Boilers Thrash Hoosiers
February 23 of 2011 was the last time Purdue beat IU before tonight.
February 29 of 2012 was the last time Purdue scored at least 80 points on a B1G opponent before tonight.
But streaks of poor play and lethargic basketball can be erased and all-but-forgotten in a mere 40 minutes. But honestly, it only took 30 to know the good guys would prevail earlier this evening.
If you didn't watch it, and you're a Purdue fan, I feel bad for you..but why the hell didn't you watch? Sure the season has been frustrating, but when the evil Hoosiers and the forehead come to God's country, you have to tune in, right?
IU was coming off of a painful collapse v. Penn State...and when news of Perea's DUI came to light yesterday, you had to think it might be a good day- I didn't think it'd be this good of a day for the Forces of Good.
THIS is what I thought we'd see this season. THIS is what Matty probably thought he'd be seeing this season. Make no mistake, THIS was nothing like the rest of '13/'14.
Sure, you expect rivalry games to bring out emotion and the best in players...but generally, that's expected from the guys who know the history. BUT, the difference-maker...the guy who made the good guys 'go' tonight was the one year mercenary out of the Northwest: Mr. Carter.
Sterling Carter has been the only guy on Purdue's roster who has given consistent effort during the last few games...and his effort, emotional play, buying in and selling out for the cause has earned him a new starting role. He played his best game to date tonight (by a lot) finishing with 19 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists...BUT, the timeliness of his three pointers was noteworthy. He went 5-6 behind the arc...and each time IU hit a big shot, numero uno would answer with one of his own from long range...AND, in maybe the biggest play of the second half, Carter smartly took a drive right at Vonleh that earned IU's big man his fourth foul. During the next five minutes, with Vonleh on the bench, Purdue flexed its muscle as we hadn't seen this season, and pretty much put the game out of reach. Then, once Vonleh came back in, Purdue pushed the lead out to 25, before eventually winning by just 18; 82-64.
As Sterling shined, other Boilers sizzled...Hammons, while not filling the stat sheet, had just 7 rebounds and 5 points, BUT, IU was forced to double team him...this opened lanes for Carter and the Brothers Johnson.
RonJohn was rock-solid with 16 and 2...BUT his greatest contributing factor was from the free throw line. He went an un-Johnson-like 8-for-8. And like Carter, he just looked smart. Purdue's on-court team IQ has been rightfully criticized this season...but the diminutive backcourt duo were both great with the ball, played hard-nosed defense and were on the court chasing 50/50 balls all day. TJohn, the third starting guard, got into the act as well. He finished with 14pts, 3rebs, 3ast...but you could tell by the way he was playing, this one mattered. Purdue outrebounded IU by four (39-35), but the 55% three point shooting night by the team was crucial.
But here's the rub- this Purdue team, when motivated...when scratching and clawing is not bad...they're surely not a team that should be going to the CBI. BUT, unless they can play another game or two like this one, that's exactly where they'll be at season's end.
My hope is that we witnessed a fulcrum point of sorts for this team...something I've waited to see for a while. Hustle can gloss over poor shooting...emotion can make mediocre teams respectable...and defense, when it lives in West Lafayette, helps make Mackey Arena kind of magical. It needs to be at least twice more for this season not to look like a failure, of sorts.
Off the bench, RayDay had a hard-earned 7points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. He played with controlled emotion and was a definite spark...and at the same time, the guy that we all hoped to see out-working his opponent, BScott chipped in 5 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. The bench mattered tonight as they did what they're supposed to do- answer the bell when their called and do it in efficient manner. And Painter, while his substitution patterns still vexed me, clearly-outcoached the shiny-headed one...So at least for a few days, all is well for our fanbase. And yes, one game does make a pretty damned big difference in my opinion.
IU fans are pissed tonight. They seem to range between being completely done with Tom Crean , to in utter disbelief that their squad has fallen from the top-3 in the nation to the cellar of the conference in less than 365 days. Hard to believe, but as bad as this season has been for Purdue, the good guys are looking down on IU; in the standings and in the greater scheme, as the candy stripers were simply embarrassed by a seemingly mediocre Purdue squad. And many IU fans and Purdue fans alike agree; the forehead is to blame.
Hopefully, our Boilers can capitalize on the momentum of this win and surprise everyone by beating one of the best teams in the nation in MSU. They'll be at Purdue in five days.