Last night many people came to Mackey Arena to see JaJuan Jonson going up against Keith Benson. Both players are expected to be NBA players in the near future so you look for anything to make these early games exciting. After having an easy time last Wednesday the Boilers found themselves in a fight early on against the Grizzlies. Oakland came out firing early, and took and early 8-2 lead. They also had leads of 12-5 and 17-10 in the first half. John Hart came into the game to provide a little spark though. He hit a bucket to bring the Boilers to within five, and then stole the basketball to set up DJ Byrd’s three pointer to make it a two point game. This season the players like Hart will determine the fate of the Boilers. These are the guys that the national writers are overlooking when they place Purdue in the national picture.
The Boilers only had a four point lead at the half, but used tough ball pressure to force 21 turnovers on the night. That pressure really seemed to wear down the shallow bench of Oakland. Terone Johnson, Lewis Jackson, DJ Byrd, Kelsey Barlow, and John Hart all provided the key ball pressure that eventually tired out the Grizzlies. I really like our bench this year, and look forward to watching these young players mature. LewJack for the second straight game I was at appeared to hurt his shoulder. He really gets hit hard when he is run into a screen. At his size he is really vulnerable when he runs into a big man. He came back into the game and played in the second half, but was wearing a lot of padding under his jersey.
This is the part of the post where I go off on how good I think that Terone Johnson will be. He really seems to be mature past his years right now both physically and mentally. He does not look like a freshman on the floor. His defense is smothering. He did get into some early foul trouble by pressing a little too hard, but I love seeing him in front of the scorers table ready to come into the game. I don’t think that it will be too much longer before we see him starting. He really seems like the real deal.
JaJuan Johnson was very good last night. He played all forty minutes giving the Boilers the presence they needed in the middle. He finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, four rebounds, and two blocks for the game. When you are matched up early against another NBA type big man you want to have a good game. I would say that JJ did that last night. We really are lucky to have him on this team. The next time that you sit around thinking about what this team does not have think of JJ. Johnson was also big early when the Boilers were struggling a little. His three pointers and rebounds kept them in the game.
E’Twaun Moore did not have such a bad night himself. He finished with 26 points after starting off very slowly. His ten points in the last ten minutes were huge as the Boilers pulled away. One stat that I thought was very interesting was the fact that JJ and Moore scored all the points for the Boilers in the last ten minutes of the game. That is your senior leaders taking over the game.
Gameball: This would be easy to give to both Moore and JJ, but I think that JJ has to get it considering he was part of the marquee matchup of the game. He really had a great game even canning a couple of three pointers. He really carried the team on his shoulders when they needed him early. His three pointers and dunks got the team back into the game, and also got the crowd going as well.
Play of the game: This one is easy. With just under four minutes to go in the first half Kelsey Barlow knocked the ball away from Keith Benson. E’Twaun Moore took control of the loose ball and sent the ball over to Barlow on the break. Barlow executed a perfect behind the back no look pass to JaJuan who slammed the ball home with big time dunk. This got the crowd going, and kept them on their feet. The picture at the top of the post is of Johnson hanging on the rim after his dunk. What made the play so great in my mind was both the selfless passing along with the hustle by JJ who beat Benson down the floor to be in position to dunk. I hope that we get a few more moments like this as the season rolls on.
I will have pictures of the game up tomorrow when time allows. One of them is JJ flying to the hoop for his big dunk.