Just about everything was going Purdue's way tonight as the Boilers romped over an opponent that was like SNL 40 years ago, not ready for primetime. Arkansas State was ranked something like 351st in the RPI going into this game and when you're a B1G team playing a team like that at home you hope to drop the hammer on them, and tonight Purdue did just that. After a disappointing loss to North Florida, and an underwhelming victory over IPFW, Purdue fans needed to see this type of dominant performance. I'm not going to bore you with the details, instead I'll go the more analysis route. This game was "televised" by ESPN3 so fancy folks like me were able to use their laptop and hook it up to the TV to see it on the big screen. It's a pretty novel approach to be able to watch a sporting event on the big screen. Other networks should look into that idea.
Back on my old site I would do the John Wooden Memorial Player of the Game and I'll carry that over to these wrap ups when I do them. It's an easy one tonight and that's Kendall Stephens. Not often that you can score as much as an opponent during a half of basketball but that's just what Stephens did during the first half. He wound up with 18 the exact amount of Arkansas State. The guy was NBA Jam on fire from three in the first half with a perfect 6-6. Incredible to see.
The first half was an absolute clinic on how to distribute and shoot the basketball. It's something that the last two seasons of Purdue basketball desperately needed to learn, and it's something that really sets this team apart from the very underwhelming teams of the past two years. Kendall Stephens in particular really showed what he was capable of as he went 6-6 from distance in the first half. Combined this Purdue team went 8-10 from deep which I don't know if you know this, is pretty darn good. That's 80% for the IU students reading this. To go along with the hot shooting Purdue had 14 assists on 19 made baskets. This is the point that gives me the most optimism about the season moving forward.
Purdue started the half on an 11-0 run and after that it was basically over. Arkansas State was overwhelmed in every facet of the game. Amazingly, the one area where Purdue really didn't excel in the first half was the big men. In the first half Isaac Haas and AJ Hammons combined for just six of Purdue's 52 points. That might worry you if not for the fact that Purdue went into half up 52-18. Hammons continued to struggle around the hoop, short arming a lot of his shots. I'm not sure if that's related to his body transformation or weight loss but it's a thought at least. I've never lost 30 pounds over a year so I'm not entirely sure how that would impact your skill set. One more big thing in the first half was the rebounding margin. Purdue grabbed 21 boards compared with just 13 for Arkansas State. 8-10 from three, +8 in rebounding, and 52 total points. That's a winning half right there.
The second half saw Purdue let off the gas quite a bit as Stephens took just one more three, and missed it, to finish 6-7 on the day. Despite slowing down quite a bit and allowing the Arkansas State offense to get themselves onto some semblance of a track Purdue increased their lead and wound up winning by 41. The three point shooting fell off the cliff in the second half with Purdue going just 1-13. That'll knock your percentages down. It didn't matter. Let's go with some quick hits.
- Free throws weren't a concern tonight but they are certainly a thorny issue that could cost Purdue a game come conference time. Purdue went 18-28 tonight. Hammons and Haas are two guys in particular who need to step their free throw game up. They will go to the line more than anyone not named Rapheal Davis. Together the two went just 6-11.
- Purdue again had a big advantage on the boards, 41-31. Having two seven footers on the team will really get you a big advantage rebounding the ball. Wonder why that is?
- Anfernee Brown scored what I believe are his first points this season tonight going 1-1 and also grabbing three rebounds and also had on steal.
- Jacquil Taylor continues to be the odd man out here. Looks like maybe all the talk of him redshirting prior to the season were wrong as he got a few minutes tonight and now is officially in this season. No running back to the NCAA and claiming injury at this point.
- Purdue had just 10 turnovers on the day which is a big improvement to how they were earlier in the year when they were getting 10 turnovers a half.
- Hammons might be struggling at times to get the ball in the hoop but you can see his improvement elsewhere on the court, and I think he deserves some credit for that. The guy has gotten good at finding the open man once he's doubled in the post. His defense has also continued to improve. If he can stay out of foul trouble and makes those bunnies he really could have that breakout year we've heard so much about.
- The Purdue freshman continue to impress. Though Taylor still hasn't found his place the other four are shining in Painter's system. The five of them combined for 28 points in this victory and that's with Stephens taking the second half off and Taylor scoring just one. This class could be very special when we look back at them.