For 12 minutes-or-so, we saw the Purdue team that tore into WVU, beat up on MSU for the first half and definitely-deserves to be a #1 seed. After that, things took a turn.
As Hummel drove from the left side of the arc to the right toward the rim he fell awkwardly and painfully...The wake of the fall left the Ostrich in a heap...and his teammates in a similar state emotionally. The levity of Hummel's injury seemed to take a few minutes to sink in...but Purdue ended the half poorly as Minny cut the lead down to single-digits on the back of a 6-0 run.
After what was surely a bit of a somber halftime in the locker room, Matty's boys came out with a thud. Purdue's lead shrunk to nothing, then turned into a 7-point deficit as Minnesota started the last 20 minutes of the contest with a 12-0 run. Purdue looked flat and shell-shocked. In fact, the only player that seemed to take it upon himself to play with reckless abandon, at least initially, was, get this, Chris Kramer. He guarded 7-footers, played the high post offensively, looked to shoot and drew a charge. CK's effort eventually started rubbing off on his teammates. Fellow senior, KG made some big shots and drove the ball with purpose and had his third-straight double-digit scoring output. But make no mistake, without the KG being reminded of who he really is as a player during the last two games, we might not have seen the stone-cold, monster KG that helped pull our Boilers out of the muck they had created in Minneapolis. Is it possible that 5 is finding his old MVP self as we speak?
In the closing minutes, Matty's club did what great teams do- they made shots, made stops, rebounded well and simply closed the game out. Prior to this strong finish, Goldy kept Purdue at an arm's length with a single-digit lead that felt like a 15-point lead as nothing was working offensively and Minny's bigs were unconscious.
But in the end, the maginally-talented Boilers, with two-thirds of the Big Three available beat Tubby's talented team.
JJ hit some big shots as he finished with 14, 10 and 3 blocks...but he was visibly gassed as he played the entire game. LewJack had 4 assists...two were HUGE. John Hart hit a big shot that kept the game in striking distance, Moore had 11 points and 3 assists, but his biggest contribution might have been shutting down Westbrook. And while the forces of good didn't win the rebounding battle, they did tie it...and a few big rebounds, especially down the stretch, helped Purdue win by the slimmest of margins...59-58.
Matty called Hummel's injury a small setback after the game, let's hope his optimism is rooted in the knowledge of the situation that very few have right now. Until we the rest of us do know more, probably tomorrow around midday, Purdue fans everywhere will be holding their collective breath.