Nothing of significance happened in this game tonight, and in terms of excitement level, it was nowhere close to the game that immediately preceded this one between Indiana and Butler so we'll keep this concise, and mostly in bullet points.
The game went like most expected it would in the first half as ND had control most of the way but allowed enough easy shots and penetrations to the Boilers as the 2-3 zone went lax and inactive in spurts. Holding on to a 39-31 lead at the half, the Irish opened the second half on a 7-0 run in the first 3 minutes to give themselves a 15 point lead. The lead ballooned to 23 when Jack Cooley gave the Irish a 56-33 advantage with 10:37 left in the game.
But the young Boilermakers were not through and led by freshman Rapheal Davis' 21 second half points, Purdue cut the lead all the way down to 9 as they took advantage of ND's mix of mismatches and lax defense.
In the end, it was too little too late for Matt Painter's squad as Eric Atkins, Pat Connaughton, Jack Cooley and Jerian Grant all took their turns hitting multiple free throws down the stretch for the Irish to hold on to a 81-68 win over their in-state rivals.
Now some quick thoughts and observations:
- I really like the play of Pat Connaughton so far this season. The sophomore sensation - who as EVERY ANNOUNCER EVER has told you is also a pitcher for the baseball team and can throw a pitch between 92-95 mph (btw announcers, make a decision what is fastball really is) - is taking the ball to the rim in dribble penetrations, hitting his open 3s with more frequency and showing a knack for rebounding a defense.
- Jack Cooley really looks like a Big East POTY candidate and looks like a second round draft pick. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that would happen 3 years ago.
- Boy is Eric Atkins good or what? He's really good. He's really really good. I just hope he's not too burned out by the end of the season. But he likely will be - thank God for Demetrius Jackson next year huh? Again, FINAL FOUR 2014!
- So "The Traitor" had himself another nice night on the boards (8 rebounds) but really got exposed on defense a few times and did not score for the last 37 minutes of the game. We'll need better from our captain in league play.
- Rapheal Davis was so hot during the second half that.... I can't think of a pun. I'm too tired. Make one yourself. But he looked like a real diaper dandy out there. Early favorite for B1G freshman of the year maybe?
- Garrick Sherman played 18 minutes and Cameron Biedscheid played 12 minutes tonight. I think we'd all really like to see those numbers go up a little more.