2010 NCAA BAsketball Tournament Recap
NCAA Tournament First Round Recap - Purdue vs Siena
(4) Purdue 72, (13) Siena 64
Purdue proved a lot of amateur bracketologists wrong on Friday by holding off the Siena Saints, who might lead the tournament field in underdog chic.
Siena, the trendy pick to pull off a 13-versus-four upset, did look every bit as good as the Big Ten tri-champs for the first 20 minutes. But the Boilermakers, led by big man JaJuan Johnson’s 23 points and 15 rebounds, had an answer. Energized on the defensive end by senior Chris Kramer, the lads from West Lafayette, Ind., will somehow survive and advance. Improbably, the team that spent the bulk of the season comfortably in the national top ten was able to outlast the MAAC champions.
All sarcasm aside, it was an impressive victory for the Boilermakers, who flexed their muscle in the second half. A late 10-0 Saints run put a scare into Purdue, as Siena drew to within three points in the final minute, but the Boilermakers put it away at the free throw line.
Early on, Siena power forward Alex Franklin did his best Charles Barkley impersonation, setting sneaky, moving hip-check screens, grabbing every rebound in sight, and throwing down a highlight-reel putback dunk that got the Saints rolling in the first half.
The wispy Johnson (6'10" and just 215 pounds) couldn't handle the burly Franklin, built like Barkley at 6'5" and 226. On a few occasions, Johnson settled for 15-foot jump shots instead of battling for position inside.
Later in the first half, Purdue coach Matt Painter put the thicker Kramer on Franklin. Franklin may have set the tone early, but Kramer was the center of attention later on. Early in the second stanza, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year was mixing it up with the Saints, engaging in a staredown with a Siena player on more than one occasion.
Siena led 32-29 at halftime, but the Boilermakers showed their strength after the break, thanks in large part to Kramer's energy and three 3-pointers by senior Keaton Grant.
Grant is a secondary scoring option Purdue needs to take pressure off of Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. His treys were part of a 13-0 run early in the second half that gave the Boilers a lead they would never relinquish.
Franklin went scoreless in the second half for Siena. Johnson, not coincidentally, got more comfortable on his way to one of the best performances of his career.
That's what it's all about for Johnson: being comfortable. He'll likely be the best player on the floor on Sunday, when Purdue takes on fifth-seeded Texas A&M, a winner over No. 12 Utah State in the second installment of the day session in Spokane, Wash.Purdue got the job done today without a huge contribution from Moore, who scored 12 quiet points. If Moore and Grant heat up from outside, the Boilers will move on to the Sweet 16.
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