Purdue Barely Avoids Upset Loss to High Point

It was not pretty. It took eight 3-point field goals by Ryne Smith for Purdue to beat High Point, a little known school from North Carolina, 67-65 on Monday night.

Perhaps Purdue was giddy from playing only its second game in the newly renovated Mackey Arena. And maybe its previous 62 point win over Northern Illinois gave them a sense of self confidence that it didn’t deserve. In any event, Purdue was lucky to survive.

It may not have deserved to win because its defense was beat off the dribble and the Boilers were outrebounded by a smaller team. Purdue also took a lot of questionable shots in the first half as High Point’s active zone defensive stymied Purdue from attacking the basket.

Here are the main points from Tuesday’s narrow win:

  • Purdue was abysmal from the free throw line. It only made 6 of 19 free throws. Even Robbie Hummel only made 1 of 4 of his free throws (1 of 5 if you count the shot he missed during a lane violation). Anthony Johnson, Terone Johnson, and Hummel all shot very poorly from the line. Surprisingly, Kelsey Barlow hit two very important free throws at a critical period in the game. Travis Carroll missed his FT attempt. What’s funny is that some of Purdue’s very good shooters — Hummel, Anthony Johnson, and Travis Carroll are much better free throw shooters than that. Terone Johnson was a very good FT shooter in high school, but maybe it’s a conditioning thing. One thing is for sure: Purdue will be practicing boat loads of shots from the line in preparation of its tourney in Puerto Rico.
  • As I said in the opening paragraph, Ryne Smith was red hot tonight. He hit 8 of 15 three pointers. If it were not for him, Purdue would have easily lost this game. He took mostly good, open shots with the exception of a 40 footer he tried in the first half. He was Purdue’s saving grace tonight and made High Point’s zone defense pay again and again.
  • Purdue was outrebounded tonight by a team whose center was a strongly built and athletic 6-6 forward. This is not a good sign for things to come unless Purdue dramatically improves its ability to box out and prevent that kind of rebounding. Carroll, Marcius, Lawson, and Hummel all need to step up their rebounding.
  • Speaking of Lawson, I liked his energy. He blocked two shots and knows how to finish when a pass is dropped off near the rim. He did miss a dunk, but I like how he fearlessly attempts to throw it down. We can’t have Carroll play scared under the hoop like he did tonight. He missed a bunny. Marcius was fairly quiet tonight. All in all, High Point had a lot of athletes that made for difficult matchups for Carroll and Marcius. Carroll played in critical minutes though because Painter can’t yet trust Lawson or Marcius from turning the ball over or fouling.
  • Anthony Johnson was an impressive scorer tonight. He started over Barlow. I am interested to hear Coach Painter’s comments about why Johnson started over Barlow. He struggled somewhat defensively, but he is one of the few Boilers who attacked the basket. He made multiple floating shots in the lane and also knocked down multiple threes.
  • Robbie Hummel played almost the entire game. He hit threes, found his mid-range game, passed the ball well, and rebounded well. He’s Purdue’s best rebounder right now in my opinion. I can tell you though that Hummel will be very hard on himself after his missed free throws tonight. He had a chance to lock up the game, but High Point nearly won on a last second three because he missed both of his attempts at the end of the game. I don’t expect that to happen again.
  • Lewis Jackson tried attacking High Point’s zone defense, but they did a good job of bottling him up and not giving him passing lanes once he got within the arc. He did kick the ball out for open shots, but I was hoping he’d be able to generate a little more offense from splitting the gaps. He was his solid self on defense. He’s a great on-the-ball defender and that will be important all year long.
  • Terone Johnson played pretty well attacking the rim and playing solid defense. His missed free throws hurt. I was surprised he didn’t get more playing time, but that tells me that Anthony Johnson is playing well in practice to earn lots of minutes.
  • Maybe it was because Barlow did not start tonight, but he did not play very well. He was beaten off the dribble a few times and took some bad shots in the half court offense. He did rebound very well, but I was hoping he would knock down those open jumpers and stay in front of his man on D. His clutch free throws though were very important in Purdue’s win tonight.
  • Coach Painter needs to work on offensive sets for Purdue to run when facing a zone defense. It was a sloppy night for the Boilers and they settled for three point shots instead of moving the ball and working the ball into the paint.
  • Also, DJ Byrd did not play tonight as he injured his ankle in the Northern Illinois game. It does not appear to be a serious injury and he should hopefully be good to go for Purdue’s upcoming tournament in Puerto Rico.
After tonight’s scare, Purdue will surely have a tough week of practice before it leaves for Puerto Rico to play in the tip-off tournament. Let’s hope this was a learning experience and that they can improve from their mistakes.

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