First, let's just hope Rob is okay. It appears that he was suffering from serious leg cramps and nothing knee-related. We don't know that for certain, obviously, but it was pretty clear they were working on areas above and below his knee. In truth, Rob probably shouldn't have come back into the game so quickly after his first cramping -- he must have been dehydrated, which isn't something you can fix quickly. But he knew his team desperately needed him and Coach Painter allowed him to return. One of many miscalculations by Coach in this one, which is not something we often say.
The keys you need to know are this: Purdue had a 55-36 lead after Rob Hummel his that deep three with less than ten minutes left in the game (if memory serves correctly -- I'm writing this immediately after the end of the game). From then on, Xavier remembered how to shoot and caught fire, going on a 30-8 run. They started hitting free throws and stopped turning the ball over so frequently. It also didn't hurt that they were into the double bonus very early and Purdue never got there. Foul count (unofficial) was 25-17, with Purdue on the higher end. It wasn't so much the fouls that were called that bugged us but the fouls that weren't. Xavier may change coaching staffs through the years but their thuggish style has never wavered. Lots of scuffles, wayward elbows and forearms, fouls that were trips or shoves to the back, etc. This is not a one time thing, either, and it's not with sour grapes. X has always been dirty in that way. And Jimmy Dykes loves them.
Dykes also loved him some Tu Holloway today and Holloway was the key at the end. Why wasn't Kelsey Barlow guarding him? We don't know, either.
Travis Carroll must be addressed here, as well. As you likely know, we don't like taking digs at the players, but Travis was clearly not ready out there. I don't know why and I don't know if it's a sign that he will never be ready, but we're hopeful Coach Painter learned that Jacob Lawson should be getting those minutes right now. I know he's a freshman, but Lawson (at least to this observer) looks composed and he's a guy who makes things happen. Carroll missed several gimmes and turned the ball over twice, including a backbreaking traveling violation late in the game that poured more gasoline on the fire. Lawson, on the other hand, played 14 fewer minutes than Carroll (23 to 9) but had twice as many points (4 to 2), had no turnovers and had two steals. Not a bad line for a mere 9 minutes. I'm not afraid to say it -- Lawson should be playing more... now.
Lew was all over the stat sheet in this one, scoring 12 points, going 6/9 at the line, grabbing 6 rebounds, dishing 4 assists, nabbing 4 steals... but also having 6 turnovers. Lewis also had what might be the last dunk attempt we'll see from him. In the first half, with Purdue up 29-15, Jackson stole the ball and in what looked like a replay from the Western Michigan game, he checked his six and then made his attack at the basket....only this time he didn't get up quite high enough and missed the dunk. Uncharacteristic of a Purdue team, uncharacteristic of Lewis and I think probably unlikely to be seen again, as you could immediately see how upset Lewis was with himself. And so for those of you who want to criticize him, yes, he should have just laid it in -- but a lot of showboats out there wouldn't have even looked slightly contrite. Lew was pissed at himself. We like that.
Ryne Smith had only 8 points on 2-4 shooting (all shots from 3), yet somehow -- with Rob Hummel in a heap on the sidelines -- did not get the ball into his hands at all on the final possession. Now, DJ Byrd also got mugged by multiple Musketeers on that possession but if you watch the replay, you can see Ryne waiting...almost cocking the gun... and open, ready to shoot. The guy's the ranking shooter on the floor in that situation, in my opinion. I wanted him to have a chance at the tie.
I will say that I don't like some of the buzz I was seeing immediately after the game on Twitter, with some Boilers saying our boys "choked." I mean, I guess you can call it whatever you want, but Xavier is good, the refereeing took Purdue out of their game and it's hard to call a loss a choke job when your opponent goes on that kind of aforementioned run. But hey, as I said, you can call it what you want.
It definitely hurts and is a bad loss in the sense that when you have a 19 point lead 3/4 of the way through a game, you should be able to hold it, no matter who it's against. As we often say, let's hope that our guys learn from this one and store it away to be used as motivational fuel.