KU faced another tough opponent in Purdue on Sunday Night. Purdue, a lower ranked team, had given many top Big 10 teams a good game throughout the year. Purdue also plays great defense and makes very few mistakes. This Purdue team showed up last night. They had a great defensive game plan for Thomas Robinson and the defense frustrated KU’s offense causing them to shoot only 30 percent from the field.
The game couldn’t have started out any worse for KU with Purdue starting out the game on an 11-2 run as forward Robbie Hummel scored 9 out of their first 11 points. KU couldn’t generate any offense during the first half. Purdue made Thomas Robinson a non-factor offensively for most of the first half. Purdue would triple team Thomas and force Thomas to either take a bad shot or he would pass the ball out to a wide open shooter. KU had trouble defensively as well in the first half trying to guard Robbie Hummel. KU originally had Thomas Robinson on Robbie Hummel, but with Robbie Hummel being able to hit the three, Thomas was no match. KU then had Kevin Young guard Robbie Hummel, but Kevin picked up 2 quick fouls and went back to the bench. Robbie Hummel finished the first half with 22 points. KU trailed at the half 36-30.
The start of the second half didn’t look promising for Kansas as well with Purdue starting the half on a 10-2 run. Bill Self switched up his defense to match-up zone which slowed down Purdue’s offense. Robbie Hummel only scored 4 points for the rest of the game .With this change in defense, KU started to make some shots offensively. Elijah Johnson, a junior shooting guard, led the charge offensively, making a three pointer and completing a three point play (the old fashion way). With a perimeter player stepping his game up this allowed the middle of the defense to open and allowed Thomas Robinson to face less double and triple teams. Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson carried the team offensively for the rest of the game. KU won the close game 63-60 and will advance to North Carolina State in the sweet 16. Elijah Johnson played the best game of his career finishing with 18 points 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Thomas Robinson finished the game with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
KU played the worst game of the year against Purdue. Purdue should have won the game and dominated KU for 35 minutes of the game. However, I think this game will be a wake call for KU and show them can’t start sluggish and expect to win games. I thought KU was exposed against Purdue. Purdue showed that you can eliminate Jeff Withey from the game by having a more guard oriented line up on the floor. Jeff Withey only had 4 points in 15 minutes of playing time. However, KU will not shoot 30 percent from the floor for the rest of the tournament. This was by far their worst game of the year offensively.
KU’s next opponent in the sweet sixteen will be North Carolina State. While I don’t think KU will have a hard time matching up with North Carolina State, I think this could end up being a much harder game for KU. First they have a two power forwards that I feel can both guard Thomas Robinson in C.J Leslie and Richard Howell. C.J Leslie is there best player who leads them in scoring with 14 points a game and is second in the team with 7 rebounds a game. Also they have a good back court with a great point Lorenzo Brown who averages 13 points 5 rebounds and 7 assists a game. The key for this game is Jeff Withey. Withey will need to be tenacious on the defensive end because most of their points are in the paint from C.J Leslie and Richard Howell. He will also need to rebound well in this game because North Carolina State can give a lot of team trouble in rebounds. In the end I think this will be a very close game, but I feel that KU is more talented and experienced so KU should be playing in the Elite 8 this weekend.