Boilers Handle the Challenge

#4 Boilers win 69-58 over Wake Forest

Tonight was a great night to be a Boiler fan. Before the game the team unveiled the Big Ten Tournament Championship banner. The 1996 Conference Champion banner has been lonely way too long. They then honored the team for its Paradise Jam Title that they won last week. When the game started the crowd was rocking, and just like in the ACC game last year the Boilers came out cold. The good news is that they have a great defense. They forced Wake Forest into 25 turnovers on the night, and held them to 42% shooting on the night. The only blemish on the defenses resume is how easily Ishmael Smith could drive to the basket. We really had nobody that could match his quickness. This was the game where we saw how much Lewis Jackson meant to us. We did do alright against the size of Wake Forest. As they were being introduced I was amazed at how big they were. They really did keep us in check down low for the most part. The stat sheet says that they had ten blocks, but I would have thought that number would have been much higher. We struggled shooting early, but JuJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore really stepped it up for us to keep it a game going into the second half.
I normally award my MVP of the game to someone who does something outside of the box. I try and look at things other than the stat sheet. Today though E’Twaun Moore and JuJuan Johnson scored points when the Boilers needed them the most. They were the men the entire game today. An honorable mention though should go to Kelsey Barlow who really ignited the team in the second half. He was able to penetrate, and open things up for the Boilers in the second half. Robbie Hummel had his second straight game with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He was off badly with his shot, but contributed as usual in other ways. This was a great game to be at. The atmosphere was tremendous. I don’t think that we will see this type of crowd again for a while in Mackey. West Virginia may be the next big game in the stadium. For now though I will just be happy with this great game.

Next up for the Boilermakers is Buffalo on Saturday. Buffalo is taking the place of Ball State who we will play in the Wooden Tradition on December 19th.
When I left the arena tonight the Big Ten had an early 3-0 lead in the challenge. Since that time the conference has dropped three straight to head into tomorrow tied at three wins a piece. Will this be the year that the Big Ten finally gets one of these?