Krushed Orange

"Man, I am glad we practiced our free throws..."

When you watch a game without the sound and with other distractions around you, it changes your perspective. This is how I watched today's game, from a bar after a round of golf (yeah, it was almost 70 in Houston today). What became apparent to me was that the Boilers didn't play their best game, but they showed the mettle of a championship kind of team but doing what I feel like we've written before -- slowly grinding an opponent into submission, winning 75-65.

After the first half, once again the Boilers were trailing. Illinois was playing hard, inspired ball and the Boilers looked somewhat out of sync. JJ never got going today, winding up with only five points, shooting a lovely 10% (1-10) from the field. Yeesh.

However, as the game is winding down, you look up and the Boilers have a ten point victory, after winning the second half, 43-30. No matter what changes with this team, one thing seems to be consistent -- they're a second half squad and they outlast almost everyone. AND they cannot be beaten by most teams just because you're able to shut down one of the Big Three. You'll have to shut down at least two of them and even then you might be in trouble. (Incidentally, I got into a Twitter argument a couple of weeks ago with Brent from the Big Ten Network because he suggested the Boilers could be weak in the tourney because they "only" had three scorers. Even with "only" Smooge, Ostrich and JJ, I like our chances -- which is what I told him -- but if KG and CK are coming to play, too....well, the black and gold are a tough out in that scenario.)

Rob Hummel was again a catalyst, but not with his shooting from the field (4-13). No, Rob -- and others -- punished the Illini from the line, with the Ostrich going a cool 12 of 12, finishing with a double-double again, with 22 pts and 12 rebs. Smooge has his typically efficient 18 while shooting 50% from the field, and our old friend Keaton Grant continued his re-emergence from whatever fog he's been in for a while, with a nice 15 points on 50% shooting from the field (including 3 of 5 from 3 pt land) and 100% shooting from the line (6 of 6).

As you watch a game like this, sometimes it's hard to put your finger on what made the difference. And when that's the case, you expect it to be a last-second kind of win. Yet the Boilers wind up winning by ten. Why is this? Becuase they're a damn good team. A team that finds a way to win even when they shoot 36% from the field as a team.

Five FT attempts? Seriously??

Oh, yeah, and it's also easier to find that way to win when you get to the line. Both teams hit 50% of their threes, but the difference was, as mentioned, at the line, where the Boilers went an impressive 24 of 28 while the Illini amazingly only went 3 of 5. Outscoring a team by 21 at the line will often make up for any other shortcomings.

This was unquestionably a dangerous game for Purdue. Illinois is tough and Coach Weber always has them ready...AND it's not like it's impossible that the Boilers could have looked ahead to their road tilt at Minny, followed by the huge game at home against MSU. Good work to everyone for staying sharp -- sharp enough to win an hugely important game.

The win puts the Boilermakers into a tie (in both the win and loss columns) with Michigan State for the Big Ten lead, and pushes their current winning streak to nine. The Boilers, as you likely know, continue to be a very streaky team, having won 14 to open the season, followed by three losses....and now followed by these nine wins. This team is 22-3, everybody. Twenty-two and three. Something special is happening here and we're all witnessing it.

So what's up, Boilermaker faithful? Your thoughts are welcome....Are you feeling better after this game? Worse? About the same?

Why I wanted MSU to win today

Macho Joey Elliott