In a back-and-forth match for much of the game, Purdue fought hard and earned a victory over fellow bubble team Northwestern. The home victory snaps a two game losing streak for Purdue and was necessary for the Boilers to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
Purdue overcame 12 straight missed shots in the first half and an offense that looked uncomfortable at times against Northwestern’s 1-3-1 zone. Nonetheless, the Boilers were boosted by 11-23 three point shooting from catalysts Hummel, Byrd, and Smith. The Boilers also held a huge edge on the glass (38-25 per ESPN), including many offensive rebounds that extended possessions and kept the ball out of Northwestern’s hands.
More game notes:
- Purdue’s Kelsey Barlow and Northwestern’s Drew Crawford got into it after a personal foul against Barlow when he was guarding Crawford on the perimeter. Technical fouls were called on both players and the spat was short lived, but certainly caught the attention of the officials. Crawford was later ejected (although strangely not escorted to the locker room) when he was called for a charge and he spiked the ball in frustration. The funny twist was that the charge call was overturned after a video review when officials discovered that Byrd, who drew the charge, was actually inside the “no charge” arc under the basket.
- Purdue was ice cold during its run of 12 missed shots and was 3-28 at one point in the first half. Things picked up at the end of the half behind Hummel’s shooting and the Boilers can actually attribute this win to the hot shooting of Byrd, Hummel, and Smith, who combined for 10-21 from three point land. As a team, the Boilers shot 11 of 23 from behind the arc for 47.8%. If you take away the hot three point shooting, Purdue shot only 15-38 from the field. Much of these missed shots were close range floaters and even lay-ups. It was frustrating to watch Purdue blow easy opportunities and have to rely on perimeter shooting to eventually pull ahead of the Wildcats.
- Purdue played solid defense against Northwestern’s Princeton style offense, but was burnt a couple of times on backdoor cuts. John Shurna scored a game high 30 points despite having the most awkward shot release that I can remember. Reggie Hearn, Drew Crawford, and Dave Soboleski also scored in double figures for the Wildcats. In its defensive strategy, Purdue utilized a four guard lineup for the entire game with Travis Carroll being the only Purdue big man to get any minutes (just 3). Purdue saves this wacky minutes distribution and four guard lineup only for Northwestern’s brand of basketball. Hummel and Ryne Smith each played 39 minutes, while DJ Byrd played 36. Barlow played 29, Lewis Jackson played 25, and Terone Johnson played 18 minutes. No other Purdue players broke 10 minutes.
- This was a must win game for Purdue. Looking ahead, they now have @Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, @Michigan, Penn State, and @Indiana. Purdue must win three of those six, but at least four would be ideal. In any event, the Boilers will have to pick up wins in the Big Ten Tournament. If Purdue had lost at home to Northwestern, they would have made their road to the Tourney even more challenging.