The first half was sloppy...kinda ugly, actually. A pal of mine who roots for aOSU, but didn't go there, texted me about the lack of beauty of the first half...but as I told him, I was A-OK with it. That said, every Purdue fan knew where Purdue stood after the first 20 minutes at Mackey...but this 13-point lead felt a bit different. First, it didn't take a bonkers half by Hummel to give Purdue the lead and multiple guys were getting involved.
Case in point: KG. You beautiful beast...where have you been this season?
No matter where he's been, he was ready to play this evening and ended the contest with 13 points and a couple assists. A few of his shots were huge...in particular, his four-point play was massive. Both he and 3'Twaun were impressive in the win. And speaking of Smooge, how about this line- 15pts, 6reb, 5ast, 1stl. Even with aOSU making a concerted effort to deny him and in spite of the fact that the Bucknut players all had length on him, he still got the job done.
You can't really say the same for the Ostrich. Not only did he not show up on the scorer's book (4pts, 4reb, 4 fouls), but he simply didn't shoot. He only attempted 3 shots; made one. The really odd thing was that, especially in the second half, it seemed like the Buckeye zone lent itself nicely to the curl that Hummel seems to run so well...but he seemed to stand in place without the ball...very un-Robbie-like. Not sure if he was sick...but he played like it. Even though he sat for large chunks of the game due to foul trouble, he didn't seem to have his legs under him late in the contest. All that means to me, is the law of averages aren't in the Illini's favor on Saturday.
As badly as JJ played versus aOSU at Mackey back in January, he played that well tonight. 24pts, 7reb, 3ast...maybe just as important, Dallas Lauderdale only had 3 and 3. Johnson used his quickness, perimeter-shooting ability and simple want-to to make things happen. As J and I have said for about three years- when this guy wants to be great, he simply is.
But, so was Evan Turner. The problem was, no one else on his team was ET led his team in points (29), rebounds (7), assists (5), and almost led in steals (2). Sure, he had a bit of help from Ted Valentine and co. as he received the porcelain doll treatment. I know he hurt his back early in the season, but gentlemen, he's all better now. Both KG and LewJack were called for the phantom...and impossible, mind you...two hand, straight up reach-in fouls during Turner drives. No matter. Evan lost.
But, the game was close in the end...way too close in fact. And after Kramer missed the front-end of a one-and-one, and Smooge missed a layup, aOSU had a chance to tie it with :15 on the clock. Instead of running a play to get Diebler an clean look at a three, Buford drove...and Kramer made up for his missed FT with a massive rejection. aOSU quickly gathered it around 22 feet away from the hoop with :05 left...and seemed to have no sense of urgency. A few seconds later, Diebler's desperation three came and hit off the back iron.
Good guys win: 60-57
Now, I know Evan Turner is a sexy mutha and EsPN wants to talk about how aOSU is the best team in the BT, but let's get one thing clear: One man does not a team make. And without contributions from Diebler, Buford and Lighty, the Buckeyes will be in a ton of trouble as they enter the field of 64(5). I'm hoping they figure it out after they lose to Purdue one more time in Indianapolis.
Next up, The Paint Crew welcomes its pals and classmates back home as Bruce and the Illini come calling. Anybody else extremely-excited about the game?
This is Purdue's first win at Value City Arena. Now, the Juniors and Seniors have won at every arena in the league.
Is there anyone else here that has some trepidation about the Minny game in Minneapolis? This one just gives me a lousy feeling.
Circling the drain
Northwestern continues to do what it does as they lost to another cellar-dweller in the BT earlier this evening. What looked like an nearly-guaranteed ticket to NU's first Big Dance, just a few weeks ago, is slowly slipping out of the Purple's hands.