This game can be broken down into four distinct sections:
First 26 minutes:
Purdue shoots around 30% from the FT line, misses a ton of gimmes, misses second chance shots and digs themselves a hole that looked like it wouldn't be overcome...I believe they were down by 10 at the end of this stanza.
Next 12 minutes:
After having their mettle tested by a hostile crowd, one-sided officiating and atrocious shooting, Purdue fought out of the hole. The play that made me think Purdue would win was a fight for a loose ball that started on the baseline and ended up near half court with Byrd calling a timeout while surrounded by three Nova defenders. Nova continued to ratchet up the physicality...but not by playing tough defense, but by handing out cheap shots after plays were over. A play that showed this- After a big three by Byrd, a Nova forward ran into him and took out his legs...no call. I honestly don't blame Villanova for making it into a brawl...if the officials allow it, do it. And since they couldn't get back into the game any other way, they were resourceful.
During this period, Purdue took the lead, extended it to eight and were keeping 'Nova at arm's length (around 5 points) in spite of continued struggles from the FT line. Even with missed second shots from the stripe, Purdue's defense kept them in the driver's seat.
The Ref's Big Moment in the Big Apple:
After Terone Johnson was forearmed in the face, the officials didn't think the foul was flagrant nor should it be reviewed...that was around six minutes remaining in the game. Please keep in mind that this officiating crew stopped play around five times to review other issues. Not only were they bad at calling the live game, they were bad at reviewing video.
With around four minutes to go, one of Nova's forwards intentionally tripped RonJohn as he broke a trap in the press. An official begrudgingly blew the whistle as Johnson's awkward fall forced the issue.
Then, this officiating crew's finest hour came.
|Taking it for the team...kinda.|
With the bright lights of NYC on them and a national TV audience watching, these clowns grabbed the spotlight and put on a show. As Byrd was trapped in the corner about 80 feet from the Purdue basket, he tried to protect the ball by bringing it high. He was not only charged with his fifth foul, but also a flagrant. The result was a four point Villanova possession and a loss of a possession for Purdue.
No one will debate that Byrd shouldn't have gone into the corner...but the officials literally took the game out of the players' hands and decided it for themselves in the closing minutes.
Both AJ and Byrd fouled out in regulation...and the foul differential at that point was nine, in favor of 'Nova. Hey, that happens...and it especially happens when a team's on the road and they're young...but there's no excuse for the inconsistency with which this game was called.
|Eye is part of the ball.|
The Big Letdown
After Purdue fought back to turn the tide, the game went into overtime...and Purdue was toast. Perhaps they were already exhausted from the last comeback or the youthful squad just didn't know how to handle the pressure...regardless, Purdue was beaten badly in overtime...both on the scoreboard and on the court...as Purdue never really challenged in the extra 5:00 period. Good guys lose 89-81
Byrd had 16, 5 and 5...RonJohn had 12 points, 9 assists as he continues to impress...TJohn had 13, 4 and 4...and Hale had 11pts and 6 rebound. After that, a ton of guys continued to contribute. And while Lawson might not be filling the stat sheet, I don't know how he stays out of the starting lineup much longer. His energy isn't being matched by anyone on the team right now.
To be Fair...
Now, whenever a team shoots 57% from the FT line, they're killing themselves...and making victory much tougher than it needs to be. I'd say this problem is officially an epidemic. It reared its ugly head early last season and is back, yet again, early this year. This must be rectified and in a hurry.
Purdue also shot just 22% from behind the arc. But honestly, they weren't shooting much better from inside the lane in the first half. If Matty's boys hadn't put themselves such an awful position, they would have never needed to storm back.
What we're seeing is the process of maturation...and it's painful. This game was a microcosm of what the pre-conference has been and will probably continue to be- periods in which the young guys look overmatched followed by flashes of brilliance.
In a young season, Purdue has two losses already...and in the next 9 games before the B1G season begins, Purdue will play 4 potential NCAA tourney teams...so it doesn't get much easier.
In order for Purdue to make the tournament, they're going to need to grow up quickly. The good news is, they can get this rotten taste out of their mouths tomorrow night at 5:00...as they play Oregon State this time, once again in MSG.
I guess it's a good thing it's only November. While this one had the feel of a game in March, there's still a ton of basketball to be played and plenty of opportunities for this team to begin forging an identity.