 1-2 with only a win over Chaminade on Wednesday is a wasted trip. Going 0-3 is an utter disaster.
- Kendall Stephens is turning into D.J. Byrd - He had 21 today and had some big threes, but he also forced things early on and it cost us offensively.
- Jon Octeus was a huge pickup - He was the only player that wanted the ball in the first half and his experience is crucial to any success this year. He was great with 12 points and 7 assists.
- The zone experiment was a disaster today - Part of it was no protection of the basket with Hammons and Haas both sitting, but Kansas State carved it up.
- Where is Rapheal Davis? - He is supposed to be a leader on this team. Someone put out an APB on him.
That's it for now. Purdue plays tomorrow afternoon at 2pm ET on ESPN2.