DJ Byrd might be one of the most frustrating players to watch. When he plays his game, he is deadly from behind the arc and a pest on defense. When he presses, it can turn ugly quickly. On Wednesday, his hustle and grit pushed Purdue to a massive win over Illinois.
He may have finished with 15 points but two plays stood out the most. First, Purdue needed to come up with a key rebound after missing free throws. Byrd got position for the board, grabbed it while on his knees and managed to get the timeout called before he fell out of bounds. This play ignited the crowd and looked like it would be the game decider. Trust me, it was.
The next time Purdue inbounded the ball, it went to Byrd. All he did was absorb contact and throw in a layup plus the foul. A five point lead with 20 seconds left proved to be enough. The team needed this and needed to see this from Byrd.
He and Terone Johnson are going to drive this team. They will go as far as these two can take them. Terone threw up a 25 and 9 and had some clutch plays as well. However, it was the grit from Byrd that proved to be the final dagger in the game. It is something the team is going to need from him for the rest of the year.
It was only fitting that former Purdue pest Chris Kramer was on hand for the game. Byrd’s defense and his hustle would do him proud.