It wasn’t exactly the early season blowout you always hope to see in these early games but it was a double digit win so I’ll take it. NJIT was able to stay in the game thanks largely to the play of Damon Lynn. Lynn was on fire from all over the floor going 10-18 on the game and 8-13 from distance. The guy was hitting ridiculously tough shots with defenders in his face. There’s not a lot you can do as a defender in that situation. Other than Lynn NJIT only had one other player in double figures and that was Chris Jenkins who scored 12 off the bench. The Purdue defense played pretty well other than Lynn, but as I said he was just hitting tough shots.
John Wooden Memorial Player of the Game (JWMPOTG)- Caleb Swanigan earns the trophy tonight. Biggie recorded his fourth double double in as many games and his fifth this season (out of six games). He became the first Purdue player to have four double doubles in a row since none other than Glenn Robinson. Biggie has improved his game vastly from last season when he was, at times, a turnover machine. He appears to have much more strength, better body control, and softer touch down low. As he continues to grow this season we should all realize we are watching something special this year.
I’m not sure what to take away from this game as a Purdue fan. Despite winning the Cancun Challenge previously this game was for someone reason part of said Challenge. The early back and forth really set the tone for the rest of the game as Purdue tended to hold a lead of roughly 6-10 points for the majority of the game. Just as we thought Purdue was going to pull away someone from NJIT, Lynn mostly, would hit a difficult shot and allow their spirits to rise. Like Homer Drew said on the broadcast roughly 1000 times if you let a team like this stay in the game it can lead to bad things. That’s how you get upset. That’s how you lose in a wild game like IU did against IPFW. Fortunately, Purdue used excellent passing and some timely shooting by guys like Carsen Edwards. Edwards has continued to improve his game and tonight he went 3-7 from deep including a couple timely ones in the second half to push Purdue’s lead.
One thing you can never take away from Purdue is the solid passing they exhibit. Tonight NJIT threw a zone at Purdue and forced Purdue to beat them. In case you’re living under a rock the Purdue Boilermakers are not great at playing against zone defenses. Luckily, the passing from this team is so crisp they were able to work the ball around the perimeter as well as inside and find the open man. Purdue wound up with easy bucket after easy bucket that allowed them to stay in a game in which they committed 16 turnovers. Caleb Swanigan was 6-6 from the floor and 10-10 from the line. He wound up with 22 and 13 for another stellar game.
This team is still a work in progress with much to improve upon but there are certainly glimmers of great hope and great promise. This team is continuing to find itself after the loss of AJ Hammons but with guys like Mathias, Carsen Edwards, and Biggie all picking up their play it looks like the ceiling for this team is currently being raised. How high can it get? I guess we will have to watch and see.