ATB: Purdue Gets Painter’s MessagePosted by rtmsf on January 20th, 2010
Message Received, Loud and Clear. #15 Purdue 84, Illinois 78. Matt Painter threw everyone on his team other than E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel under the bus over the weekend in comments he made about the lack of hustle and energy from his players during the Boilermakers’ recent three-game losing streak. It’s a tried-and-true coaching strategy, and it seemed to work tonight as his team used a strong second half run out of the game to take control of this game and make Painter look like a genius. Examining the players that Painter referred to in his diatribe, he conspicuously omitted JaJuan Johnson from a preferred starting lineup (composed entirely of Moore and Hummel clones), and that slight resulted in a dominant 24/12/2 blks evening for the big man. When JJJ plays up to his abilities on the offensive end, Purdue is nearly unbeatable, going 8-1 in the last two seasons when he breaks twenty points. When he’s held under ten for the game, the Boilermaker record is 6-6 over the same period, including all three losses this season. Additionally, usual starters Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer were relegated to bench duty tonight, but 7/9/3 assts between the two of them show that they were focused on defense and hustle stats. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening was sophomore guard John Hart coming off the bench to contribute a career-high 14/2 in eighteen inspired minutes of action. Believe it or not, tonight was Hart’s first minute of action in a Big 10 game — nice debut, young fella! Illinois played well enough to win the game on the defensive end, but like so many other Illini games over the year, they simply couldn’t get enough production aside from Demetri McCamey (28/9) and Mike Davis (17/15). Freshmen guard duo DJ Richardson (12/2) and Brandon Paul (5/3) shot 6-18 from the field, which was surprisingly their best combined output in three weeks, but Illini fans have to be wondering what happened to the pair that combined for 34 points in the big comeback at Clemson in early December.
Watch Out, ACC. #18 Georgia Tech 66, #16 Clemson 64. The Ramblin’ Wreck moved to 3-2 in the ACC with its third win in eleven days over a ranked team (nevermind that pesky loss to UVa sandwiched in between). And while the win is very nice and worth talking about on its own merits, what we really want to discuss is that the nation’s #2 incoming recruit, Derrick Favors, may have awakened from his season-long slumber to serve notice that the second half of the year may be a somewhat different story for his opponents. His numbers weren’t Michael Beasley or Blake Griffin-esque (17/14/3 blks), but they do represent his best all-around performance of the season (career highs in pts and rebs), and had he made his FTs (1-5) he would have broken the 20-point barrier as well. As Favors said after the game, he is ‘playing better,’ and if he is putting it all together just in time for the home stretch of the season, Georgia Tech suddenly becomes the most interesting team in the ACC. Gani Lawal added 16/10 for Tech and Zachery Peacock (6/5) hit the game-winning FTs with 3.2 seconds remaining.
Upset of the Night. Wichita State 60, #22 Northern Iowa 51. It’s up to you guys to decide if this was a ‘real’ upset (Vegas had Wichita State as a three-point favorite), but UNI was the team with the lofty ranking and the fifteen-game winning streak coming to town tonight. Wichita used its stingy perimeter defense to show that the Panthers aren’t going to simply run roughshod through the Valley this year without any competition, stifling the UNI offense in the first half to the tune of 17 points and 8-25 FG shooting. JT Durley led the way with 19/5, while Graham Hatch added 14/8 for the Shockers. These two teams are by far the best two teams in the Valley this season, and they’re doing it with their defense (what else?). Both teams rank among the top 40 in KenPom’s defensive efficiency, and with the slowish tempo that both teams employ, there just aren’t going to be many good looks for most of their opponents over the course of a game.
Other Games of National Interest.
- #8 Tennessee 63, Alabama 56. Tennessee moved to 5-0 in games after the New Year’s Day incident that gutted Bruce Pearl’s team, and it’s nothing short of amazing that his team continues to find scrappy ways to win these games. For example, tonight’s unknown star was 6’8 freshman forward Kenny Hall, who dropped 12/10 in 26 minutes of play. Melvin Goins and Cameron Tatum were reinstated to practice on Sunday, but they did not play tonight, and it’s left unsaid by Bruce Pearl when they will work their way back into the lineup. They’re going to need these guys sooner rather than later, though, with games versus rivals Vanderbilt and Florida coming up soon.
- #25 Ohio State 75, Northwestern 56. Evan Turner flirted with his third trip-dub of the season, going for 20/13/8 assts in a game that got away from the Wildcats early and often. He said after the game that he’s about 90% back, which means that when he’s 100% he’ll regularly be putting up triple-doubles as Ohio State rolls. Seriously, though, the Buckeyes overwhelmed Northwestern tonight from the tip, and OSU is now 4-1 since Turner returned to the lineup. As for Northwestern, now at 2-4 in the Big Ten, the Wildcats are going to have to win most of their home games in conference to get to the ‘magic’ number of nine wins, and all six of the remainder are winnable. Win five of those and a two roadies among Iowa, Penn State and Indiana, and we should see NW dancing this year.
- Texas A&M 65, Oklahoma 62. OU can’t seem to catch a break away from home this year, and tonight was no exception as Donald Sloan hit the go-ahead jumper with 32 seconds remaining and the Aggies were able to hang on at home in a tight game for two teams still searching for identities. Willie Warren had another rough night, shooting just 5-13 from the field while committing five turnovers and fouling out of the game. The A&M win put both teams at 2-2 in the conference race, and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect both of them to hover around .500 most of this season. In a strong Big 12, this game could act as a bubble buster for OU with a loss tonight.