|Jon Leuer anxiously hopes the Boilers don't grab the wrong one.|
Purdue did what they're "supposed" to do in order to make analysts happy and beat a quality team, the tenth-ranked Badgers, 70-62 in Mackey tonight. Of course, some will minimize the impact of the win because:
A) It happened on Purdue's home court.
B) Wisconsin suffered a letdown after beating OSU.
C) Analysts are wankers.
Make no mistake, tonight's win was a big one, and is yet another sign that this team is coming together. They still have their moments where they slip or make some poor decisions on shot selection, but by and large they're good enough to overcome those lapses. Wisconsin is a solid opponent and one who just beat the #1 (and undefeated) team in the nation a few days ago.
However, Purdue quite simply owns Wisconsin in Mackey, as the Badghuhs are now 2-37 all time in our favorite gym. JJ and E'Twaun wind up 6-2 against Wisconsin, including 4-0 at Mackey.
I'd have to find a literate Wisconsin fan to find out if this is true or not, but I get the sense that Bo Ryan does not have confidence coming into West Lafayette. He seemed far less animated than usual, his pregame interview seemed very much of the opinion that they'd need a lot of breaks to beat Purdue, etc. Is it possible Matty, the evil genius, is in the Grinch's head?
I have a special dark place in my heart for Wisconsin fans, mainly because they're among the most obnoxious I've ever come across in any sport at any level. They're kind of a dark horse in that category, much like their football and basketball teams often are. You don't think of them immediately -- unless you've dealt with them a bunch. And I know I'm not alone in this. Many people I've talked to agree that Wisky fans are among the toughest to deal with. So I guess what I'm saying is that I always enjoy it a bit more when Purdue puts a boot on Wisconsin's throat.
As for tonight's game, Wisconsin employed their usual goonish tactics, clutching and grabbing like Boilerdowd at a spring formal in 1995. The officials were once again awful, sometimes calling fouls tightly while other times allowing guys to scrambling over one another after loose balls like an on-sides kick in the fall (in that other sport).
This was also the first time this season that anyone broke 70 points on Wisconsin. Pretty impressive, both that they're managed that and that Purdue accomplished it while being tackled. It also illustrates why Bo Ryan's teams win. When you lock teams down in the 50s and 60s, you always have a chance. And as B-Dowd said on the Handsome Hour last week, the old Wisconsin formula of good point guard play plus a bunch of goons leads to wins in the Big Ten, year after year.
|Bret Bielema likes the form on that tackle!|
As we continue to wind down the careers of JJ and Smooge (hard as that is to believe), the boys continue to play well and lead. JaJuan continues to put up numbers and efforts worthy of Big Ten player of the year status, and honestly of national player of the year consideration. Tonight was yet another outstanding effort, with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and two steals. Oh, hey, did you know he leads the conference in blocked shots? No? Oh, maybe because nobody says it. The guy is a complete player and knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers like Seth Davis need to watch more than three-year-old game tape, or whatever he bases his worthless opinions on. Yes, I'm pissed. JaJuan is putting up an incredible season and he's leading this team in ways a guy who goes on to the next level should.
Whenever Purdue needed a rebound, he got it. Whenever a bucket was needed, as in so many other games this year, there was JJ, either knocking it down or cleaning up the glass and laying in a needed basket.
Smooge got in on the act, too, scoring 19, with none more critical than his late three to put the Boilers back up 7 after Wisconsin had closed a 13 point gap to 4. I had hoped the seniors would come through in those final minutes and they did.
Another guy who came through yet again was the man Gus Johnson was calling "Little Louie," which, sorry Gus, we do not approve of. He's LewJack. Get used to it. He'll be perhaps the best PG in the Big Ten next year. Lew scored 18 tonight, including layups over guys a foot taller, a big three, and five assists...with zero turnovers. One of the dimes was a no-look to E'Twaun who hammered down a dunk over one of the Wisconsin farm boys in his path. Hammer down, indeed.
So tell me, doubters... where will the points come from? How will they get by with only two senior leaders who will be all-Big Ten? Who will step up to put in points when needed? You know, other than LewJack, Ryne, DJ, Terone, Hart....besides all them. WHO?? Oh, right.
One thing I did not like tonight was, again, Purdue's inability to fire the kill shot. I thought when they had a ten point lead at 48-38 and there was a timeout....and then immediately after the TO, the Boilers hit a three to go up 13, that was it. It was a little over ten minutes to go in the game and it looked over at 51-38. However, Wisconsin has shown many times that they're not concerned with being able to come back, and they did their thing, whittling it down to four points. Fortunately, though, the honkeys weren't able to hit the big shots in the end, with that doof Bruesewitz firing away. Sure, he hit a big one against OSU, but he's 15 of 43 on the year from behind the arc. Keep firing away, pal. I especially like the ones that make the rim reverberate so loudly we can hear it over the crowd.
In the end, the Boilers withstood the comeback and, really, there is no shame in having the #10 team in the nation give you a game. The truth is, the Boilers took the lead early in the first half and never gave it back. And hey, let's be honest, there are some teams in the Big Ten whose students would riot on campus if they beat the #10 team in the country. For the Boilers, it was simply a win they had to have as they continued their slow march towards...well..March.
So often, teams get caught looking ahead. It would have been very easy to be thinking about the rematch with Ohio State on Sunday. But this team is focused and that remains one of Coach Matty's strengths -- keeping their minds on the task at hand. I like that trait in a team.
The Boilers are now two games behind Ohio State with five games to go. The Bucks come to Mackey on Sunday, for Smooge and JJ's second-to-last home game.
It's time to play hard.