Not to disparage Tim Miles (who we like a lot) or the Nebraska basketball program, but you know you've hit bottom when you're losing to Nebraska. The Huskers are a bad team, plain and simple. They went 5-13 in league play and were the proud owners of a grand total of five victories in 2013. The Boilers beat them in their house on Jan 16 and the Children of the Corn rank 332nd nationally in points per game, 292nd in rebounds, 336th in assists and 299th in FG percentage. So as you can see, I'm not being a jerk (no more than usual anyway) when I say they're....bad.
And yet, somehow, the Cornhuskers shot over 50% in the first half en route to a two point lead at the break. I will admit I was actually not overly concerned. I've seen Purdue play cold first halves -- especially in the BTT -- and then come out with more life in the second half. Plus, as I said, this was a bad team the Boilers were
However, the Boilers did what they've done all season -- when things go cold, they go astonishingly icy cold.
If Purdue is rolling and DJ is streaking in a positive way (not that way, ladies), then Terone usually finds his groove, too, and as defenses struggle to contain those two, other guys chip in and get their double digit points, too...and all is well in the world. See the Minnesota game just four short days ago for Exhibit A. Tonight, however, was basically the story that has played out in every game in which the Boilers struggled -- DJ and Terone were cold and with them went everyone else and the Boilers' dreams of ruining some other squads weekends.
Purdue wound up shooting 40% from the field, but they were dreadful for the majority of the game (as the 16% from three will attest). 40% isn't good, but it doesn't look atrocious, but the Boilers were pretty damn atrocious. Let's face it...they'd have to be to be down by double digits to this Nebraska team. They managed to come alive late and begin making shots, which is what pushed that percentage into the 40s. DJ led the way with 15 points in his likely final college game on 6/14 shooting. He was only 2/8 from three, though, with both threes coming very late to make this a ballgame in the end. I (and I'm sure many of you) will remember DJ fondly, as we discussed on the Handsome Hour last night. He had a rough night, but he still led the way, as I said, and I am proud to call him a fellow Boilermaker.
Terone had a stinker of a night, scoring 9 points on 4/14 shooting and, unconscionably, 1/4 from the line. Speaking of the line, the Boilers shot 50% there, so once again, the game often comes down to simple things. The Boilers didn't play well at all, their leaders didn't have good shooting nights....but if they made their FTs, it's a very different game and likely a different outcome.
AJ Hammons and Anthony Johnson were the other Boilers in double digits with 11 and 10 respectively.
Of note was the short bench, another Matt Painter March trademark. RayDay started (along with DJ, TJ, AJH and RJ) and played 29 minutes. The only guys who came off the bench were Sandi (who scored 4 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and was whistled for 5 fouls in 14 minutes), Anthony Johnson (20 mins, 0 points) and Donnie Hale, who only played three minutes.
Of course, it doesn't really matter now, as the Boilers squandered not only the opportunity to piss in Ohio State's Cheerios tomorrow, but they almost certainly missed their outside shot at the NIT and the opportunity to play potentially a few more games, which as Hank said on our podcast last night, is crucial for the development of such a young team.
This is a disappointing night on a lot of levels. For one, obviously the Boilers reverted to their bleak form from earlier in the season, after a sizzling finish that saw them scoring tons of points and beating or nearly beating good teams. As the saying goes, nobody wanted to see the Boilermakers in this tournament. Well, except for Nebraska, apparently. Of course, as with many Purdue losses this year, the Huskers kept trying to open the door and let them in, but the Boilers were too midwestern and polite, insisting on only stepping onto the porch but never actually kicking in the door and taking over the party. No, I have no idea where this metaphor is going. I'm tired and hungry and why are you even still reading about the '12-'13 Purdue basketball season?
Going back to postseason aspirations and whether or not this was indeed the last game of the season and DJ's (and Dru's) careers...We're not huge fans of the NIT, obviously, but for this year's squad, it would have been useful for the reasons mentioned and also would have been something of an accomplishment considering where the season was heading during the February swoon. The NIT no longer requires teams to be .500 or better, but they generally still wind up only taking winning teams.
As for the next step down, the CBI, we're not fans of the Boilers participating in that. I don't think they necessarily would, but you never know. I do know that in the CBI, you pay to host games. So I guess in theory, if you guys are into the idea, we could field a team and host it in my driveway.
Let me know, okay?