A.L.: Purdue finds its third scorer

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  • Purdue seniors E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson have been great all year. That's no secret. Also no secret is that Purdue's offense has stalled in games when only Moore and Johnson were able to produce. Without Robbie Hummel, the Boilermakers have to get consistent scoring elsewhere, whether as a group effort or from a designated third option. They may just have found it in guard Ryne Smith. So sayeth the Big Ten Geeks, who broke down Purdue's convincing win at Penn State Wednesday and Smith's contributions therein today: "Penn State's 2-3 zone was fairly effective for stretches, especially in the first half when JaJuan Johnson got only two shot attempts that weren't following an offensive rebound--and one of those shots was a three. It looked like a good defensive strategy at times, but Purdue has a zone-buster that is absolutely unconscious right now in Ryne Smith. The junior guard played his role--knocking down standstill threes--to the tune of 20 points on just 5 shots. Smith is now 12 for 18 from three (67 percent) in Big Ten play. That won't continue, but it's clear that Smith's former accuracy issues (29.6 percent coming into the season) are now behind him."

  • Basketball Prospectus's Kevin Pelton writes that Washington should be able to replace the injured Abdul Gaddy's productivity by moving Isaiah Thomas to the point and filling in scoring needs with a variety of bench contributors: "While Gaddy starts, he’s part of a relatively even timeshare with Venoy Overton, who played the stretch run during last week’s overtime win at USC. Lorenzo Romar may want to keep Overton in a reserve role, where his energy can change games, but the senior is capable of ramping up his playing time to help cover the loss of Gaddy. The bigger change for the Huskies will be Isaiah Thomas playing regular minutes at point guard. Though Thomas is a candidate for the Cousy Award, he has almost exclusively played the two. But Thomas has improved his playmaking this season–his assist rate has improved from 19.5 to 23.3, not far behind Gaddy (24.8) and Overton (25.1)–and Washington is often more difficult to guard with Thomas at the point because that means putting another shooter on the floor. In Scott Suggs, Terrence Ross and C.J. Wilcox, the Huskies have three reserve wings worthy of being part of the rotation. Suggs and Wilcox boast True Shooting Percentages above 60 percent, while Ross has been prolific at average efficiency."

  • Luke Winn profiles Ohio State's offense, which is freaky good because OSU does something most teams can't. They simultaneously force turnovers (typically the provenance of aggressive, foul-prone teams) but commit fouls at the lowest rate in the nation.

  • Believe it or not, Karen Cunagin Sypher simply refuses -- literally and figuratively -- to go away.

  • Gary Parrish thinks Tennessee is one of those teams that plays up, and down, to its competition. Maybe so, but the Vols have plenty of underlying problems -- poor shooting, for one -- that have hurt them in games against good and bad teams alike.

  • Rob Dauster pokes a bevy of holes in Rick Stansbury's lame, excuse-filled news conference yesterday.

  • Bylaw Blogger John Infante discusses soul-crushing compliance days, the NCAA's general regulation strategy, and why reform calls for immediate, not delayed, action: "It’s that developing a whole new strategy is going to take time, and time is not on the NCAA’s side. Every year that passes without a consistent direction in men’s basketball recruiting reform is a year that the NCAA loses ground to the people they are combating. As the NCAA reviews the landscape, nefarious third-parties think up new ways to control the college decisions of prospects and profit from that control. Without spending enough time, perhaps years getting the membership on board, the legislation that comes out of this review as early as next August will suffer the same fate as the legislation proposed by the Board of Directors last year. A cohesive plan is picked apart by the membership who adopts the proposals it likes and discards the rest."

  • You may have missed this in the midst of the Jimmer festivities last night, but Kyle Singler became college basketball's latest 2,000-point career scorer in Duke's easy win over UAB Wednesday night.

  • Ken Pomeroy updates his kPOY list. Jared Sullinger is still tops, but as Pomeroy writes: "Let’s own up to it -- this year’s player of the year race is still open to be claimed and to me, that feels somewhat unusual for January. Most of the players in the chase for the inaugural kPOY had rather sluggish efforts coming out of the holiday break. This opened the door for something like E’Twaun Moore’s 31-point effort against Northwestern, which vaulted him from obscurity to a legitimate kPOY candidate. However, based on what we saw against Iowa last night, I’d still be shocked if Jared Sullinger doesn’t stay at the top of the list from here on out."

  • And, of course, some ESPN stuff: Here's my Big 12 Primer just in time for the start of conference opens play this week, as well as Diamond on the Mountain West, Andy on Conference USA, and Dana on the Atlantic-10; Be sure to check out Dana's fantastic profile of UAB guard Aaron Johnson, who currently leads the nation in assists; and here's Fran Fraschilla's interesting breakdown of the Big East.