Hammons Returns, Purdue Big Men Dominate Incarnate Word
As the cliche goes, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Incarnate Word, in just its third year as a Division I program, didn't beat #21-ranked Purdue, but as the Cardinals lost 96-61, they tried early to take a page from this year's Boiler squad by staying in the game with outside shots.
However, unlike a Purdue team which made 18 baskets from distance against Vermont on Sunday, the visitors from San Antonio couldn't keep it up and couldn't score consistently anywhere else on the floor. Just nine Cardinal baskets came from two-point range.
As they did against Vermont, the Boilers used some very hot streaks on offense to build their lead.
They made nine of their last 11 shots to close the first half, en route to shooting 72-percent over the first 20 minutes and 60-percent (34-of-57) for the game. Meanwhile, the Cardinals shot just 28-percent (21-of-74).
On the night when senior center A.J. Hammons played his first game of the year following coach Matt Painter's shadowy two-game benching during He's-Got-Stuff-To-Take-Care-Of-Gate, the Boilers did plenty of damage in the paint, outscoring the Cardinals 38-14 inside, manhandling the visitors 56-19 on the boards and blocking 13 of their shots.
For the game, Hammons chipped in eight points and six rebounds, but it could be hard for him to displace sophomore Isaac Haas, who started and registered another double-double (17 points, 12 rebounds) and is now averaging 15 and eight, respectively.
The Redbirds got a solid game from senior forward Kyle Hittle, who sank five of six three-point tries and tied for high scoring honors with Haas and UIW guard Jontrell Walker at 17 points apiece.
One spot of worry for the home team was its 22 turnovers -- more than double the team's average of nine from the first two games of the year, even though the miscues led to just 11 Cardinal points.
Purdue plays Old Dominion Friday in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament in Uncasville, Connecticut.