In case you're wondering, I was being sarcastic about that title...
Purdue played about 38 minutes of really good, high energy basketball before allowing old ghosts to define this game as hideous.
With just under two minutes left to play, The Forces of Good were up three points...and they had the ball. A Stephens steal, a couple of big rebounds, a nifty, seemingly-out-of-control assist to Hammons by RonJohn...and all was right in the world. It looked like Purdue's solid defensive effort, smart-ish offense and all-around hustle was going to earn them a victory in regulation.
BUT, TJohn missed two free throws, and Purdue decided not to guard a three point shooter. And the game was tied. After another big rebound and defensive stop, Hammons hit a pair of FTs (good guys up two). Purdue stops another Minny possession, TJohn fouled again. He misses two FTs again, Minny hits a tear drop...and we go into overtime. And the fun ensues.
Ugly...even for Purdue...even for TJohn...missing four-straight free throws is sub-par. If he hits just 50% in the last 90 seconds, the good guys win in regulation...But this Purdue team hates itself...and seems to hate winning. So it desperately began seeking a loss as victory was presented time and again by Minnesota in the subsequent three overtimes.
Minnesota never had a lead in the first two overtimes...but that didn't stop Purdue from refusing to close out. Time and again, It looked like Purdue would complete the victory, but they couldn't do it.
Free throw shooting was a huge part of this one. Including TJohn's six-straight missed FTs, Purdue went 7-of-19 in the final 17 minutes of this extended dance remix of a game. Peck got in on the act by going 1-4 in that same stanza.
But it's really too bad that Purdue ever allowed this one to go into overtime because they played legitimately well for the majority of this game. The really good news is, in typical Purdue fashion (at least when this team wins), they find a way to win ugly.
Peck feeds a Hamm Slammich to Minny
Hammons played really well for stretches of the game- when he exerted his will, Minny had no answer. But when he let his guard down and slipped into a malaise, he'd allow easy buckets. His stats were impressive. In 46 minutes of playing time, he scored 20, rebounded 14, blocked 6 and went 4-6 from the line (most of the made FTs came when Purdue needed them most).
Sterling Carter earned his second-straight start and answered the bell. He looked great to start the game and played pretty solid for most of it. He finished with 10pts, 4rebs, 6ast and just 1 TO...Plus, and probably most-importantly, he was feeding Hammons more consistently than anyone else on the team.
TJohn had a few big plays, but most of them don't show up in his box score...but Purdue really needs more out of him. I'm not going to say anymore than that. His brother had one of the most-quiet and solid games I can remember. In 47 minutes, he looked steady as many of Purdue players showed a ton of fatigue. He scored 11, added 8 rebounds and dished out 8 assists while only having one TO. Pretty damned close to a triple double, he just quietly went about his business and facilitated.
One of the guys that RJ found off of the drive was The Kid. Stephens finished with 14 points and nearly, nearly took this game over. He has tons of room to grow in his game, but it's also obvious that when in rhythm he is a smooth scorer. Much like The Kid, Peck made some big plays at big times. He scored 7 points, added 11 rebounds and 2 blocks, but his three missed free throws nearly ruined his very solid performance. I actually really liked what I saw out of Simpson as well- in just 9 minutes, he had 6 points...one of those was a 19 footer that might be a glimpse of why Painter was so high on him at the beginning of the year. Most importantly, he played a few minutes in the final overtime that allowed Hammons to catch his breath and finish strong so the Boilers could finally earn the victory.
Beautiful passing ends with a Simpson finish
Purdue had to have this one to avoid a second-straight CBI, in my opinion. It was ugly, the overtimes were like a rockfight between my Mom and my wife...but unlike that imaginary battle royale, the spectators were hurt in this one.
One final note, Painter had the squad motivated and ready to play, but his substitution patterns continue to absolutely befuddle me. At times, it seems like he's trying to break guys out of rhythm in the interest of saving them for later...the problem is, it really doesn't work that way. And those substitutions act like an ice block for the hot hand (whether it's Carter or Stephens as we saw tonight). But, if they can win a few at home (regardless of style points) in the next five games, we might all feel a bit better about this season.
Next up, our Boilers head to Value City- their worst venue in the conference during the last decade.