Well, the regular season is finally over for Purdue following Sunday's 74-65 loss to Northwestern.
The Boilermakers closed the season losers of 11 out of their final 13 games. Prior to the Boilers' first matchup with Northwestern, Purdue was 13-5, 3-2 in the Big Ten with both losses being close losses. The Boilers were never the same after that three overtime loss in Evanston.
The loss Sunday to Northwestern gave the Boilers the 12-seed in the Big Ten tournament, meaning Purdue finished last in the Big Ten in both men's basketball and football in 2013-14, the first time that's ever happened.
The Boilers will now play either Iowa or Ohio State at 2:30 Thursday afternoon in the Big Ten Tournament. They've given me no reason to believe this season will extend beyond that Thursday afternoon game, barring a second-consecutive CBI appearance, which seems highly unlikely at this point.
On the bright side, Travis Carroll was great for Purdue today. He hit his fourth 3-pointer of his career. He hustled after rebounds. He did.. .well, he did what we've been begging most of the Purdue team to do for most of this season. His seven first-half points, along with six from fellow "senior" Errick Peck, were the only glimmer of offense Purdue seemed able to find in the first 20 minutes today.
Other than a handful of guys like Carroll and Raphael Davis (13 points, nine rebounds), Purdue was basically horrible today. The Boilers finished just over 35 percent from the field, but it took a hot-shooting last 10 minutes or so to get there. Kendall Stephens, the guy Purdue can usually rely on to hit shots, was 1-for-8 from the field. Not to be outdone, Ronnie Johnson was 0-for-6 from the field with four turnovers, not counting the numerous passes he threw that were almost stolen before going out of bounds.
Ronnie Johnson had a difficult end to the season, as he finished the season 7-for-29 with 12 assists and 11 turnovers in his last three games. Before that stretch, he was shooting 47 percent from the field with nearly twice as many assists as turnovers in Big Ten play.
The craziest part of the game today, to me, was despite a horrible showing both offensively and defensively for the most part, Purdue had a chance to cut the lead to four with more than 1:30 left. A.J. Hammons made the score 64-58 with a dunk. Purdue trapped out of the inbounds and forced Northwestern to call two timeouts in a row. When the Wildcats finally did get it in bounds, Purdue appeared to force both a travel and a 10-second call, neither of which was whistled. Drew Crawford went on to hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock hit zero to extend the Wildcat lead to 9 and severely damage any comeback hopes.
Crawford finished with 27 points for the Wildcats. Purdue was led by Davis and Hammons, with 13 each.