The Purdue men's basketball team became the first of the University's football and basketball teams to record a conference win of the 2013-14 school year with its 70-64 win over Nebraska Sunday, snapping a 12-game skid that is made up mostly of Darrel Hazell's first football season in West Lafayette.
The usual complaints can still be made about this team - they play long, uninspired stretches of sloppy basketball; they're inconsistent; they miss too many free throws; they play Hammons (or Simpson) and Ronnie (or Bryson) too much; they didn't play zone; etc. (I think that covers everything?).
Despite all that, Purdue managed to beat a Nebraska team that has proven itself to be a tough out this conference season (Ohio State game withstanding). Purdue led 35-32 at halftime despite A.J. Hammons battling foul trouble for much of the first half.
The second half saw Purdue turn the ball over repeatedly, yet still maintain control of the lead for much of the game. Yet the Boilers never led by more than two possessions until the final 30 seconds of this battle of teams with an affinity for missed free throws and fouls.
Sterling Carter provided a great spark off the bench for the Boilers with eight points and seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Jay Simpson remembered what it was like to be effective on the offensive end for the first time in what feels like months, scoring seven points (including one step-out 3-pointer).
Hammons was neither dominant nor worthless, recording a season-high 18 points yet grabbing just three rebounds while battling foul trouble.
Ronnie Johnson had an effective 14 points on 5-of-7 from the field, including a stretch late in the game where he simply took over, yet he negated much of this when he struggled mightily from the free-throw line down the stretch, finishing 4-of-10 from the charity stripe. It continues to impress me how confident he is in himself late in games, demonstrated by his unwillingness to pass the ball in clear "they're gonna foul" situations despite repeated struggles from the line.
Is this a good win for Purdue? Not necessarily. However it is a win the Boilers simply needed. You simply can't lose to Nebraska at home if you don't want to be hanging out at the bottom of the Big Ten standings all season.