Only scoring in the 40s. Shooting 31% from the field. Shooting 42% from the line. Not a single player in double figures. How the hell can you expect to win?
Oh, wait, those were the numbers from the team that did win today in the Purdue-EMU heavyweight tilt.
If you can't break 50 points on a MAC team, it could be a sign of trouble.
The Boilers went up to Ypsilanti today to play a rare MAC road game and picked up their fifth loss of the season, falling 47-44. EMU fans responded by storming the floor as though they'd just knocked off a ranked team.
For Purdue fans, it was more of the same -- sub 30% shooting from the field, only 60% from the line, and a complete inability to put away a team. Instead, the Boilermakers played to EMU's level and allowed a pretty mediocre Eagles team to hang around in the first half. The Boilers would push the lead out to something like 11-2, but then stall there and allow the Eagles to painstakingly -- and it was painful -- inch their way back. By halftime, it was a 20-19 game. Exhilirating.
For those of you who didn't get to see this since it was only available streaming via ESPN3, well, you didn't miss too much.
Purdue's leading scorers were Terone with 12 on 4/11 shooting (and 1/4 from the line), followed by Ronnie and AJ both having 11. That's all the double figures Purdue had, which I guess isn't that awful since they only mustered 44 points for the game. Mercy.
DJ Byrd has gone 1/15 from the floor, including 0/14 from three, since his 22 point performance against Clemson. Something is wrong and it's hard to tell what. Maybe we'll learn he has a nagging injury that's worse than we've heard. Or maybe it's all in his head at this point and he's just pressing, knowing the team is struggling and that he's the leader. Whatever it is, DJ needs to iron it out soon. There are just no two ways about it.
In this one, the Boilers couldn't hit free throws and couldn't hit anything, frankly, and yet still had a good chance to win the game. The Eagles were up by as many as nine (I think) in the second half, but the Boilers ground their way back. With a minute and a half to go, after a timeout, the Boilers struck quickly to make it a 46-44 game. EMU had a critical possession, which they squandered, and so Purdue had the ball back. After bringing it upcourt, Matty took a timeout to draw up the winning play.
That winning play turned out to be drawn for Terone Johnson, who got a clear look at a three-pointer (and hey, why not? Threes have been so good to Purdue lately) but bricked it. Naturally, despite rebounding being a strength this season, the Boilers could do no more than knock it out of bounds, giving it back to EMU with ten seconds remaining.
Even then, EMU hit only one free throw on the ensuing predictable foul by the Boilers, allowing our boys another chance to at least tie it. And in typical 2012 Purdue fashion, it's not enough to lose -- it has to be done in an excruciating manner. The boys brought it upcourt and then, before a shot could be taken, fumbled it away. EMU takes possession, game over, drive home safely.
There are significant concerns among the Purdue faithful about this year's team. I've seen remarks that they'll be playing in a half-empty Mackey the rest of the season, which, if you guys do that, you don't deserve to have tickets. I've also seen people saying Byrd belongs on the bench -- I can understand this sentiment and if it means young guys get more minutes and Purdue is that much better next season, so be it. But DJ is a Boiler, too, and he's been a good soldier playing out of position for most of his time at Purdue. It's also still only December 8. A lot of things do indeed look bleak right now and this was an awful loss, but there is a long way to go. The team that should have beaten Villanova and did put a whipping on Clemson still exists in there somewhere. Do you really think it won't emerge again as these youngsters get more minutes under their belts?
No, this isn't a tourney team right now. But I maintain that the future remains bright and that this season will still have some exciting moments. We need to try to stay positive. There's a long track ahead of this train.