I admit that I was a little worried after Illinois blew out Purdue in January. They were also coming in hot, having scored a pretty nice upset of Iowa yesterday. Unfortunately for them, fatigue as a factor. Playing a third game in three days showed as they did not have their legs.
Purdue, who was resting comfortably in West Lafayette the last two days, had no such trouble. After Illinois set the Big Ten Tournament single game record with 14 threes on Wednesday the Boilers went after it themselves. Oh, and we still have A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas, who were a combined 10 of 10 from the floor for 20 points in the first half.
Honestly, this may have been Purdue's most complete game in awhile. They built an early lead and never let up until it was long decided. Jacquil Taylor and Kendall Stephens were able to have the bench surgically removed from their butts for the last 10 minutes (providing valuable rest of others, too). Illinois reverted to their regular form and Purdue was able to get the job done.
Honestly, it was nice to have a relaxing blowout in conference play for once. This team was ruthlessly efficient today. That's something we have been begging to see for awhile. As a lifelong Purdue fan my guard will always be up, but this really looks like a team that is peaking at the right time. As we know, that can change, but in the last four games Purdue has beaten a really good Maryland team, a Wisconsin team that was red hot, and absolutely crushed Nebraska and Illinois (whom they should have crushed).
I also have to compliment the defensive effort, too. It was great against Wisconsin, but after scoring 22 in the regular season game Purdue locked Kendrick Nunn in a box and didn't allow him to do anything. When you hold a team below 40% and then shoot close to 60% yourself it makes the formula for winning very easy.
Sure, Purdue won't get Indiana like most of us wanted tomorrow, but beating Michigan would be nice after blowing that game in Ann Arbor. The other downside of getting Illinois and Michigan instead of Iowa and Indiana is the lack of a discernable boost seeding-wise, but getting to Sunday should be enough to open the discussion for a 3 seed. I really don't think winning on Sunday will help much because the game ends just before the bracket is unveiled. It hasn't helped non-Purdue teams in the past.
So enjoy this one, and come on down to Indy tomorrow. There should be a flood of tickets on the market from Indiana fans.