The game of the day lived up to the hype as Purdue beat Tennessee 73-72 in the title game of the Paradise Jam. E'Twaun Moore led the Boilermakers with twenty-two points while Tennessee's Wayne Chism led all scorers with twenty-four. Tight throughout, the game changed in tempo from the first half to the second. Purdue led at the half 42-41 but the fast tempo made that lead a bit of fool's gold; a game in the eighties wouldn't bode well for the Boilermakers. But their staple of tough half-court defense was able to slow down the pace of the game, limiting the number of possessions for both teams.
The final came down to who had the ball last, wih Tennessee running a pick and pop with Chism in the game's final seconds. Chism was their best offensive player on the night but you have to wonder if Tyler Smith may not have been a better answer in regards to who should set the pick for Bobby Maze. Chism's three pointer was off and Purdue's Kelsey Barlow collected the rebound and ran out the clock. Robbie Hummel added twenty points for the victors. Both teams gain a lot from a meeting like this early in the season despite the result.
Three Key Happenings
1. Pittsburgh uses defense to defeat Wichita State. The Panthers did turn the ball over seventeen times in their 68-55 win but made up for it by holding the Shockers to 40.9% shooting with twenty-four turnovers. Travon Woodall and Ashton Gibbs will handle the majority of the ball-handling duties for Pitt, and with both being youngsters there will be days of high turnover numbers. But if Jamie Dixon's team can defend they're going to win games and the eventual return of injured guard Jermaine Dixon will add to their perimeter depth. Tuesday brings on a far stiffer test in Texas, who's deeper and has a larger array of options offensively.
2. When you're most talented player can also make "winning plays" you're in good shape. That would be Wisconsin's Trevon Hughes, who came up with a key held ball in the final nine seconds of the Badgers' 65-61 win over Arizona in the final game of the day from Maui. Hughes led the Badgers with 24 points and seven rebounds, making the difference in a game that wasn't exactly a work of art. But down the stretch you could see the difference in overall experience; players such as Hughes, Jason Bohanon and Jon Leuer have been through many situations before while the Wildcats are leaning heavily upon inexperienced players outside of Nic Wise, Jamelle Horne and Kyle Fogg. That ultimately made the difference in this matchup.
3.Gonzaga needs to get more from Demetri Goodson. In the Bulldogs' toughest games thus far the sophomore hasn't played particularly well. While the Zags did return the likes of Matt Bouldin, Steven Gray and Robert Sacre one characteristic that has defined this program over the last decade is a point guard who can not only run the team but also score when called upon. Is Goodson a scorer on the same level as a Jeremy Pargo? No and it would be unfair to expect him to play in a similar fashion. But he's got to give them more than two points and two assists as he did in Gonzaga's comeback win over Colorado. Keep an eye on Demetri in Tuesday's semifinal against Wisconsin.
Top Three Games
1. Purdue 73, Tennessee 72 See above.
2. Western Kentucky 68, CS-Northridge 67 An Anthony Sally free throw with 4.7 seconds remaining gave the Hilltoppers with home win. Sergio Kerusch led all scorers with 24 points while also grabbing nine rebounds in the victory.
3. Stillman 77, Alabama A&M 75 Stillman? Yup, Stillman. The Division II school picked up the win thanks to a Skyler Williams layup with two seconds remaining. Marquell Jones tied the game for Stillman with a three pointer with 22 seconds remaining and an A&M turnover on the ensuing possession led to the mad dash to the basket.
Three Noteworthy Performances
1. G Grayson Flittner (Gardner-Webb) Flittner posted a line of 32 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists in the Bulldogs' 92-73 loss at North Carolina.
2. G Steven Gray (Gonzaga) Gray scored twenty-seven points in the Bulldogs' 76-72 come from behind win over Colorado in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
3. E'Twaun Moore (Purdue) Moore accounted for 22 points and three assists in the Boilermakers' 73-72 win over Tennessee in the Paradise Jam final.
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