Boilers Grind Out Win in Madison
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Bo Ryan is no longer the head coach at Wisconsin...and it shows. This team has a few of the moving parts that helped Bucky get to Indianapolis last Spring, but doesn't look like a typical Wisconsin team. For one thing, their tallest player is 6'9"...when is the last time a Wisconsin team was regarded as small?
On the other side, Purdue is deep and should be able to play the inside-out game to keep the offense from getting stagnant...well, maybe not.
Both teams played solid defense, like these programs are known to play, but the shooting, specifically the three point shooting, was really ugly in the first half, and the score reflected that. Wisconsin went 1/7 from long range in the first 20 minutes, and Purdue was 2/9 in that same period. UGLY. On top of that, Haas played another kinda lousy game...But the best bench player in the nation lived up to his accolades and reputation yet again.
While Haas has kept his spot in the starting line-up, Hammons is pulling the plow these days. Haas not only doesn't look confident, but keeps bringing the ball down below his shoulders, which negates his biggest inherent advantage (obviously).
But Hammons was resolute as he fought through double and triple teams time and again. Teams who notice Purdue's struggles from distance have given Hambone all they could afford to in the form of bodies...and time and again, AJ has not only answered the bell, but thrived. He finished with 24 points, 7 rebounds and only 2 official blocks (not sure how that number is that low)...but he looked like a man among a pre-school class in the Kohl Center.
Speaking of that building, Purdue made a small bit of history in Madison last night. Our Boilers became the first program to win four total games in the tough venue, with the 61-55 win.
Purdue played poorly- let's not sugar coat that. 16 turnovers is garbage basketball. All ten of Purdue's players that saw minutes had at least one turnover...and the guy who I was speaking about so glowingly above had five of them. UGLY.
One thing that wasn't ugly was Purdue's FT shooting- nearly 86%...but they really didn't get to the line enough for my liking.
You knew it was over when...
...Mathias hit his second three in as many possessions. After an absolute desert of productivity by Purdue's perimeter shooters, Mathias hit two big shots that were stone-cold daggers in the barely beating Badger hearts. For some reason, Purdue didn't want to win by 10 or 15 points (which it seemed like they should've)...so when the game got close down the stretch, the Dakota came through.
Biggie was super quiet with the exception of his nine rebounds. Edwards was solid but also quiet with 8 points and 4 rebounds. RayDay had 7 and 6, and Thompson added 6 points and 4 assists.
I'm glad The Forces of Good got the "W"...but can't say I really enjoyed watching it.
Next up, Iowa comes to Mackey in the first contest of 2016. Purdue plays Saturday evening at 6:00...And with Iowa coming off of a big win over MSU, the Hawkeyes should be brimming with confidence.
Any road win in the B1G is a good win...even when Wisconsin is in transition. But this game looked like the bad ole battles between Gene Keady and Bo Ryan in which only a Purdue fan or Wisconsin fan could stay attentive for the duration. All of that said, an ugly win is a thing of beauty.