Tonight is one example of when eleven is greater than ten. The Wisconsin Badgers came into West Lafayette ranked 1oth after their huge win against then #1 Ohio State. The Boilers were jumped by the Badgers, and sat ranked 11th. The last time these two teams met Wisconsin came away with a seven point win in Madison. Purdue actually had a one point lead with under a minute left thanks to five straight points by DJ Byrd. Things didn’t go Purdue’s way though, and they gave up a 8-0 run to end the game. I almost went to that game, but the snowstorm kept me away. What a difference two weeks makes. Instead of a blizzard it was 60 degrees in West Lafayette today. It was a beautiful day to be outside, but of course I had something to do inside.
Both teams started off very slowly. I knew that we would see a low scoring game, but neither team seemed to want to get things going early. Ryne Smith was a non factor as far as scoring was concerned. He scored two early points on a nice reverse layup, but then did not score again. His hustle though will not show up in the box score, but if you go to the games you can see how hard he works. Purdue trailed early, but Smooge hit a three to put them up 16-15. The Boilers would not trail again after this play. They weathered the late Wisconsin storm to win the game 70-62 and set up the huge showdown with Ohio State Sunday.
With Senior day coming up I am starting to already dread a Purdue team without JJ and E’Twaun. They are so good that I think we will really miss these guys next season. JaJuan had another great night, and against a top ten team no less. He scored 20 points with 10 boards and four blocks. He is just fun to watch. I have some moments when he shoots from long range, but when he is feeling hot who am I to question his shot selection?
His partner in crime E’Twaun Moore came to play as well. He came into the game just 30 away from 2,000 points for his career. I was hoping he would go off and get it tonight, but I will settle for Sunday I guess. He scored 19 tonight, but seemed to come alive when the team really needed him. His spurt early gave Purdue the lead, and gave them the momentum that they would need to start to build their lead. He then came alive again late to help them hold onto their lead. He really did not have a big signature play though did he?
Play of the Game – Did anyone take the last sentence seriously? Probably one of the best plays of the year happened in the second half. With about two minutes gone in the half JJ and LewJack jumped into the passing lane. Lew ended up with the ball, and started the break. He fed E’Twaun Moore with a beautiful no look pass for the slam. Last week the IU fans didn’t think you could call Smooge’s dunk a slam. This was most definitely a slam. The play was started with good defense on Jordan Taylor, and ended with a great dunk. I had a great angle to get the slam with my camera. I was facing E’Twaun instead of having his back towards me like I would have in my normal seat. I am way too much of a fan though because I was up and yelling when the play happened with my camera at my side. The guys around me were laughing at me because I missed the shot. You could see the dunk coming, and I just forgot what was going on. Maybe he can do it again for me on Sunday.
Part of what made the game so great tonight was the seat I had for the second half. A group of contractors from up north were sitting in some great seats in the lower bowl. At the half one of them called me up and said that they had some empty seats in their row. I jumped at the chance to sit down there, and hopefully got some good pictures. I used to get these seats about once a year, but have not for a couple of years. I was in these seats when Chris Kramer and the rest of the Boilers held Michigan State to 13 second half points. It seems like good things happen when I sit there. Maybe I should every game.
Lost in all the fun tonight for me was that Smooge and JJ moved into first place by themselves for career wins with 102. I would like to see a few more before it is all over.
The crowd really seemed to be jacked up for this game. It was louder than for the Indiana game, and maybe even the Michigan State game. As the stakes get higher each game the fans seem to bring it more and more
Wisconsin seemed to play with their stars on the bench a lot tonight. Jon Leuer had two fouls early in the first half, and sat for a long time. He never seemed to get into the flow of the game. Jordan Taylor was nothing like the guy I saw on TV this past weekend. In fact he seemed to be off the floor a lot for a star. I kept wondering if I missed something about him being hurt. He was making dumb mistakes, and just did not look like the same guy. He did make some nice shots, but it was too little too late by the time he got it heated up.
Player of the Game – This is not too easy to come up with on a night like this. This was a team win with both E’Twaun and JJ having good nights. We are so used to them having big nights though that we welcome the night when someone else jumps into the spotlight. Tonight LewJack jumped into the spotlight big time. He scored 18 points and had five assists on the night. He seemed to get a lot of those points late when they really needed them. His long range shot is a welcome sight as well. He is really turning into a dynamic player to watch. He also had zero turnovers against a very good Wisconsin defense. This was part of a night where the team only turned it over four times all game (two in each half). Keeping control of the basketball is a huge part of winning in the Big Ten, and Purdue certainly did that tonight. LewJack also did a good job keeping Jordan Taylor in check on defense. He just had a great game, and gets the player of the game.
I normally don’t rail on refs on this site. I realize that they have a very tough job. I thought that the job last week against Indiana was not very good. That is not saying that they favored IU or Purdue. I thought that it was very inconsistent. Tonight was much of the same. There was one stretch were E’Twaun was nailed under the hoop just after Leuer was hit hard under his hoop neither foul was called. Then the refs called a touch foul on DJ Byrd that could just as easily been a no call. At the end of the game they really seemed to tighten things up. Again this was not to favor one team. They called petty fouls on both teams. LewJack was the victim of three straight bad calls, but then they went and nailed Jordan Taylor with a bad call. I was close enough at that point to see the ref ask him if it was an foul to stop the clock. Taylor said that he was going for the ball. The ref made a judgment call that Wisconsin wanted to foul to extend the game. Just call the fouls…don’t think! A great example of the bad job today was late in the first half when DJ Byrd was going for a loose ball in the corner. Carrot Top held him to stop him from getting to the ball. It was a blatant hold right next to the ball. Of course their was a no call, and the ball was awarded to Wisconsin. These refs had a bad night for sure.