Smooge Drops the Ball on Northwestern

Smooge driving in the second half against Northwestern

After watching way too many ads for the new Tron movie I thought that the title for this post was going to be Twaun: Legacy. Somewhere around Monon on the way home I thought that a New Year’s reference would sound better. This title fits exactly what E’Twaun Moore did today. He came out on fire to give Purdue an early lead, then just kept scoring. He finished the day with 31 points which tied his career high. He also pulled down seven boards, had three assists, a block, and two steals. That great day helped carry the Boilers to the 82-69 win.

Before I get into the game too much just let me say how weird it is to actually write up a game the same day that it happened. After a night game it is usually so late by the time that I get home that I just write the post the next day. With the early game today I had a little time to actually get to the post today. I will eventually get around to writing up the women’s game from last night, but the sting is still a little too recent to write about it.

This game very easily could have been trouble for Purdue. Northwestern always gives them fits. Over the last few years Northwestern teams that don’t seem to have as much talent use their scheme to beat the Boilers. Early on it was E’Twaun who helped beat that scheme by hitting his threes. For the most part the Boilers did a great job today handling the Wildcats. Purdue is now 2-0 and heading to Penn State to face the Nittany Lions.

JaJuan Johnson once again is the second man on the team. He scored 19 points and grabbed 9 boards to lead the Boilers in that stat. He had yet another solid game that is becoming ho-hum. How spoiled are we that the two stars score 50 combined and it is nothing unusual? Next season Boiler fans will realize just how good they had it. Ryne Smith was the third leading scorer despite only making two shots from the field. Those were both late threes after he missed his first five. He finished with 13 points thanks to his 7-7 performance from the free throw line. I really enjoy watching him play defense as well. For some reason he is underappreciated by the Boiler faithful, but I really enjoy his play.

Part of the sucess today was holding Northwestern’s top two scorers to only 14 combined points. You could say that part of that was the fact that John Shurna was still recovering from an ankle injury, but how do you explain Drew Crawford only scoring three? The Boiler defense is really fun to watch. They had a few breakdowns today, but for a lot of the breakdowns I bet I could find the moving screen that helped set it up. There were times that they just plain were beat by a good shot. Michael Thompson made a few tough shots during the game.

As I did with the Notre Dame game Wednesday I want to talk a little about a player on the away team. After E’Twaun had already drained five threes to that point Luka Mirkovic knocks one down and went down the court with both hands displaying threes. After hitting another one he seemed to be goading the crowd by acting like he was pumping them up. That was a mistake. The fans seemed to get off of their hands and actively start booing him. I am one of those fans that I read about all the time. I don’t yell all game. That is not who I am. After the Mirkovich incident though I found myself up and mocking him after he was blocked by JJ. Thanks Luka for helping get the crowd into the game.

Play of the Game – I thought that this would be a slam dunk pick, but then I had doubts. I thought the alley oop from Smooge to Kelsey Barlow would be the play of the game. Then Ryne Smith made a great dive across the floor to secure a loose ball. I could hear the floor burns in my upper level seat. He made a nice pass to start a break, and then hustled to the wing. He took the pass and the crowd leaned forward a bit. He had not made a three all game, and they wanted this one for him. When the shot went in Mackey went crazy. The sheer hustle by Smith gets him the play of the game in my book.

Gameball – This was a hard call…for the first couple of minutes. From then on it was E’Twaun Moore’s. I think that this was a very easy call. He scored over thirty points, but he also held one of the Big Ten’s best scorers to only three points. He really does do it all, and some of the national media had better start picking up on what he is doing.


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