It was a sloppy gun fight. Two teams more worried about attacking the other and less worried about defending themselves. The end result was a 91-90 Purdue win that could have just as easily ended in a loss.
Iona shot over 48% from the field and Purdue shot over 44%, including 48% from behind the arc. The rebounding margin was even at 41, but Purdue was able to force some extra possessions because they only committed 7 turnovers and forced 12 turnovers. Although Purdue’s offense was sizzling hot, their free throw percentage was still much lower than it should be. Purdue made only 11 of 20 free throws, including two misses by the reliable Ryne Smith and 0-1 by Robbie Hummel.
If you recall the lack of defense by Purdue in the NCAA tournament loss to Virginia Commonwealth, the game against Iona was similar. Purdue could not stop Iona’s athletic guards and wings from driving to the lane and finding an open teammate crashing the paint. This resulted in 20 assists by Iona to Purdue’s 15.
While the defense was troubling, there are a lot of bright points in this win. I’ll share those, plus some other observations:
- Kelsey Barlow had a very important shot at the end of the first half. With just a few seconds left, he dribbled to half court and threw up a prayer. He nailed it. That fortuitous shot tied the game 50-50 at half (I wasn’t kidding about the lack of defense). These three points ended up being very important. Barlow had some questionable plays at the end of the game, including a bad foul and perhaps a poor shot selection, but his overall game was very good. He finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and two steals. He’s taken more three pointers this year and made 1 for 3 against Iona if you don’t count the important half court shot he made.
- Jacob Lawson played 14 minutes today, but they were important minutes. He was on the floor in the last four minutes. Iona’s quick, athletic team was a matchup problem for both Travis Carroll and Sandi Marcius. Carroll played a solid game, although he had trouble staying in front of some forwards and boxing out strong, athletic Iona players. Lawson grabbed five rebounds, including three offensive rebounds, and had an important basket at the end of the game. I see improvement every game so far with Lawson and I think he could eventually turn into a great hustle guy that rebounds very well, blocks and affects shots, and also beats opponents down the floor for transition points.
- Robbie Hummel was on the floor for all but five minutes today. He played great, finishing with 24 points and 9 rebounds. He was the go-to guy at the end of the game and nailed a three pointer to put Purdue up 91-90 with just over 30 seconds left. He landed hard after losing his shoe one time, which scared the bejesus out of Purdue fans. But to the delight of Boilermakers, he got up just fine. If Hummel can stay healthy, he’ll continue to fill up the stat sheet and lead Purdue to victories.
- Lewis Jackson was a big part of today’s win. He continually drove the lane and made hanging, twisting layups and finger rolls. He definitely earns points for degree of difficulty for some of the acrobatic layups he pulls off. Jackson finished with 17 points and was solid from the free throw line, making 4 out of 5.
- Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson also had important games. Both of these guys attacked the basket, which is a strength Purdue will have to utilize throughout the season. AJ had 8 points and Terone had 6 points. They each had three rebounds, played pretty good defense, and kept Iona’s defense on their heels.
- Two guys that had less of a role than I figured were DJ Byrd and Sandi Marcius. Byrd played 6 minutes and Marcius only played 1 minute. Byrd may still be recovering from his ankle injury, so I’m hoping that he’ll play a bigger role in the future. For Marcius, Iona was just a bad matchup. The Gaels were quick and small, and even though Marcius is athletic for a big man, he doesn’t have the quick feet to move with some of Iona’s forwards. That resulted in two quick fouls in less than two minutes.
- Finally, Ryne Smith is still red hot from three. He hit 5 of 6 today. He played in all of the crunch time minutes, as expected. He’s solid in his defensive assignments. The two free throws he could have made to ensure a tie (at worst) were unexpectedly missed. All in all, he made his usual smart decisions with the basketball and knocked down very important shots. He’ll continue to be a big part of Purdue’s success this season.