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So What Now?

According to some, we should clearly quit on the season.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio State at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Well, we lost a game.

It is the first time in over two months that Purdue lost a basketball game. It was also at home, which really hurts. Carsen Edwards had a career high, we led by 14 points at one point, and Purdue led for more than 34 minutes overall, but that didn’t matter. Keita Bates-Diop’s rebound basket with 2.8 seconds left was the difference.

Why did Purdue lose? Well, there were a variety of reasons:

· Ohio State happens to be a good team that did not fold when they fell behind by 14 with 10:15 left.

· Purdue went cold from the field for the last 10:15. Purdue hit only two field goals in that time, an open three from Vince and Vince’s And-1 with 52 seconds left.

· P.J. Thompson missed on five three-pointers, two of them wide open looks in the last 8 minutes when that is his usual time to make those shots. He has done that his entire career. When he missed a wide open three with 2:32 left and Purdue up 60-57 I was stunned.

· Ohio State’s defense did an excellent job of extending and disrupting Purdue’s flow.

· Ohio State also changed things up on Carsen Edwards. Much was made about Painter “taking him out when he was hot”, but if you look at the substitution logs. He went out with 9:05 left and Purdue leading 53-44 and he returned with 7:54 left and Purdue leading 53-45.

· Ohio State was forced to go super small on Purdue, which was to their benefit. Smaller, quicker teams have been our kryptonite all year. They were quicker defensively, denying Isaac Haas the ball down low, and on the other end they did what teams have been trying to do for a while now: use that quickness to neutralize Haas. It is a dangerous game teams are playing because they’re basically betting that Haas’ defensive liabilities will outweigh his offense, but it is one of the few things that has worked against us.

· Purdue shot just 42.6% from the floor. Only four players scored points for Purdue, and in the final 10 minutes we got 8 from Vince and 2 from Carsen. That’s it.

· The bench was not only scoreless, it had one field goal attempt.

· Musa Jallow was 3 for 4 from 3 after being 8 of 35 coming in without a made three since Miami (OH) in late December.

· Andre Wesson was 3 for 5 from 3 after being 9 of 36 coming in. this included an ugly-assed banked in three with 1:16 left that gave them the lead on a 23-7 run. It was kind of karmic, as they lost a Big Ten game on a banked-in three at home.

· Haas bricked a wide-open dunk, Carsen missed the front end of a critical 1-and-1 with 6:37 left and Purdue up 5, Dakota Mathias had uncharacteristic turnovers, and Vince was 3 of 12 from the floor.

· After doing a good job on the glass the whole game (Purdue was outrebounded 31-30) we couldn’t secure one when it mattered most. It happens. Yes, Bates-Diop scored on a putback, but Purdue had the previous rebound with 16 seconds left and a 1 point lead, but it was tipped away back to Ohio State. That was the bigger one.

So what now?

Predictably, the Ainters are having a field day. A one point loss to a ranked team is clearly a sign that he can’t get it done and the season is over in their eyes. I admit, this one stings. You shouldn’t lose at home when you lead for 34:41 of 40 minutes. You shouldn’t lose at home when you have a 14 point lead with 10 minutes left. This was costly because we were seconds away from securing a 2-game lead in the conference with five to play, but now we’re tied and a really difficult game is up next. It also raises those old questions in the back of our heads. Purdue is now 0-2 against the two best teams (Tennessee and Ohio State) it has played according to KenPom. Also, let’s be honest, it was a very “old Purdue” loss. It also stings because while we had won 19 in a row, this was a “prove it” game. It took a whole lot going wrong to lose by a point, but a loss is still a lose. people will see it and think “Yep, Purdue couldn’t get it done when really challenged”, and a loss Saturday will only add to that narrative.

The thing is, we can piss and moan or we can do something about it. Purdue still controls its destiny for at least a share of the Big Ten title, and a win Saturday makes one even more likely. Of course, it won’t be easy. Michigan State is really good and I felt we were going to get a split this week with a loss in East Lansing anyway. They can be beaten, however. Purdue has not shot the basketball well of late and is due to have a good night.

As far as the big picture goes, even a loss on Saturday, while it would hurt, is far from crippling. A win Saturday means Purdue just needs to avoid a bad loss and probably reach Saturday of the Big Ten Tournament to stay on the 1 seed line. A loss probably knocks us down to the 2 line behind Michigan State, but there is still time to climb back up. It is not like others are setting the world on fire right now. Villanova, the nation’s No. 1 team, just got a much, much worse loss. There is some cushion there, and the Big Ten Tournament in New York is the fallback for another chance at the likes of Ohio State and Michigan State.

This season is still far from over. Barring a disaster Purdue is probably losing one more regular season game at most and will be a 2 seed at worst on Selection Sunday. Instead of running away with the Big Ten we’re in a dogfight against two other very good teams and could easily end up in a three-way tie at 16-2. We also still happen to be a really, really good team that most do not want to play in March. The goals remain the same.

We can either piss and moan about it or do something about it. I think I know what these players will do.