Northwestern rolls past Purdue
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or email@example.com February 2, 2013 11:24PM
Purdue's D.J. Byrd (21) shoots a three-point basket over Northwestern's Dave Sobolewski (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)
Updated: March 4, 2013 6:57AM
EVANSTON, Ill. — Before the game even began, Saturday took on an ominous tone for Purdue.
A.J. Hammons, fresh off a career-high 30 points against Indiana, didn’t start against Northwestern, as the freshman center was late for the team bus.
Once the game began, the outlook didn’t brighten for the Boilermakers, with the Wildcats in control throughout for a 75-60 win at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Northwestern (13-10, 4-6 Big Ten) reeled off the game’s first 12 points, and Purdue (11-11, 4-5) never recovered. Hammons entered with 16:44 left in the first half, with the score 10-0. The Boilermakers missed their first five shots, before a Hammons tip-in at the 16:00 mark.
“He (Hammons) didn’t have anything to do with being down 12-0,” said coach Matt Painter, adding Purdue needs better guard play. “I don’t think him being late to the bus is the reason that someone outplayed you for 40 minutes. It sure doesn’t help, you’d like to have that. But you can’t put it on him.”
Indeed, missing Hammons — who had 19 points and a career-high 13 rebounds — at the outset was significant and put the Boilermakers in an early hole, but they still didn’t give much indication they were capable of beating the Wildcats on Saturday. In particular, Northwestern carved up Purdue’s defense, using its Princeton-style offense to score off back-doors and 3-pointers, and everything in between.
“If you can’t defend them, it’s like you’re having a flashing light on top of your head while you’re out there playing, and they just pick on you,” said Painter, calling out the veterans for a lack of “discipline” — an ongoing issue team-wide — beyond simply its youth.
“At times, we hide one guy in the past who had that flashing light, but when you have four or five guys out there with flashing lights, it’s a difficult thing.”
Said D.J. Byrd, who had 12 points, five rebounds and five assists: “Just coming into it, we have to have that focus, because Northwestern plays such a different style than the other teams in the Big Ten. We just failed to execute.
“We have to come out ready to play, and that goes to all five of us. We have to help each other out on defense, and just coming out and having a fight. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t, and that’s not acceptable. We have to have that consistency.”
Northwestern had entered the game struggling offensively, not that it was evident against Purdue. The Wildcats were averaging 63.4 points, including 57.1 in conference games; shooting 41.4 percent, including 38.9 in conference games; and shooting 35.3 percent from 3-point range, including 30.6 in conference games. But they led 43-29 at halftime, making 17-of-25 shots (68.0 percent), including 8-of-12 from 3. For the game, they had 24 assists on 26 baskets.
“The shots went in, but they were good shots, shots that we practice,” said Northwestern coach Bill Carmody, noting his team had a “bad” practice on Friday. “We certainly executed very well, and there wasn’t any tension on offense; it had a nice flow to it. We just came out today and took care of business.”
The performance was especially disappointing for Purdue after its 97-60 loss to Indiana on Wednesday at Mackey Arena, calling into question the direction of its season after its four-game win streak in the series against Northwestern was snapped
“How you respond is the time the popcorn’s turning,” Painter said.
“Coaches will come back and say we had two great practices, then we didn’t play well. Who really cares? It’s your production right here, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, is the only thing that counts, is the only thing they judge you by. You don’t have your stats at the end of the year that say we had four good practices — it doesn’t matter. Our guys didn’t respond to it, just the start of the game. You would think after getting beat by 37 points, on your home court, against your rival school, that you would have more fight to start the game. But it really says a lot to where we are and our immaturity.”
Reggie Hearn scored 21 of his career-high 26 points in the first half for Northwestern, making his first nine shots and finishing 11-of-17 from the field. Dave Sobolewski scored eight of his 13 points as the Wildcats — who placed four players in double-figure scoring — raced out to that 12-0 lead on their way to a 15-2 edge.
“I felt coming in that we were prepared, guys were there, I felt as a team we were ready for this matchup,” said Anthony Johnson, who had 11 points and a career-high eight rebounds. “There are some things you understand coming into the game, you know are going to happen to you — you know you’re going to get back-doored, you know you’re going to miss a switch. But for it to keep happening, keep happening, keep happening, you can’ allow that, and it cost us the game.
“We’re a defensive-minded team, but these last two games it doesn’t show at all.”
Purdue called two timeouts in the game’s opening three-plus minutes, but couldn’t stem the tide. The Boilermakers used 11 players, including early appearances from Dru Anthrop and Sandi Marcius, in the first eight-plus minutes, but no combination worked.
“We don’t have a lot of depth, so guys that keep making those same mistakes keep playing,” Painter said. “We have a lot of people playing that need to sit and watch, and learn some hard lessons.”
After Northwestern led by as much as 56-35 with 12:45 left, Purdue scored nine straight points. But the Boilermakers didn’t have the offense or defense to pose a serious threat on this day.
“We couldn’t get some stops to go along with some of those runs,” Painter said. “You talk about your own team, but I thought Northwestern was great. Bill’s done a great job. They were clicking on all cylinders today from an offensive standpoint.”