© Old Gold Free Press Columnists
BOX SCORE: No. 24 Purdue 72, No. 8 Wisconsin 67
It's unbelievable. Conventional wisdom is that the team that wins the rebounding wars and shoots free throws at a high percentage is going to win 99-percent of the time. Tonight, Wisconsin out-rebounded Purdue 43-21 (including 15-5 on the offensive glass) and made 30 of 33 free throws (to Purdue's 12 of 22) and yet Purdue somehow found a way to win the game 72-67. I mean, come on ... I watched the game here in Sarasota at the Sarasota Brewing Co. and I still can't believe it. Purdue won tonight because they shot 53.1% from the field (the first time all year they have been above 50% from the field) and because they forced 18 turnovers and only committed 11 themselves. They also got great clutch performances from Chris Kramer, Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Keaton Grant and Nemanja Calasan and it was truly an unbelievable game to watch. Shoot, even Tarrance Crump and Marcus Green made some plays and while neither of them played particularly well tonight, they still were key contributors given that Scott Martin was unable to play.
I thought there were several key parts of the game:
(1) Marcus Landry got off to a great start and scored Wisconsin's first 6 points. Robbie Hummel basically shut him down the rest of teh way and he only had 2 more points.
(2) With Purdue leading 65-60 and less than 4 minutes to play, JaJuan Johnson scored 5 straight points for Purdue including 3 of 4 free throws and a lay-up to keep Purdue in the lead by more than 1 possession.
(3) Keaton Grant's steal and dunk with about a minute remaining took the lead from 4 to 6 and sealed Wisconsin's fate.
(4) When Wisconsin pulled to 59-55 with about 6 1/2 minutes left, Chris Kramer scored 5 straight points for Purdue to push the lead back up to 9 and give Purdue some breathing room.
(5) Nemanja Calasan hit his first two 3-pointers and a lay-up (he scored Purdue's first 8 points) to get Purdue off to a great start.
(6) Robbie Hummel and E'Twaun Moore were simply sensational in the first half and while Robbie also played a great 2nd half, E'Twaun got into foul trouble and wasn't much of a factor in the 2nd half.
(7) Purdue did a great job of shutting down Trevan Hughes (4 points on 1 of 9 shooting).
Now, it's back home in Mackey Arena on Tuesday to play Michigan State. Michigan State seems to go pretty much how Drew Neitzel goes and let's hope that Purdue can find a way to slow him down and keep the freight train going down the tracks. At 10-1 in the Big 10 and 19-5 over-all, I think Purdue has finally "arrived" on the national radar (they should be ranked in both polls this week) and it would be great to keep it going on Tuesday night. At this point, barring a total collapse, Purdue is no longer playing for an NCAA berth, they are playing for the Big 10 Championship and a pretty high seed in the tournament. It will be interesting to see how Purdue's players respond to the spotlight!!
I think Matt Painter has showed everyone that he knows what he is doing. Wisconsin had never lost to anyone other than Illinois in Madison since Bo Ryan took over (something like 8 years) and it would be hard to over-emphasize how big this win was tonight. Every Purdue fan should be extremely thankful Purdue has a coaching staff that has shown they know how to prepare teams to win.