Boilers Roll Over Rutgerzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Big Players play big: Hammons playing well, consistently Where's the Kid?: Stephens continues to turn the ball over and shoot poorly
Synopsis: An ugly B1G road win is still beautiful.
A total of three players scored in double digits in Purdue's first visit to play Rutgers as a B1G foe...on both teams. The guy who led all scorers had 17 points.
Sadly, it wasn't great defense that defined this one...it was overall poor play by both teams. The really good news was the game ended up in the left hand column for the good guys.
With just 7 minutes left in the game, Purdue had a 20 point lead...a four minutes later, the lead that the Boilers held the entire game had shrunk to single digits. Purdue simply had a hard time staying focused and intense, and seemingly drifted to sleep at the wheel. With a bit over 3 minutes left, and a mere eight point lead, not only did I not sense any panic from Purdue, I didn't feel any myself, as I labored through the closing minutes of this one.
RayDay, Hammons and Octeus did enough in the final three minutes to close it out as a double-digit victory for the good guys, 61-51.
Hammons was consistently good all night...and really that's about it. He finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals. Davis played solidly, but had a few defensive lapses that were uncharacteristic of Purdue's best defender. He had 13 points and 5 rebounds. Prime had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 0 turnovers.
During the Minnesota game, Purdue had a ten minute lapse that costed them the game. During that stretch, they couldn't really get the ball past half court, let alone score. They really didn't deserve to win in Minnesota. In New Brunswick, they didn't play a ton better...but did deserve to take home the W.
Earlier tonight, Purdue only turned the ball over 12 times...That's good!
But got out-rebounded...by Rutgers...by seven. That's bad.
The good guys hit nearly 70% of their freebies and went to the line EIGHTEEN more times than they did v. Minny. That's good!!
But they shot 20% from three point land and didn't pick up where they left off in the barn on Saturday. That's bad.
If you watched, you did your penance as a Purdue fan. This was a tough one to stick with- Rutgers is a bad team...and during stretches of tonight's game, in front of a few thousand whimpering fans, Purdue played to their level.
But the positives drastically outweigh the negatives. Winning on the road, even against a bad team, is a very good thing. The Forces of Good exceeded their win total from last season, and tied the win total from two seasons ago. That's a baby step of progress...but opportunities to do much more this season still abound.
Purdue will play at least seven more games (six in the conference schedule, one in the B1G tourney). Three of those games have to be victories for Purdue to merely stay on the bubble. If they steal an additional win versus IU, aOSU or MSU on the road to reach 20 wins, I think they're in the real post-season.
Mackey Arena will be full or nearly full on Sunday afternoon when Nebraska visits. Despite of some foolish prognostication by BTN personalities, Nebraska doesn't belong near the top of the conference...and the second place Purdue Boilermakers should rudely remind them of that this weekend.
A few years ago, I coined the abbreviation CCR (Composite Computer Ranking) when the Boilers were fighting for a spot in the NCAA tournament. The last few seasons, we really didn't need to even think about that or look at any rankings, especially late in the season. But we're halfway through February, Purdue is in second place in the conference and has a real chance at making the tournament; it's good to watch a team that's relevant again...Hopefully they stay that way into March.
Sorry, but the NIT, while better than the CBI, still stinks...and Purdue not going to the NCAA tournament with this team isn't a step forward for the program. Here's to Hammons continuing to play like an NBA prospect, Octeus doing the little things and Davis ratcheting up the defensive intensity once again. Those three have led the way during the last month; Purdue really needs Edwards or Stephens to come on make a bit more noise.
Oh yeah, prior to tonight's tip-off, Purdue's CCR stood at 57- not awful...but clearly there is work left to do. Finish strong, Boilers.