One can never truly feel comfortable when Purdue plays on the road at IU. Some great Purdue teams have gone in there and walked out with their tail between their legs. I hate IU probably more than the average man but there’s something about playing in that arena that Purdue always struggles with. Not lately though. After defeating IU today 74-62 Purdue has now won four straight at Assembly Hall (or whatever mall it’s named after these days). Something seems to be clicking for this Purdue team right now and it is happening at the perfect time.
John Wooden Memorial Player of the Game (JWMPOTG): There are so many candidates today. Evan Boudreaux didn’t shoot particularly well but he found ways to impact the game like when he took two charges late in the second half or with the three offensive rebounds he grabbed. Isaiah Thompson is filling in nicely for his brother by taking, and hitting, big shots including 2-2 from three today. However, I’ve gotta give this one to Aaron Wheeler. I don’t know what’s happened this last week but something has finally clicked for this young man. He was 4-4 from the field today including 3-3 from three point land. He also grabbed three rebounds, had two assists, zero turnovers and even passed open a fourth three after making three in a row to find his teammate. He’s coming along and I love every moment of it.
If you were watching today’s game you might have had to watch the first few minutes in Spanish if you don’t have ESPNNews since the game prior to ours went into OT. I gotta say I enjoyed the Spanish broadcast because I didn’t have to listen to Dick Vitale talk about anything but the game in front of his face. I probably should’ve just stuck it out in Spanish.
As a Purdue fan watching a game at Assembly Hall I assumed that fouls would not be in the Boilermakers favor and it started out that way with Purdue at one point being on the losing end of a 6-1 foul disparity. Despite that Purdue hung in and was able to get off to possibly their best road start of the season. Purdue started 3-5 from three and was bringing real effort on the glass. The energy from Iowa was truly carrying over. As the internet says; You Love to See it.
Despite playing well in the first half, including the JWMPOTG hitting three threes Purdue found itself down 25-28. After the refs settled down a bit the fouls were 7-7 and Purdue found themselves on an 8-0 run to take a 33-28 lead. Purdue would finish the half on a 12-0 run with IU missing their last four shots of the half and Purdue taking full advantage. Purdue went into the break up 37-28.
Things happened at halftime involving an angry old man coming back. If you’re into that sort of thing enjoy it but as a great wise man once said “it’s a no from me dawg.” Moving on.
The entire second half had that awkward feeling for Purdue fans as we awaited the IU run or the other shoe to drop. It was tough to watch at times and not just because ESPN only allowed me to see the game on half a screen while they consistently showed announcers and old IU players. The nerves of playing at IU with a lead make these games so much fun to watch but also so nerve wracking. Purdue built the lead up to 16 and continued the hot shooting from three, 7-14 at one point.
With Purdue up 56-43 Purdue fans nationwide began to get uncomfortable as IU began a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to six. We all knew a run would come, but how would Purdue respond on the road against their greatest rival (sorry Iowa)? Purdue responded by going on a 9-0 run to push the lead back to 15. Five of these points came at the free throw line as Purdue was aggressive at getting the ball in the lane and to its big men. Haarms had five points of this 9-0 run. The run ended with just under four minutes to play when IU finally hit a layup. It was their first bucket in nearly five and a half minutes. At this point it was all over but the buzzer.
IU tried to put Nojel at the line to extend the game but he hit just enough to keep the game out of reach. He would make 4-6 during this time. Sasha and Boudreaux also had opportunities at the line that they would take advantage of. The game was capped off by a nice Evan Boudreaux dunk. Not the Purdue player I would’ve put money on for the dunk of the game but yet here we are.
Purdue walks out of Assembly Hall victorious for the fourth straight time. What a time to be alive. Purdue now sits at 14-10 (7-6) and is currently playing their best basketball of the season. Purdue’s next game is at home against a ranked Penn State team. Purdue will have yet another opportunity to make a statement. Today certainly was.