Boilers Fall to the Bulldogs 70-76
Purdue’s late-game complete collapse sealed their fate, losing their Crossroads Classic matchup with Butler 70-76. (Edit: J is the Soup Nazi of scoring reports..."larger scores first". Fine. The score was 76-70. We still lost. Boo. ) Purdue is 0-3 in the Indianapolis basketball showcase, with two losses coming to the Bulldogs.
I don’t usually like doing this, but let’s start at the end. Purdue played a sloppy offensive game, looking completely lost in halfcourt sets and only finding points in transition (or semi-transition). Butler was playing well but not great, and Jim Burr and the refs wanted to make themselves the center of the show (they were awful both ways). The Boilers and Bulldogs were going back and forth, and Butler was holding on to a small lead with 6 minutes to go. Then…collapse. Utter collapse.
The video below summarizes the three (ish) minutes that destroyed our hopes at a comeback:
I might have torn out every hair on my head watching these mistakes. First, Terone (who was Purdue’s designated Jekyll/Hyde Player of the Game, with 20 points and 6 turnovers) gets the ball in to Hammons, who doesn’t have great position to make a move. He’s trying to get the ball back out to the perimeter to reset…and Terone is just standing there. The ball is exposed, and Butler takes advantage with a steal. Next, Kellen Dunham continued his aerial assault with a pure three over Sterling Carter’s fantastic defense. Dunham finished with a game-high 25 points and too many acrobatic daggers to count. All of a sudden, Purdue is down ten. After failing to convert on the offensive end, we are lazy securing the rebound off of a missed Butler free throw and give away another possession. The offense continued to stagnate, and after playing 25 seconds of great defense, Erik Fromm (not exactly a big shooting threat) banks home a three. Even after the deficit ballooned to 15, Purdue seemed completely lost in halfcourt sets, with AJ Hammons fouling out after setting an illegal screen. Purdue went on a last-ditch run with under a minute remaining, but it was too little too late.
Ok…now that I’ve got that off my chest…let’s take a look at the game leading up to that moment with a clearer head. Defensively, AJ Hammons showed brief spots of dominance, but got in to foul trouble early (a lot of his fouls tonight resulted from a lack of “verticality” or jumping straight up while going for a block). Jay Simpson had some nice post moves, but looked awfully flat-footed on defense (stop me if that sounds familiar). An undersized Butler team was having absolutely no difficulty getting in to the paint. Khyle Marshall was absolutely terrorizing Basil Smotherman’s defense, and finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Bryson was decent defensively, aggressive (but often reckless) with the ball, and hit a ridiculous three at the first half buzzer:
That basically summed up Purdue’s offensive start (awful halfcourt set, nobody moving, a near-turnover, and somehow end up putting points up while looking frantic). Purdue’s first half was highlighted by a ton of turnovers, with Ronnie Johnson, Bryson Scott, and Rapheal Davis looking shaky in their decision making. The two bright spots of the first half were Terone Johnson and (surprise!) Travis Carroll. TJ was putting that floater in the lane on display, and used the transition (and follow-up opportunities) to get a lot of his points. Unfortunately he was constantly gambling for steals on the defensive end, which puts the pressure on his teammates to recover when he misses. Tacos was the unlikely source energy off the bench, very active on the boards, played the passing lanes well, and was mildly successful in pick-and-pop jumpers.
Purdue came out of halftime looking like they were ready to play, with RJ looking a little bit better with the ball. They seemed to realize that transition was the only way they were going to score against Butler, and were pushing the ball every chance they got. Then, when Hammons was on the bench in more foul trouble, Purdue couldn’t find a bucket. Ray Davis was being very indecisive when he was given space to work, and nobody could finish at the basket. On the defensive end, everyone seemed to be ball-watching as Butler’s Dunham, Marshall, and Kam Woods took advantage.
But when AJ got back on the court…my goodness. There was a stretch of 3 minutes where Purdue ran the offense exclusively through Hammons, and his dominance exposed Butler’s lack of size. And defensively he was an absolute monster (I’ll compile this for a Video Breakdown on Monday). But that run ended where this post started, when zero perimeter movement by TJ and a turnover in the post led to a complete and utter breakdown into lazy defense and selfish isolation offense. I’ll let Coach Painter sum up my feelings about that stretch:
Purdue had a shot to win this, and the good guys have won close games like this earlier in the season…but maybe this neutral court collapse will be a learning experience. Butler might have been undersized, but they brought a lot of experience and some deadly shooting to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Let’s hope the young Boilermakers identify those mistakes, and maybe run more than one effective halfcourt set.