Tuesday, February 03, 2009
I thought Purdue would have a tough time with aOSU with Robbie Hummel playing. Without him, I didn't think they'd be able to compete. Now, if you also add into the equation that the Buckeyes might shoot 50%, I'd think coming close would be darned-near impossible.
Well, how about this scenario- Calasan all but a no-show in the second half, Marcus Green catching the flu that Grant and others have had, Kramer in foul trouble in the second half, the Ostrich out as his back flared up yet again, Smooge deciding it'd be a good night to simply not take shots (he took 5 less than his average), AND Purdue would allow aOSU to shoot over 60% from the field...Pretty horrible situation; and that's what happened tonight. Purdue's free throw shooting (82%) and JJ in the post (30 points), kept them in the game, and almost helped them pull out the improbable victory. In fact, Purdue had the ball with 27.9 seconds left, no time-outs and the ball under aOSU's basket...but the Buckeyes defense (and Purdue's poor preparation) left the ball in LewJack's hands as the seconds wound down. He got off a bad shot after a no-call reach in, and time expired in regulation. In overtime, the Buckeyes nailed the coffin shut.
During the contest, Purdue lost the rebounding battle by 15, couldn't stop the back door plays by the Buckeyes...and maybe the worst news of all for me as an observer, I had the sheer joy of watching both Hightower and Hillary oversee the game. Whoopee!
In all seriousness, the effort was there all night...and getting to overtime was a feat in itself. That said, all anyone will see tomorrow is that Purdue lost by eight points...and the streak of losing in Columbus, that extends back 11 years will continue.
As a team, you're probably going to win games when you shoot 60%, at least you should...and aOSU did just that. Evan Turner is a smart and skilled ball player and showed it tonight as he did everything the Buckeyes needed him to do. William Buford went 10-14 from the field, and B.J. Mullens went 8-9 (granted, Purdue wouldn't body him out, so he was dunking wide open over and over and over and...). But, the player that impressed me the most was P.J. Hill. She's gone through a lot to get where she is...and has to be proud to be the first female to play basketball with the guys in the Big Ten...hats off to Patricia Jane!
I kid, I kid.
A seven-player roster simply isn't going to win a lot of games in the Big Ten- let alone one that does not contain a player than many thought would be all-conference. And Purdue showed this earlier in the season as Hummel sat out for much of the Illinois game and all of the PSU game- the results were both losses.
But, do you want to hear about an even worse trend? Here's how the season has gone so far for Purdue: 5-game win streak, overtime loss to OK, loss in regulation to Duke. 6-game win streak, overtime loss to Illinois, loss to PSU. 6-game win streak, overtime loss to aOSU. If you were a betting man, where would you put your money for Sunday's contest in Champaign?
Unless a miracle occurs with Hummel's back or Purdue is able to successfully call-up some of their signees from high school, I don't think there's any way our Boilers can win the Big Ten title. Kramer is imperative to the Boilers' defense, but Hummel's play is paramount on the glass, on the defensive side and no one helps Purdue's offense get into rhythm like Hummel. The fact is, the margin for error in Purdue's line-up is simply too thin to lose any starter, let-alone Hummel for games at a time. I doubt you'll see Robbie sitting out in five days...but who knows what will happen three days after that as PSU comes to Mackey.
All losses frustrate me, as a fan...but this one did especially since a win was within reach in regulation AND it had been so long since the last victory in Columbus. With the win, aOSU becomes the only team in the Big Ten who has beaten Purdue more than they've lost to them in the history of the conference...The series is now 80-79.