Neither ice nor snow, streaky shooting nor illegal picks can keep this Purdue team from beating Wisconsin. Matty Painter's club has now beaten Bucky four straight times.
Purdue went up to Madison and played a simply desperate team in the Kohl Center. Wisconsin tried to beat Purdue up early, literally, but thuggish tactics by Krabbenhoft and Co. fell short in the end. Bo Ryan wisely guided his Badgers into playing their old-school, slow-down, beat-em-up style of basketball that I've grown to detest over the past seven seasons, but the tactic that's earned Wisky so many BT titles wasn't enough this evening, and hasn't been enough this season.
Dead-eye shooting by Smooge, Grant, Hummel and even Kramer helped resurrect Purdue back from a 5 point deficit with about thee minutes remaining...but Johnson's two free throws put the game on ice. Is this guy growing up before our eyes or what? After missing the opportunity to end the Illinois game at the free throw line earlier this season, Johnson's been mentally tough enough to clinch two wins at the charity strip. I can't wait until this guy puts on a bit more weight...the rest of the league isn't looking forward to it as much. But even without the extra bulk, JJ has been able to flex his muscles for much of the season.
My favorite moment of this game was a small detail- with around three and one half minutes remaining, there was a dead ball under Wisconsin's bucket...the camera focused in on Moore- Smooge didn't look flustered or panicked as Purdue was staring a possible 7 or 8 point deficit in the face, he looked cool, no icy. This team showed this last year- an unflappability that you can't teach. Not everybody on the squad naturally has it, but two guys definitely do- and when they're in the groove, everyone else feeds off of it. It's official now; Purdue is once again a threat to the top of the league. If they come out of the next two games unscathed, they'll undoubtedly be re-considered as a contender.
Purdue's signature defense, and specifically, Kramer's pressure on the ball are the foundation of what makes this team tick...But, our Boilers have found the offensive rhythm that they so desperately sought just weeks ago. In fact, none of Purdue's 8 players who played shot less than 50% on the night...that's tough for an opponent to overcome.
Next up, both J and I will be in attendance at Mackey as our Boilers seek to make it a half-dozen wins in a row. Purdue plays Michigan on Saturday at 1:00 with the nation watching on CBS. Tune in and listen for me to be the only person in the arena louder than Chris Kramer's Mom.
Is anything more annoying than the team of Lavin and Mussberger? Those two mouth-breathers almost make it not worth having Erin Andrews on the TV...almost.
Smooge's line- 17pts., 7/9, 6 ast. 1 stl, 1 TO...not bad, if you're into that sort of thing.