Big Ten championship teams don’t lose games like tonight.
That is a bold statement, but there is precedent this season for Purdue stumbling in games exactly like this. On December 28th Purdue opened conference play with a dominant 89-67 win over Iowa. The Hawkeyes didn’t even look like they belonged on the same floor as Purdue. As a result, I assumed that the rematch in Iowa City would be an easy Purdue win.
Just 15 days later Iowa beat Purdue 83-78, with a giant assist from Bo Boroski suddenly thinking Ryan Cline was black. Sure, there is no guarantee Purdue scores with the ball down 1 and 11 seconds or so left, but it was a bad call. Even then, Purdue did not play well in the second half, blowing a nine point lead. It shouldn’t have been that close anyway.
Tonight is a chance for Purdue to show it has grown from that Iowa loss. Nine days after losing in Iowa City Purdue throttled Penn State 77-52 in West Lafayette. The margin was very similar to the win over Iowa. With a Big Ten title looming the Boilers cannot afford to stumble here like they did at Iowa.
From: State College, PA
Date : Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Tip Time: 6pm ET
Location: State College, PA
Arena: Bryce Jordan Center (15,261)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: Purdue by 8
2015-16 Record: 16-16. 7-11 Big Ten
2016-17 Record: 14-13, 6-8
Opponent Blog: Black Shoe Diaries
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 34-12
Last Penn State Win: 79-68 at Penn State on 2/2/2014
Last Purdue Win: 77-52 at Purdue on 1/21/2017
NCAA Tournament History: 9 Appearances, last in 2011. 1954 Final Four
Penn State is an odd team to figure. They did us a huge favor two weeks ago in knocking off Maryland 70-64 at home. The last four ranked teams to go into the Mausoleum (Maryland, Minnesota, Iowa, and Indiana) have lost. Perhaps even crazier, Penn State is the only Big Ten team to ever lose to Rutgers at home since the Scarlet Knights joined the league. In a span of 4 days they lost at home to Rutgers, but beat Maryland.
Yeah, I don’t get it either.
What you have is a very young team that has talent, but can have wild swings. Give them the Rutgers game and two agonizing close losses to Indiana (one in triple overtime) and this team is 17-10, 9-5 and possibly fighting for an NCAA berth. In conference play they are 2-5 on the road, but 4-3 at home.
In the first game with Purdue Penn State was pretty awful. They shot only 31% from the floor, got to the line just 6 times, and had no answer defensively for Purdue. Caleb Swanigan had a 19 and 12 with 4 assists. The only player in double figures was Josh Reaves with 11 points, and he averages just 7.5. Purdue completely shut down their four scorers that average in double figures. Tony Carr had only 6 points on 2 of 11 shooting. Lamar Stevens had just 4 points on 2 of 7 shooting. Shep Garner had 6 points while going 3 of 9, and Payton Banks had 9 points on 3 of 9 shooting.
Those four normally average 48.4 points per game, but they had just 25 points and hit only hit 10 of 36 field goals. It was one of Purdue’s most impressive defensive performances of the season and if the Boilers can replicate it tonight we will win easily.
In the Maryland win it was Stevens who went off, as he had 25 and got to the free throw line 12 times. Garner is also capable of a 6 for 8 from three type of game.
In addition to great defense in the first game Purdue rebounded well (39-30) and played great team basketball. The boilers had 23 assists on 30 made field goals. Even the walk-ons got in on sharing the ball, as Tommy Luce had two assists and Jon McKeeman dropped a dime.
That’s what I am looking for tonight. Purdue is the better team and had absolutely no trouble winning in West Lafayette. The Nittany Lions led for only 18 seconds at 2-0 before Purdue went on an 18-2 run and put them away early. The Boilers need to act like they are the better team tonight. Penn State has the talent to pull off a surprise if Purdue is not dialed in, but so does anyone else in this league aside from Rutgers. As usual, we need to avoid falling asleep in front of the fan in attendance. The Big Ten title is there for the taking as long as we stay focused.
Take care of business tonight, boys.