Boilers Wake Up In Time To Rip Out PSU's Heart, 65-64
For the second time this season, Matty and his band of basketball pirates commendeered a victory and placed it in the left-hand column.
Much like the NKU game, Purdue was uninspired for much of the contest, played horribly, yet ripped the game away at the last-possible moment. Tonight, it was a seemingly-lucky, off-balance three point shot, followed by a defensive stop, followed by a brilliant play call (that's right, Purdue ran an actual play that worked) in which Jay Simpson dropped a dime from 45 feet away in to Hammons...who was fouled.
Let's break down the elements really quickly...with an extra preamble:
PSU had the ball with a three point lead and under a minute to play. Purdue wasn't going to foul, instead just wanted a stop and to get the ball back. Sooooo...PSU dribbled around, made a pass and, for some reason, forced a three point shot as the shot clock dwindled.
Purdue got the ball with a three point deficit and no idea how to get a good three point shot. RonJohn pounded the ball aimlessly as he waited for his brother, The Kid or someone else to get open. Instead, TJohn got the ball on the left side as the clock ticked, dribbled left and absolutely NAILED a prayer from 21 feet...and the game was tied.
PSU inbounds the ball around half court to Frazier (who torched Purdue). He turned it over a few seconds later and Purdue got it across half court and called a timeout.
After a timeout, Matty made his best coaching move of the season by having AJ Simpson take the ball out just a few feet to his left (Aneesh will have video proof in a day or so). 1.4 seconds were on the clock when the official handed the ball to Simpson. Simpson threw a Brees-esque pass to Hammons who ripped the ball down and attempted to get a shot off. PSU was whistled for foul.
Refs took two or three hours to figure out that there would be 1.1 seconds left on the game clock as Hammons took two free throws.
Famous high school coach joyfully reacts to Hammons getting fouled
Hammons splashes the first free throw.
Hammons intentionally misses the second, Frazier rebounds, takes a couple dribbles and misses a 60 footer.
Time to Play Hard?
My pal J wanted the above as the title as this one...but that was when Purdue looked like they were about to lose their third B1G game.
Throughout the game the ESPNU D Broadcast team made references to the "Play Hard" mantra. Ironically, Purdue played soft...played tired...played disinterested...played like the game didn't matter...for about 25 minutes of this game.
After a great start to the game, Purdue had a ten point lead and looked to be in cruise control. Instead, they locked the car into a safe speed, and tucked themselves in for a nap.
That nap yielded Hammons very few looks and ZERO points from the floor. That slumber allowed a sloppy PSU team to shred Purdue, especially in the backcourt. PSU's starting guards had 36 points, 20 rebounds and 8 assists. Their Purdue counterparts had 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Purdue's guards, especially the Brothers Johnson couldn't stay with Frazier and Newbill. The only player that was somewhat effective on defense on PSU's dynamic duo was Bryson Scott.
But the Kid shot well...especially in the first ten minutes. He had 3 three pointers in that stanza...ended the game with 12 points and 2 rebounds. His classmate, B Smooth had 12 points and 10 rebounds...one of those could have been a turning point for Purdue as our Boilers tried to climb back into the game in the closing two minutes. BUT, Smotherman missed one of his two subsequent free throws that made this strong board less poignant.
None of Purdue's guards were too interested in feeding Hammons the ball for much of the game...which was OK, because The Hammonster wasn't very interested in calling for it. But when he'd finally get fed, he'd quickly go up really weak and get the ball knocked out of his hands. I can remember at least four possessions in which Hammons had the ball within three feet of the bucket and Purdue came away with no points and no FTs. But Hammons shot the free throws pretty well until the final few minutes. He hit his first 8 free throws before missing two straight...but he hit the one Purdue really needed.
TJohn had 14 points, 5 rebounds, was only 4-11 from the field...BUT hit one very important shot from deep...and almost as noteworthy, went 5-6 from the FT line.
Purdue was not too bad from the charity stripe; 22-30...but many of those misses looked like they would surely spell Purdue's doom in the final few minutes. But Purdue didn't give up on this game, in spite of people like me (and by like me, I mean me) giving up on this game. At the 5:00 mark, I was sure Purdue would lose by 7 or 8 points...at the 3:00 mark, I was positive they'd lose by 3-5 points...at the 1:00 mark, I thought they'd lose by 2 or 3 because they wouldn't be able to make shots down the stretch.
I was wrong...and loved it.
A loss at home to the 0-5 PSU kitties would have more than negated the big win at Illinois. But instead, Purdue got the win and held on to dreams (or delusions, depending on you perspective) of an NCAA tournament appearance. Purdue simply must win the next game versus the suddenly-hot Mildcats (on the road), who beat the IU Courtstormers (in Ass Hall, no less) a few hours before Purdue's improbably victory tonight.
The facts about this team are plain to see- when Purdue plays hard, when Purdue fights, when Hammons is inspired, Purdue is a tough team. When they are sweepy, they play like they did tonight...and look like a MAC team. But, even when uninspired, even when lousy, they seem to find some creative ways to win...which is better than the alternative that we saw over and over last season.
Purdue tips off at 9:00 on Tuesday v. Northwestern on BTN.
AJ was wide-awake at the free throw line...this helped Purdue earn an important W.