Purdue got off to a slow start on Sunday night in the second semifinal of the Paradise Jam against Saint Joseph's due to some cold shooting and the Hawks finding open areas of their own on offense. But things took a turn about halfway through the first half with the Boilermakers harassing the young SJU guards into turnovers and rushed possessions, eventually resulting in Matt Painter's team going to the locker room up 31-30 at the half. Saint Joseph's had fifteen turnovers in the first twenty minutes and the game had the feel of one that was soon going to get out of hand.
That's exactly what happened with Chris Kramer and company supplementing their stout defense with improved offensive efficiency, leading by as many as thirty-one in their 85-60 win over the Hawks. JaJuan Johnson led the Boilermakers with eighteen points and ten rebounds and three other players reached double figures in the win. Saint Joseph's finished the game with twenty-three turnovers to just twelve assists on the night, a victim of the combination of their youth and the defensive ability of the Boilers. Garrett Williamson led the Hawks with twelve point while highly-touted freshman guard Carl Jones was harassed into a 1-for-9 night (five points).
Jones, who some around the program have compared to a young Stephen Curry, actually had a night similar to the early growing pains suffered by the eventual lottery selection. Give the credit to Kramer for that, and in regards to the young Hawks they lost their composure as the game began to slip away. That can happen to young teams so this is a good environment for head coach Phil Martelli when it comes to finding "teachable moments". The Hawks will face DePaul in the third place game Monday at 6 PM with the likely message being the importance of continuing to run your sets no matter the situation. Purdue, on the other hand, has a showdown with Tennessee at 8:30 PM for the title.
Three Key Happenings
1. Big injury derails Gamecock hopes in Charleston. Not to take anything away from Miami for their 85-70 win in the title game of the Charleston Classic, but it would be a serious oversight to ignore the effect that Dominique Archie's knee injury had on the game. The senior forward went down with a right knee less than seven minutes into the game and the Gamecocks were unable to stave off the impact despite eventually leading by as many as eleven points (15-4). Losing Archie, who will undergo further tests on Monday, took away the Gamecocks' best scoring option on the wing, leaving the heavy lifting to Devan Downey at the point.
Archie could have also helped on the boards, where South Carolina was hammered by a 51-26 margin (even Durand Scott had ten rebounds). Dwayne Collins, who led the Hurricanes with seventeen points and fifteen rebounds, was named MVP of the Charleston Classic. You certainly can't get a true read on a team this early but injuries can certainly damper enthusiasm. If he's out for an extended period of time the Gamecocks are going to need some other options at small forward to increase their scoring output.
2. There weren't any "world beaters" in Daytona Beach but NC State picked up a good tournament win. Sidney Lowe's Wolfpack are expected by many to sit in the cellar of the ACC standings this season and while that's still a distinct possibility their winning the Glenn Wilkes Classic is a good early result. Tracy Smith scored with 1.3 seconds remaining to give State a 60-58 over Auburn, giving them the lone undefeated mark among the ten teams in the Classic. Smith in fact missed fourteen of his first sixteen shots before coming through in the game's final minutes. Four starters reached double figures with Dennis Horner's sixteen leading the way but there are some issues that could hurt them down the road.
The Wolfpack lack depth and need a player like DeShawn Painter or Julius Mays to become a consistent option as a reserve, and they also don't shoot particularly well. NC State made just five of nineteen shots from behind the arc and shot 33.3% from the field. But it feels a little better to work on those issues following a tournament win, and this should be a good boost for the young Wolfpack.
3. Villanova put together their best performance of their trip to San Juan. The Wildcats were tested by both George Mason and Dayton, struggling against teams that weren't afraid to challenge them physically yet still pulling out wins. But they got the job done against Ole Miss, outrebounding the Rebels 45-32 while holding them to 38.1% shooting from the field in the 79-67 win to take the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Scottie Reynolds led the Wildcats with twenty-one points while Antonio Peña chipped in with seventeen points and sixteen rebounds.
They've been banged up to this point in the season but the Big East favorites found ways to win against three tough opponents. Twenty-two turnovers is a high number but Villanova is capable of taking better care of the basketball provided they play their game and not force plays. The Rebels were led by Chris Warren who scored twenty-four, but there were times when Ole Miss didn't look organized on offense (23 turnovers).
Top Three Games
1. Kansas State 83, #21 Dayton 75 Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente combined for forty-seven points as the Wildcats picked up their first non-conference win over a ranked team since 2000 (Iowa). K-State's last non-conference win over a ranked opponent on a neutral floor: December 27th, 1980 (Arkansas in Kansas City).
2. George Mason 69, Indiana 66 Close throughout, Cam Long provided the final margin with a three-pointer with seconds remaining to give the Patriots their lone win in Puerto Rico. Long led all seniors with eighteen while the Maurice Creek led the Hoosiers with fifteen points.
3. Austin Peay 69, Niagara 67 This was the first of two thrillers at the Glenn Wilkes Classic, with Marcel Williams scoring with 3.5 seconds remaining to provide the final margin. The Purple Eagles actually jumped out to a 21-4 lead thanks to seven three-pointers but the Governors were able to complete the comeback that slipped through their fingertips on Saturday night against NC State.
Three Notable Performances
1. F Luke Harangody (Notre Dame) The senior All-America scored thirty-two points while grabbing nine rebounds and a pair of steals in the Fighting Irish's 91-72 win over Liberty.
2. G Darion "Jake" Anderson (Northern Iowa) Anderson went for 23 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the Huskies' 70-64 overtime loss to Southeast Missouri State. The 6-2 guard is averaging 10.3 rebounds per game this season.
3. F Antonio Peña (Villanova) Peña scored seventeen points and grabbed sixteen rebounds in the Wildcats' win over Ole Miss for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off title.
Thoughts? Observations? Feel free to add them below.