The last eight minutes or so in Purdue's 67-62 win Wednesday night at Iowa Coach Matt Painter used an all-guard lineup, including 6-foot-8 Robbie Hummel and 6-8 Scott Martin.
Because Painter felt that would be a better strategy to use against an Iowa team, which is much more guard-oriented than say Purdue's upcoming opponent - Illinois.
That's why you say Hummel and Martin on the floor, along with Chris Kramer, Keaton Grant and E'Twaun Moore and/or Marcus Green, in crunch time and not JaJuan Johnson or Nemanja Calasan.
"First of all, our big guys have done a good job," Painter said, "but they (the Hawkeyes) don't throw the ball to their big guys. They're guard-oriented at Iowa so when you switch everything out, that's just easier for us to defend as a team so it's nothing anyone on our team has done, you're just looking at different lineup that helps you.
"Offensively to put five guys out there that can use their dribble, pass, shoot from the arc
it spreads things out and opens things up. I thought it would help us on both ends just having those guys out there.
"But I told our guys last night in the locker room, 'You're going to turn around and play a different way against a different team,'" Painter added. "When we go small like that, we're trying to spread people, trying to be more flexible, trying to give them a different look, but we've been able to finish games a couple times that way and it's really helped us."
Of course, Bruce Weber's Fighting Illini rely heavily on their post players, particularly 6-8 Brian Randle and 6-10 Shaun Pruitt.
What's Got Into Grant?
It's almost scary to think how much Grant has improved this season compared to his rookie campaign.
Grant shot 36.7 percent from the field (51-of-139), including 26.6 percent from three-point territory (17-of-64), in 2006-07.
This season, however, the sophomore from Kissimmee, Fla., is shooting 44.6 percent from the floor (54-of-121), knocking down an impressive 47.1 percent of his triples (32-of-68). Grant is second in the Big Ten, behind Minnesota's Blake Hoffarber, in three-point shooting.
"He's put some time in on his shooting," Painter said. "He's always been a good player, a guy who likes to play the game and enjoys competition.
"I thought he did a great job last year playing the role he did. At the end of the year, he did a good job of pressuring the ball. Slowly but surely he's developed into a guy that can consistently make shots for us. He's done a good job of when he gets his feet set of just stepping into it and knocking it down, but he's also doing other things to help us win.
"What we're striving with him to do is be a good basketball player, not just a good shooter, and I think he's going in that direction," Painter added. "Sometimes when guys start making shots, they get consumed with that. We need him to step up and make shots for us and take good shots. That's something that is probably a staple would like to say for our team and right now we're not doing that on a consistent basis. We still have stretches in games where we have guys that don't take good shots."
The 6-4, 207-pounder, who had a career-high 22 points against the Hawkeyes (on 6-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-6 from long range and 6-of-6 from the free throw line), leads the team in scoring, averaging 11.4 points per game after contributing 4.4 an outing a year ago.
Grant is also doing an excellent job at the charity stripe. He's shooting 83.8 percent from the stripe (31-of-37, which is fourth in the Big Ten), second only to Hummel's 86.7 percent (52-of-60, second).
Not bad for a player considered to be Purdue's best perimeter defender.
Legendary Purdue coach Gene Keady doesn't shy away from complimenting the Boilermakers while serving as a studio analyst on the Big Ten Network.
Last night Keady raved about the Boilermakers' shooting performance in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, saying it was the best he's ever seen a Purdue team shoot in that building.
Purdue hit all 12 of its free throws and connected on 45.8 percent of its three-pointers, which is really an impressive stat when you consider the Old Gold and Black attempted 24 long-range shots (hitting 11). The Boilermakers, however, didn't exactly shoot lights out from the floor overall, as they were 22-of-57 (38.6 percent).
"Sometimes it's guys just feeling comfortable," said Painter when asked why his team shot the ball so well last night. "One of our guys (Grant) hit's four threes and E'Twaun hits three in the second half.
"We were able to go in there and practice the night before and come to shoot around (on Wednesday) just like any other game so it's good that our guys are stepping up and making shots."
In conference games only, Purdue finds itself second in the Big Ten in three-point percentage at 42.4 behind Wisconsin's 46.0.
This And That
• Four games into the 18-game Big Ten regular season and the Boilermakers find themselves leading the league in free throw percentage (77.1), tied for the top spot in defending the three-point line (27.0 percent), No. 1 in blocked shots (5.0 per game) and three-pointers made (9.0 per game).
All the aforementioned rankings are for conference games only.
• You may have noticed Hummel's pinky on his right hand being wrapped. Purdue sports information director Elliot Bloom said early this season Hummel snagged the finger on an airplane seat and cut it slightly. It wasn't severe at the time, but ever since that time, he's kept it wrapped.
• Saturday's game against Illinois is listed as a sellout, but that doesn't necessarily mean there won't be tickets available.
Purdue is emphasizing that more tickets may be available if the students do not pick up their allotment. Call 800-49-SPORT for the latest on ticket availability.
Last Saturday, the Ohio State game was a sellout, but there were some empty seats up high above the tunnel in Mackey Arena.
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