Boilers Play Role of Washington Generals in Crossroads Yet Again

Boilers Play Role of Washington Generals in Crossroads Yet Again

You knew they weren’t going undefeated. You knew they were going to lose eventually. And you probably “hoped” it would be against a good opponent, rather than the kind of mindfreeze we’ve seen early in the last few seasons. So through that lens, losing a game away from the home cooking of Mackey to a one-loss, ranked team shouldn’t really hurt too badly. Yet somehow, today’s 74-68 loss to Butler in Indy at the Crossroads Classic stings. I think part of the reason is because with all the fair-weather, weirdly anti-Purdue schmucks in Bankers Life, it winds up feeling like our Boilers lost to Butler, IU and Notre Dame all in one day. This is the fifth iteration of the Crossroads and Purdue is now 0-5, the only participant yet to notch a win. They’ve been edged by Butler three times and smoked by Notre Dame twice.

So that’s all part of the reason this one burns a bit going down, like a cheap bourbon. Another reason is because Purdue managed to look half-asleep for most of today’s game and it just makes no sense. You’d think they are simply tired of being humbled in Indy. You’d think Coach Painter – who I do hold accountable for a lot of today – would have some adjustments he could make. When his two-headed monster of AJ and Isaac have a combined four points at the half, you need to figure something out.

Today we saw something I recently wondered openly about whether it would happen at all this year. Purdue’s big men weren’t having their usual impact and Purdue’s shooters were nowhere to be seen. The only guy who filled it up was Caleb Swanigan, but he was plagued by 7 big turnovers. In fact, that leads us to our Stat of the Night.

Stat of the Night: Purdue’s 18 turnovers killed them.

If you don’t think that’s true, take a look at some of the other statistical evidence. For a while there in the latter portion of the first half on to beyond the midpoint of the second half, it felt like Butler was doing whatever they wanted. Runs of 9-0, stretching out the lead well into double digits. And yet the truth is, Butler didn’t play all that well.

The Boilers shot better from the field, from three (believe it or not) and from the line. Purdue also outrebounded the Bulldogs by five and had nine blocks (five from AJ) according to the stat sheet. Hell, Butler’s Kellen Dunham went 0/12 from the floor and 0/4 from three… he started and played big minutes (32)!

All of that would lead you to believe Purdue should have had a big lead, rather than needing to scramble to make it a game late.

BS Player of the Game: Caleb Swanigan

It’s got to go to Biggie, as he finished with 25 points (only AJ also got into double figures for Purdue with 12, nearly all of them late) and 11 rebounds. He went 10/14 from the floor, including 3/4 from deep. Two of those bombs were critical baskets that got the Boilers back within three with under a minute to play. As mentioned, Caleb also had seven turnovers, which is obviously a problem but is also likely something that can be attributed to his freshman status.

What’s Good?

AJ vs Butler
AJ vs Butler
  • The comeback late. Purdue closed the gap very quickly in the final three minutes. It was 64-49 with 3:50 to go and the Boilers suddenly played very inspired ball, hustling it upcourt and hitting shots, something they hadn’t done most of the game. Biggie’s back to back threes in a 19 second span made it 70-67. Purdue got one closer on a Kendall Stephens free throw at 70-68 with 26 seconds to go, but the Kid missed the second and when Purdue had to foul, Butler hit both of theirs to make it a four point game. The comeback served to make the final score look better than most of the game had looked and also perhaps should have given us all some hope that the Boilers can handle some adversity.
  • Biggie’s game, as detailed above. He was the only guy whose stat line looks like anything resembling this year’s Purdue team.
  • AJ's alley-oop from PJ that cut it to 14 with 8:49 to play.
  • Not too much else, honestly.

What’s Not Good

  • Matt Painter getting outcoached yet again in the Crossroads. I like Coach Painter and I know he’s got a lot of support out there. But this year is big for him – he needs to start demonstrating his teams will win games like this. Also, Painter still seems terrified of someone fouling out of the game. Even with Isaac not having a good game, AJ stayed planted on the bench after getting his second foul in the first half. This is even more puzzling when you have the embarrassment of riches at center that Purdue does.
  • Johnny Hill looked a bit out of sorts out there. He had three turnovers in just 13 minutes and had some otherwise sloppy decisions that seemed out of character for what we’ve been coming to expect.
  • Where’s Vince? This was the second game recently where he came out looking sharp, hitting shots early and having an impact and then simply fading away. He finished 2/9 from the field, 1/5 from three.
  • Captain Ray – oh-fer from the field, only two points overall. Obviously, we could go around the room and talk about who didn’t score enough since nobody but Caleb did, but they’ll need more from the Captain.

Tweet of the Night

@BoiledSports Does it bother anyone else that Butler has been better than Purdue for 6 yrs straight?

— Ed Borys (@Ed_Borys) December 20, 2015

Yes. Yes, it does.

What’s Next?

It certainly isn’t time for a rest as Vanderbilt comes to town on Tuesday night at Mackey. Purdue owes the ‘Dores a punch in the mouth. Let’s hope Purdue is sharper and more ready to play than they were today. Because if they aren’t, Vandy won’t be nice and stay close like Butler did – they’ll run away and hide.

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