Saturday, February 04, 2012
The rivalry is certainly back, that much is sure, as Mackey sounded like it was rocking at tip-off. Via television, there was that feeling of excitement as though the fans might come tumbling onto the floor as the Boilers took the ball down immediately and Ryne Smith put it in for a rare layup. Rare in that Ryne doesn't shoot many of those and also rare on this night, as Purdue never made another shot look that easy.
Let me point out some good, though...and with it, let's try to understand how Purdue is able to find ways to turn many good things into a large bad thing. In the first half, the Boilers held the Hoosiers -- who have shot the ball well this season -- to just 32% shooting and 33 points. Remember, these guys put up over a hundy on Fran's boys from Iowa City. Sure, Purdue needs to be better than the Hawkeyes, but 32%/33 pts is damn good. In addition, the Boilers didn't turn the ball over once in the first half, with their first turnover of the game coming with five minutes to go in the contest. The Boilers also managed to hoist forty shots in the first half. Ah, but here's the rub -- they couldn't hit water if they fell off of Boilerdowd's yacht. An 8 of 40 performance in the first half for a tidy 20%, including an astonishing 0-11 from three point land. We said earlier this year that we found it really worrisome that this was an all-or-nothing deep threat team. Without a low post presence in this conference, Purdue was going to have to rely heavily on accurate outside shooting. 20% is, shall we say, a tad less than accurate. Mercy.
Indiana, meanwhile, wasn't shooting a whole lot better, but managed to stretch out to an 11 point, 33-22 lead. Also noteworthy in the first half was Matt Painter getting his first tech of the season (and, what, second or third ever at Purdue?), as well as Cody Zeller dragging Travis Carroll to the court (foul on Carroll) and Sandi Marcius being bloodied (incidental!). It was a brawl and it was on.
As we discussed on the Handsome Hour this past week, Purdue is a team of two halves it seems this season and thankfully they came out a little more focused in the second half -- or, at least, able to see the basket. They shot 50% (5-10) from three in the second frame and after letting the lead yo-yo back and forth on either side of the double-digit marker, whittled it down to four points, with just a few minutes to play, at 65-61. Then the Boilers -- yet again -- ended the game on a scoreless drought, allowing the Hoosiers to go on an eventually-meaningless (in that the game was effectively over once Purdue stopped scoring) 13-0 run to finish things off in a painful, foot in the groin manner .
While Rob Hummel played better in the second half and actually wound up with a double-double (16 and 10), his shooting confidence is visibly lacking to me. He shot 4-14 from the floor, did not make a three and of more concern to me, looked to pass up many shots in favor of the head fake and sidestep move he likes to do now. When it works and leads to fouls or open deuces, fine. But he's either not taking the shots or clanking them hard, which makes me want to see him simply launch without shuffling his feet. But hey, I'm no coach -- what do I know? I only know what I see, and that is that Rob is continuing to struggle.
Another struggle tonight was experienced by Lewis Jackson, who went 1-10 from the field and only managed two points. As with the rest of the starters other than Rob, LewJack did not go to the free throw line. Hard to win games when you can't get to the line or make field goals.
Off the bench, DJ Byrd put in 15, including some huge threes to keep the Boilers within striking distance (he led the team in that department, going 3 of 5), but ultimately DJ fouled out of the game in just 20 minutes of play. The officiating crew of Mike Sanzere, Pat Driscoll, and "TV" Ted Valentine called the game as though (as B-dowd texted me) they thought they were in Assembly Hall. The Boilers were whistled for 25 fouls; the Hoosiers just 17. Draw your own conclusions.
Also off the bench, Kelsey Barlow had 12 and tried more than once to do his patented, down the lane thunderdunk move to wake up his team, but it was to no avail.
Jacob Lawson had a bright moment when he stole the ball, took it the length of the court and put down a thunderous dunk that brought the faithful out of their leather-backed, cupholder armrested seats. Lawson was only in the game because of multiple fouls on Carroll and the fact that Marcius was bleeding from the head. Still, whenever I see an athletic move like that from Lawson, I enjoy it and remind myself that he's just a freshman. There is potential there -- I hope it is realized in the coming years, as the Boilers need his size, athleticism and mean style.
Terone Johnson rounded out the terrible shooting by the Boilers with a 2-12 performance from the field (he, too, did not go to the line).
The Boilers needed this win for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that they're not in serious danger of being swept by IU, as the Purdue-IU rematch in Bloomington is on Senior Night for the Hoosiers. Tom Crean has now won at just two Big Ten venues away from Assembly Hall in Bloomington: Happy Valley (twice) and West Lafayette. That's embarrassing. (For Purdue.)
Tom Crean continued his two-faced nonsense at the end of this game, blowing by Matt Painter as fast as possible and not giving Painter a chance to say something he was trying to say. Nothing will be made of it because whenever ESPN does an IU game, Dick Vitale has his arm around Tom Crean after the game, hanging on Creaney's every mindless word. Crean is making it easier every day to loathe him.
What bothers me most about this game was that if the Boilers had shot even marginally well, they would have won it. They held IU to 42% shooting from the field, 30% from three and won the turnover battle by forcing 11 and only committing three (all in the final five minutes, as mentioned). Taking care of the ball keeping a team from shooting well usually mean a win for Purdue teams. But the Boilers wound up shooting 29.6% for the game, including 23.8% from three. The Boilers' 70% from the line actually wasn't the issue tonight, though we would of course prefer not to be last in the league in that department.
While this is a frustrating loss on many levels, the point I guess is that at this point in the season you are who you are. This is a Purdue team that never manages to put a complete game together. In fact, they can rarely put a complete half together. In addition, and perhaps of even greater concern, is the fact that the Boilers are not defending their home court. They've now lost two in a row (and three of four) at Mackey for the first time since the end of the '05-'06 season, which was Painter's first year and a 9-19 campaign for the Boilers. The Boilers did not lose three in a row at home in even that year. If they drop their next home game -- against Northwestern -- they'll then be in danger of losing four in a row at home since the following home game will be Michigan State. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Next up for the 15-8 (5-5) Boilers is a brutal road test at Columbus on Tuesday night on ESPN. The Boilers could now be looking at a seriously uphill climb to get anywhere past 18 wins heading into the Big Ten Tournament. If that occurs, the Boilers will be 8-10 in conference and will probably need a couple of wins in the BTT to feel any level of comfort heading into the selection show.
Their backs are now officially against the wall. With eight games to go, they can continue this slide of sometimes listless play and agonizing gaps of putrid offensive production and lackadaisical, ineffective defense, or they can make believers out of us all again.
Time to be Boilermakers, boys.