|Boo!! Ryne Smith scares |
the Mastodons away
The Boilers came out strong, shooting 70% in the first half and the game was truly never in doubt. Of course, it's possible that IPFW had watching game tape of the Xavier and Butler games and was simply letting Purdue race out to their customary lead, but if that was the plan, well, IT BACKFIRED suckers!
The team looked very loose and comfortable out there tonight and it was genuinely fun to watch. Sandi Marcius sat out with a calf injury (minor) and so Travis Carroll (26 minutes, most of any Boilermaker) and Jacob Lawson (starting his first game) got some big man minutes. DJ Byrd also played a significant role for perhaps the first time this season, playing 20 minutes and scoring 11 points on 50% shooting from beyond the arc. He looked comfortable and in rhythm, which of course could have something to do with the opponent. The Mastodons are, how you say...not good.
(As an aside, Boilerdowd was so down on things after his in person experience at the Crossroads Classic that he actually said to me yesterday "They could lose to IPFW.")
There wasn't a whole lot of defense played in this game, though the Boilers held IPFW to 23 points in the first half in building a hearty 50-23 lead. That lead was punctuated by the first Hummel dunk I can remember:
I particularly like how he tries to keep the mean-mug going but it lasts just mere seconds before he breaks into his customary, nice-guy grin. I'd also like to point out that LewJack and Hummel have now dunked this season... Ryne, you're the last senior left who needs to do so. Let's complete the unlikely dunking trifecta.
I'd like to give knuckles to the Big Ten Network for not only sending broadcasters to West Lafayette for the game, but for airing it in its entirety and for making sure Mike Hall didn't insult an entire fan base! Yay!
Back to the game itself, the Boilers had astonishingly good scoring distribution tonight, with six guys getting into double figures. Hummel, Jackson, Smith and Barlow each had ten and off the bench Byrd (as mentioned) had 11, as did Anthony Johnson. In addition, all twelve players who got into the game tonight also got into the scorebook. This includes former walk-on, Dru Anthrop and freshman Neal Beshears. Having twelve guys score is a nice experience usually only found in Bloomington sororities.
The Boilers also shot 75% from the line, improving their 310th ranked FT percentage. Yikes. It's astounding, frankly, just how badly the Boilers have shot from the free throw line, made all the more jarring by the fact that it used to be a strength.
So, yes, there is still plenty to be concerned about heading into Big Ten play, but the Boilers wrapped up the pre-conference schedule in style and stand at 10-3. If you're an optimist, you look at those three losses and realize how easily they could have been (should have been?) wins. If you're a pessimist, you worry about how the Boilers will win a close game against a quality opponent in conference play. The fun part about this point in the season is that it's all still ahead of us.
The Boilers have a little over a week off before the big boy games get rolling and they kick off conference play at Iowa on December 28.