What do Eastern Washington and Purdue have in common? They are the only teams to walk into Assembly Hall and beat Indiana this year. It certainly wasn't easy. The Boilers had to survive Kevin Ferrell, a Fear of God type player, getting a good look at a go-ahead three with eight seconds left. Ferrell absolutely terrifies me because he is exactly who you want with the ball in that situation.
A minute and a half earlier he hit a similar three to put the Hoosiers in front and it felt like a classic Purdue loss. You know the type. The Boilers lead for most of the game, like Kansas in 2012, only to lose it in the final minute or two.
But Rapheal Davis, the Captain, had other ideas.
What can you say about this kid? He is an old-school Boiler. He has taken the last two seasons personally and has played amazing basketball in Big Ten play. He is the leader this team has needed since Hummel & Co. left. He put Purdue back in front with a tough basket with 1:24 left, scored again after a timeout with 36 seconds left to put us up three, and hit a free throw with 15 seconds left. He finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and virtually handcuffed James Blackmon for most of the game. He refused to let Purdue lose tonight.
Then there is A.J. Hammons. What can you say? He has dominated Indiana this year. When Hanner Mosquera-Perea had eight early points he was able to draw some fouls and get him out of the game. This was huge because IU was a different team offensively with him in. He only had two the rest of the way.
You have to credit the entire team though. Purdue was down 20-12 and on a cold stretch early on, but it didn't falter. They got the game back at their pace instead of Indiana's (which is how the Hoosiers built their lead), and made it a grind-it-out special that would have made Gene Keady and Bobby Knight proud.
And proud is exactly what we should be of this team. They were dead at the end of December. At 8-5 and trailing Minnesota by 8 late in the Big Ten opener things looked really bad. Now they are 10-4 and could easily be 12-2 in the B1G if not for two bad stretches at Minnesota and Illinois. Tonight they played with grit, heart, and determination. Everyone was involved:
- Jon Octeus had the ridiculous dunk that killed Collin Hartman. That put Purdue ahead 37-35 and we wouldn't relinquish the lead until the late Ferrell three.
- Dakota Mathias started the game with a big three and had a savvy basket in the second half that was big.
- Bryson Scott had a good driving basket and almost sealed it with a late steal and score if not for his offensive foul.
- Vince Edwards only had two points, but they came from the line to tie it at the start of the second half and he had four very big assists.
- Isaac Haas had 12 points, 9 rebounds, and was a perfect 6 of 6 from the line. All six were pressure free throws too. Damn fine effort for the freshman.
- Finally, there was A.J. 20 points, he missed one field goal, and iced the game at the line. Scream all you want, big man.
I love this team's fight. They haven't quit all year long and now will be in an excellent position to make the NCAA Tournament if they can take care of business at home. Getting another road game wouldn't be impossible, either. They fight like mad bastards and look like a team that if they do make the tournament, they will be a nasty out for some unlucky team to draw them.
Enjoy this one, Boiler fans. It has been 733 days and counting since Indiana has beaten us.