Hack-a-Boiler Fails; Purdue beats Northwestern
Before the season began, this game bothered me for multiple reasons. Purdue playing a zone-first team is really never good…but Northwestern has looked pretty good at times and has two guys in Demps and McIntosh that can shoot the lights out. And while I predicted a loss, Purdue had no business losing to Northwestern, especially at home. Disaster was averted this evening as The Forces of Good continued the trend of not dropping two straight games.
For the first time in a few games, Mackey wasn’t sold out, but the crowd of over 12,500 was dialed in…but neither team seemed too interested in a fast start. The game had all of the excitement of a Purdue v. Northwestern game in the first five minutes…Purdue wasn’t scoring at much of a clip, and Northwestern simply wasn’t scoring. Isaac Haas got the good guys going with Hammons on the bench in the first half as he was beaten up pretty consistently while calling for ball and battling for boards. One of the dumbest moments of the game was when Haas was tripped and hooked…the result was he landed straight on his back. Then, was whistled for a foul. In spite of Northwestern physical play, Haas had a solid 8pt, 4reb game.
Collins seemed to think that Olah and Co would struggle to match up with Purdue’s size and strength…so they packed in their match-up zone and mugged Purdue’s bigs…Swanigan, Haas and Hammons were all beaten up pretty well in this one. The foul count was skewed- Northwestern was whistled 26 times to Purdue’s 14…but the refs seemed to miss one each possession. The wild thing is the Wildcats would have gotten away with it…if it wasn’t for that mettling AJ Hammons…and all of those tasty free throws. Hambone got back on track after a bit of a sluggish game v. UM. He finished with 18pts and 12rebs…He went 8/11 from the FT line and made Northwestern pay.
Northwestern had one of their goons…errrrrrr bigs foul out, and three others ended the game with four fouls. It looked like three or four would foul out with around seven minutes left.
Johnny Hill had a good game- he also feasted a bit at the FT line, going 6/8. He had a couple heads up plays in which he was in the right place at the right time. Some would call it luck, I’d call it just being crafty. He drove well, distributed and even hit is very first three pointer of his career as a Boiler. He finished with 15pts, 6rebs, 3ast and zero turnovers. Rock solid.
Mathias only played 13 minutes, Stephens continued the trend of playing almost none (4)…and as their minutes shrink, Cline seems to be earning more time by playing smart and hitting threes when no one else does. he went 2/4 from deep, had 11 points and 4 rebounds…along with 4 fouls as he continues to struggle on defense.
Edwards had a whisper-quiet 9 points and 6 assists while RayDay’s 36 minutes outpaced everyone…but he only had 2 points. In fact, Davis and the rest of the Boilers started the second half as they did the first- by not scoring. I think they were 3/12 from the field at the beginning of the second half. Purdue’s inability to score is the painful trend that won’t go away…like skinny jeans for dudes, no one really likes to see Purdue that way. The cramped discomfort the good guys feel while on offense is palpable. It’s a damned good thing this team rebounds and hits free throws- their 45 to Northwestern’s 24 rebounds was a difference maker, and hitting 20 more free throws than your opponent goes a long way as well…especially when you can’t score from the field with any consistency.
Two other starters, Thompson and Biggie, combined for just 34 minutes and 6 points.
This game felt dangerous because it would have been easy for the Boilers to overlook the purple as they prepared to travel to Bloomington on Saturday. The good news, they handled their business. While it was ugly, while it was devoid of any noteworthy highlights, it was Purdue’s 21st win of the season. A 71-61 win over Northwestern isn’t anything to write home about…but had Purdue not fought through this ugly slugfest, it would have been noteworthy and detrimental in March.
So how are you feeling about playing one of the Big Ten’s most potent offenses? Let us know on here and via Twitter.