Ok guys, deep breathe, pull it all the way in, and then let it out slow. Now another, feel the air fill your body, and now slowly release, letting all tension leave your body with the exhale. Now, repeat after me, every win is beautiful. Again, every win is beautiful. Don't just say the words, become the words. Now onto the wrap up.
Purdue escaped The Barn (from hell) with a 68-64 victory. Purdue led throughout the game, but the pesky gophers refused to yield, and scratched their way back into the game late. Purdue had to come up with a few key defensive stops and hit a few clutch free throws to seal it at the end. Purdue appeared to be in cruise control with a double digit lead well into the 2nd half, when the turnover bug struck again, and let Minnesota back into the game. The Gophers must have pulled up the old V.C.U. film at halftime, because they went to the high pick and roll almost exclusively in the second half, giving the Boilermakers fits on defense. However, Purdue, led by a white hot Vince Edwards, managed to come up with enough plays to win a closely contested game. Good teams can win ugly, and I firmly believe Purdue is a good team. Remember folks, every win is beautiful.
Player of the Game: Vince Edwards
Vince has been on an absolute tear lately, and was clearly Purdue's best player tonight. Vince led the Boilermakers in points (24), tied for the lead in rebounds (8), led in assists (4), and led in steals (2). That's going to win you player of the game every time. Every time the Gophers made a big run, Edwards responded with a dagger, usually from 3, to calm everyone down and establish control of the game again. His contested 3 at the start of the second half to silence a raucous Minnesota crowd was nearly play of the game.
Play of the Game: Ray Davis
Ray Davis had one of his better performances of late, and came up huge at the end of the game, by blocking a 3 point attempt that would have given the Gophers the lead. I picked this play because I'm almost certain that 3 pointer was going to drop. That's just what happens to Purdue, but Ray managed to keep the ball safely away from the rim, and subsequently, some sort miracle bad bounce off the rim, bounce of the top of the backboard, hit of the heel, and roll in shot did not beat Purdue tonight. Good job Ray.
Problem of the Game: Defense
Defending the high pick and roll narrowly beat out turning the ball over while attempting to force the ball in the paint tonight, but it was close. I'm not sure what was going on with our pick and roll defense, and I'm pretty sure the players had no idea either. AJ Hammons, in particular, was brutal in attempting to guard the pick and roll. He would hedge over, leaving his man, and the point guard would pass it to his man for an easy two. There were 3 plays where A.J. was just sort of caught wandering aimlessly in the lane, not really hedging, but leaving his man at the same time. Purdue made Nate Mason look like Steve Nash tonight, and I can guarantee you're going to see a large dose of the high pick and roll the rest of the season, after Purdue's abysmal efforts to contain it tonight.
Final Word: Every Win Is Beautiful (more than one word, but it's my article, so I can take liberties)