An ugly win is better than a pretty loss...if there is such a thing. But make no mistake, this was ugly.
My keys to the game going in were pretty simple- LewJack needed to not allow NU to set up the zone and play at a fast pace...and Moore needed to shoot well. Moore shot well from behind the arc (4/8), but missed a lot of shots. He had stretches where he took the game over, but his free throw shooting (12/17) simply must be improved. But, 28pts, 5reb, 2blk is A-OK...if you're into that sort of thing. LewJack dished it out well- 5ast, 4pts, 4reb...only one TO. But JJ proved to be too much for the Cats- 22pts (7/9 shooting) and he made his free throws (8/9).
The rebounding was once-again a key- Purdue won the battle on the glass by just one, 30-29...but as you all know, when Purdue out-rebounds their opponent, they win. Also, when Matty's club shoots their free throws well, they usually win too- they nearly hit 75% of them...an important part of the 69-61 victory.
Grant shot poorly...but I'm going to step out in faith and say this wasn't a sign of things to come and look for a more solid performance, offensively, in the semis. He did have a cramp at the end of the game...but didn't look too fatigued, just was a touch off as he had a couple deep shot go in and out. Bade played a solid 10 minutes and showed a touch of what he might become next season...and hit a pair of big free throws. Hart had a few questionable fouls called on him and Smith played some valuable minutes...but man do the good guys need him to hit his threes.
Speaking of cheap fouls, here are the most-noteworthy stats, to me anyway- NU and Purdue combined to shoot 66 frickin' free throws. The two teams combined for 52 fouls. Most of Purdue's starters had 3 fouls very early in the second half. Northwestern had three guys foul out...Purdue had three players end the game with four fouls. This game was ugly...and unlike the MSU game, which was completely the fault of Purdue's poor shooting and ugly play by both Purdue and Sparty, the refs controlled the beauty of this one.
Many say that the best officials are those that you don't notice. If that's the case, these were some of the worst officials I've ever seen. They were obvious on nearly every possession. On one possession by the purple in the early second half, Purdue had three fouls called on them...KG had a great reaction to the third, by Smooge- he put his hands on top of his head as if to ask, "What can we do?" Later, JJ had a technical called for being mouthy...after NU was called for a foul. Makes sense.
This game was almost not basketball. And I don't fault any of the guys on the court with numbers on their backs. Paul Janssen, Curtis Shaw & Dan Chrisman were the story, plain and simple. Congrats for being mentioned, fellas. Print out this post, show it to your kids and Grandkids...and let me never hear your name again. You guys stole money tonight from whomever was foolish-enough to hire you as NCAA/BT officials.
Hats off to Matty and co. for advancing. They'll face either MSU or Minnesota tomorrow afternoon around 4:30.
And for those keeping score at home, Matty and his scrappy, disrespected, 4-loss Boilers win another game in which they had the chance to avenge a loss. I've said it a 100 times, this team is damned-good when they're revenge-minded.
Thanks to the BTN in-studio personalities and the EsPN braintrust for making Purdue, the number 2 seed in the tournament, an underdog v. the Wildcats. And, according to almost everyone, it's a foregone conclusion that Purdue isn't deserving of any more than a 2 seed. From here out, fellas, no one expects you to win, but you. Fight your way to daylight.