Purdue Boilermakers Need To Learn To Play Better In Crunch Time

By Brian Lester
Sandra Dukes – US Presswire

With two minutes to play Thursday night at Madison Square Garden, the Purdue Boilermakers seemed poised to hand the Villanova Wildcats their first loss of the season.

Purdue was up 70-62 but couldn’t hang onto the lead in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic. Four turnovers down the stretch didn’t help as the Wildcats rallied to tie the game in regulation and escape with an 89-81 win in overtime.

No one ever said the Boilermakers were going to be a force to be reckoned with this season. But Purdue could easily be 2-1 at this point instead of 1-2.

D.J. Byrd was a definite bright spot for the Boilermakers in the wake of defeat. He scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.

Byrd also dished out five assists. He had four turnovers as well, and obviously, if he is going to be a go-to player for the Boilermakers this year, he needs to do a little better job of taking care of the basketball.

Purdue shot 39 percent from the floor and only hit five treys. It turned the ball over 17 times and had four players in double figures.

The setback didn’t sit well with head coach Matt Painter.

“We had every opportunity to win but we went above and beyond the call of duty to lose,” Painter said in an Associated Press story. “Missed free throws, turnovers, stupid fouls at the end. This has to be a learning experience but we have to have discipline because when you don’t crazy things happen.”

The issues Purdue had in the loss to Villanova can be fixed. There is plenty of time to make it happen. And if the Boilermakers can figure out how to play better basketball, especially in crunch time, they have a chance to be a pretty good team this season.

Brian Lester is a featured Big Ten columnist and college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993 or send him an email at collegehoopswriter@hotmail.com.

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