This is why you don't redshirt Ryan Cline.
Yes, the bigger story was a huge effort of 24 points and 12 rebounds from A.J. Hammons that included two threes and huge play after huge play in the second half, but cline, just a freshman, was a cold-blooded assassin that took full advantage of the attention Hammons got in the post.
Cline was 4 of 4 from long range in the second half, and all four came within a critical stretch from 11:37 to 5:28. For six minutes he told 12,508 people in the Petersen Events Center to shut up. Here was each three:
No. 1 - 11:37 2nd Half - After it looked like Purdue was going to run the Panthers out of their own gym Pitt climbed back in it. Purdue could not have played better in the first 10 minutes. It was pretty much basketball Nirvana as the Boilers quieted the home crowd and jumped out to a 24-7 lead. The run was capped by a beautiful steal and alley-oop dunk from Kendall Stephens to A.J. Hammons. It looked like Purdue would roll, but good teams make adjustments, and Pittsburgh is a good team. The Panthers shifted to a zone and held Purdue to five points in the final 10:34 of the half.
They closed the gap to three by halftime and with 12:23 left finally took a lead on a basket from James Robinson. With all the momentum. Stephens missed another three, but an offensive rebound from Johnny Hill led to a triple from Cline that gave Purdue the lead right back. The Boilers would never trail again.
No. 2 - 7:57 2nd Half - In a tense game where Purdue could not seem to get a lead larger than three the Boilers found themselves with the basketball up 52-50. Hammons was doing his work inside, but he found an open Cline in the corner for a triplet hat pushed the lead to five and started to break the game open.
No. 3 - 6:24 2nd Half - The third time was the charm on this three. Purdue had twice gotten a defensive stop, but could not push the lead above five. It was still 55-50 after his previous three, but this time it would be Stephens that would find Cline as he made it 58-50. This also forced a Pittsburgh timeout.
No. 4 - 5:28 2nd Half - Purdue's defense (and another Hammons defensive rebound) did it again, and Cline pushed the lead to 61-50 on an assist by Edwards. This was really the backbreaker. Pittsburgh would have one more small run to cut it to six, but the three straight triples from Cline effectively knocked them out after they had to exert so much energy to get back in it earlier.
There was so much else to like here. Purdue just beat an NCAA caliber team on the road by 13 points WITHOUT ITS HEART AND SOUL IN RAPHEAL DAVIS! They showed poise to pop them in the mouth a great start, survived a sustained wave of momentum that got a great home crown back into it, then used the inside-out of Hammons and Cline to finish the job. This is what great teams do. So many other Purdue teams would have folded, but Purdue actually got better.
There were little things too. Johnny Hill had some HUGE offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive. Caleb Swanigan struggled offensively, but had some big rebounds as well. Vince had a quiet 9 points and 6 assists. Even Kendall, who built a small house with his bricks, had five assists. This was a great, great team win that will pay some huge dividends come March, and now Purdue has a long stretch of games it should win before another tough game against Butler in Indianapolis.
Enjoy this, boys. We're going to be a top 10 team next week(as long as we don't get upset by New Mexico).