The Purdue basketball season has entered a free fall. After a back and forth start to the season, tough games, and close losses, the boilers have slide effortlessly into a final stretch where good wins waited with each upcoming game.
Those good wins have vanished in a four game streak of consistently bad offense, disappointing defense, and the loss of Mackey magic as it failed to hold the Wolverines from a nearly wire to wire dominance of Purdue, ending in a 71-63 win.
This is Purdue 4th straight loss, and the games ahead of them are getting so small in stature, that the must-win tags that were prematurely added the last few games is possibly added post-homous at this point.
Purdue looked in charge of their destiny, on the upswing, and firmly emerged in the NCAA tournament is now rapidly escaping the dance picture altogether.
Which makes Purdue’s performance and energy so confusing and disheartening for a team that expects March entrance and success at this point. This was a Coach Painter team that despite losing Ryan Cline and Carsen Edwards in the off season, came into this season with a top-25 rankings and a fourth sweet-16 in a row aspiration.
Neither of those things seem even remotely on the horizon for this particular Boilermaker squad with their current state of play.
Michigan shot less than 40% from the floor. They were just 6 of 25 from three-pointers. Franz Wagner was the only Michigan player to shoot above 50% on the evening and still the Wolverines dominated the Boilers for most the afternoon by double-digits.
A frantic, last three-minute, foul-filled second half pulled the game into single figures, but the Boilers went into the first half with a double-digit deficit and barely any closer to challenging Juwan Howard’s squad.
Purdue turned the ball over 12 times, Michigan just 3. Almost all of the game stats lean towards the Boilers - they shot better, rebounded better, but numbers occasionally lie. Purdue looked sloppy, full of torpor, and didn’t play like their post-season life was hanging in the balance.
Michigan just played like a far superior team.
Trevion Williams scored 18 points for Purdue but needed 21 shots to do it. Sasha Stefanovic made all 3 of his three-pointers and might have been the lone bright spot on the team.
The rest of the Boiler team had 1 three made on 13 attempts.
At this point, Purdue is out of platitudes, they’re running out of time, and have securely landed in must win-out mode. Their momentum has shifted entirely towards the ground.
The only good news is they still have three for sure good wins on their scheedule coming up: hosting Indiana on Thursday, heading to Iowa after, and then finishing the season hosting Rutgers.
The question now becomes, what can Coach Painter pull out of a team in free-fall.
Purdue will get their arch rivals Thursday to find out.