Purdue 65, Penn State 64: Did That Just Happen?

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue pulls off a huge comeback to win its third game in a row.

What. A. Finish. Purdue just went David Copperfield on that game and pulled a win out of a magic hat. After 39+ minutes of one of the ugliest games in recent memory, Purdue found itself down three with under 17 seconds to go. The Boilers came out of a timeout and ran their handoff offense at the top of the key, looking like they would do the usual (settle for a less-than-stellar shot, close to the buzzer) when Terone Johnson caught the ball on the wing and pulled the ultimate "No no no no YES!" shot out of his...well, who knows where it came from.

That tied the game up. After a Penn State timeout, Ronnie Johnson swatted the inbound pass and Sterling Carter came away with the steal and Matt Painter took advantage of the weight he's lost in the last two years by sprinting down the sideline to call timeout.

Out of the timeout, Purdue had 1.6 seconds to work a miracle. The Boilers went with the lob pass to AJ Hammons, who not-surprisingly bobbled the ball...but WAIT! There was a whistle! The refs, the same refs that let a physical game go all game, called Penn State for a foul and sent Hammons to the line with 1.1 seconds left and the game tied.

Hammons hit the first and then, as the guys at @BoiledSports pointed out on Twitter, ironically Purdue needed him to brick his second to secure the game. He did, and Purdue moved into 4th in the Big Ten standings..

The Good

1. As Tweeter @Sevans1956 pointed out, "My son said he can't remember the last time the Boilers won a game like that. Lost a game like that? Yes." That got me thinking, and I have to agree with him. This is a game the Purdue teams of the last few seasons haven't won games like this. Heck, I'm not sure this team could've come up with this win two weeks ago. Yes, plenty of luck was involved, but it also involved making plays. Finally, a Purdue team made plays.

2. Basil Smotherman was simply great in this game. He finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but even more impressive was his presence. It's hard to quantify, but he just seemed to be in the right place at the right time, making plays when Purdue needed them most. Going 6-of-7 from the free-throw line is just an added bonus.

The Not-So-Good

1. For much of this game, you wouldn't know that Purdue had a post player in the game, not to mention a post player who, over the last few weeks, is starting to make a case for First-team All-Big Ten. Hammons had two points on two field goal attempts until late in the game. It wasn't just Hammons not capitalizing on opportunities or turning it over; it just didn't seem like it was in the game plan for the Boilers to take advantage of Hammons's size and the fact Penn State has no one on its roster who could stop him. Late in the game, this finally seemed to change and he finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds, but all 10 points came from the foul line.

2. Really, other than Smotherman, no Purdue players were particularly impressive. This team continues to play to the level of it's competition. Today it did so without getting burnt, but over the long term that's not a great strategy. This was a game Purdue couldn't lose. It would firmly appear in the "bad loss" column; there's no other way to spin it. With that said, I'm not going to spend much time criticizing guys after a win.

3. The officiating, however, does need to be mentioned. Compared to the foul-fests of earlier this season, this looked more like a Mick Foley Hardcore Match from the WWF. It took a near-death situation for a foul to be called for the most part. Don't think I'm complaining though. It was a fairly called game, for the most part. That said, Purdue caught a huge break when the refs let the Jay Simpson inbound the last play from right in front of Purdue's bench, at least a 15-foot difference from where the ball was when the timeout was called. Pat Chambers seemed to protest it, but the refs seemed to waive him off. Maybe the NCAA recently instituted an NBA-style advance-the-ball rule I didn't hear about and they had the right spot, but I don't think so.

The Random

1. Several media members reported Pat Chambers's press conference lasted 66 seconds, mostly because there were no PSU media in the building. That's kind of funny.

2. It was reported after the game that while the teams waited for the refs to decide how much time was on the clock after Hammons was fouled, coach Painter tried to take the big man's mind off the upcoming shots by asking him what he was getting on his postgame pizza (meatlovers with pineapple and jalapenos). I found this funny.

UPDATE: Here are your game highlights.


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