When I look back at the 2009-10 Purdue basketball season there is a lot of good and a lot of hurt. The Robbie Hummel injury casts a pall over everything. If he doesn’t go down, Purdue is very likely a No. 1 seed with a favorable path to the Final Four in Indianapolis less than 70 miles from campus. It was to be the culmination of a three-year build with the Johnson-Hummel-Moore crew. Absolutely everything was set for that run, and it is unfair that it ended the way it did. Juan has often said that our Final Four will come when we least expect it, and the 2018-19 season was pretty close to that. Still, the 2009-10 deserved a Final Four, and this game shows it.
#4 Purdue 77, #6 West Virginia 62 – January 1, 2010
Has it really been 10 years since this game? It is one of the most memorable in Mackey Arena because even without the full Paint Crew in attendance the fans brought it. I will never forget Bob Huggins, near the end of the game, basically saying, “Whatever. Let’s just get out of here.”
And I also have to credit Huggins for this. There is a great mutual respect there between Matt Painter and Huggins. We have seen it over the years with the Secret Scrimmage because each wants to make their teams better. This was the first extremely rare double home-and-home where Purdue and West Virginia would play twice on each other’s home floor in a five-year span. I really think Huggins wants Purdue to get better and sees our program as way for his team to get better. The same is true for Painter. A lot of Purdue fans respect West Virginia greatly because of this. This coming season’s game in New York feels like a continuation of that.
A year before this game Purdue hosted Duke in a highly anticipated regular season game that proved the Baby Boilers were not quite ready for prime time. This time, Purdue was ready. The Boilers were 12-0 with a top 10 win already under its belt. The Boilers were off to their best start since 1994 and had their highest ranking since 1988. West Virginia was also undefeated. This got the highly prized mid-afternoon slot on New Year’s Day on ESPN, so the eyes of the nation were on Mackey Arena.
Both teams came out pretty strong early, and the overall size of West Virginia was going to be an issue. Kevin Jones and Devin Ebanks were solid interior players and they helped lead to a 12-12 tie after eight minutes. For much of the first half neither team could get much separation. The Mountaineers took a 20-19 lead with 8:43 left in the half on a three from Dalton Pepper, but that is when Purdue made its move.
The Boilers ripped off a 13-0 run where everyone seemed to contribute. E’Twaun Moore had a three. Kelsey Barlow had a layup. Keaton Grant had a pair of buckets. JaJuan Johnson had a few free throws. The run took roughly four minutes, but Mackey was at full boil.
The Mountaineers would close to within 37-32 at the half, but the second half was all Purdue. Moore scored five straight to start the second half and push the lead back to 10. After a Da’Sean Butler basket the Boilers would add nine more to their lead on a JJ basket, Grant basket, Ryne Smith three, and Hummel basket. Just three and a half minutes into the half Purdue had pushed a 37-32 halftime lead to 51-34 with a 14-2 run, forcing a timeout.
West Virginia’s Jonnie West provided a three out of the media timeout, but Purdue added six more to push the lead to 20 at 57-37 with 14:29 left. A John Flowers basket led to a 7-0 run, five of which came from Hummel. It seemed like every time West Virginia would score the Boilers would score six or seven more. By midway through the second half Purdue was up 25 and the body language of West Virginia showed they wanted to be anywhere else in the universe at that moment aside from Mackey Arena.
Jumboheroes was there too:
This was a scary matchup going in. West Virginia was known for their incredible defense and their tenacious press. Purdue had played only one ranked team up to this point so there was a real question about what they were capable of. This game was a drubbing. It wasn’t even close for the majority of the game and it ranks up there with the loudest I’ve ever heard Mackey.
I had an extra ticket to this game and took a friend from my church who is a North Carolina fan, but loves college basketball in general. It was his first visit to Mackey and he was blown away by the atmosphere. I think to this day it is his lone trip to Mackey, but what a game to make your only trip.
Bob Huggins had some great comments afterwards:
“It’s a hard environment to play in, and second, I’ve got a lot of young kids, and they’ve got veterans. One team dictated how the game was going to be played. We didn’t respond. We’re going to play at Connecticut and at Villanova. We’d better learn how to play in these types of environments.”
Butler also had a lot to say:
“It was pretty much like a debacle, honestly. They pressure the ball, but the thing they really did is just took us out of a lot of stuff. It’s very difficult when we’re being taken out of our offense, and guys aren’t coming to the ball. We were getting taken out of our offense, and we didn’t take them out of anything. They just scored whenever they wanted.”
The 15-point final margin was definitely one of those “it wasn’t even that close” margins. Butler led them with 17 points and they shot 75% from three, but Purdue forced 18 turnovers and the Hummel-Moore-Johnson trio combined to score 58 points. Chris Kramer only had one steal and one field goal attempt in 24 minutes, but was still quite effective on defense.
I think one of the things that stands out (and hurts most) about this game is that Purdue was not at full strength coming in. Lewis Jackson was still out of the lineup. He had not played a single minute of the season to this point, and would not return for a few weeks due to a foot injury. His first game came on January 28 against Wisconsin, and he was just rounding into form when That Night in The Barn happened.
Purdue absolutely dominated a team that would eventually finish 24-6 heading into the postseason. They would then win the Big East Tournament and reach the Final Four. Combined with Purdue’s later win at Michigan State the Boilers defeated half of that year’s Final Four, one in a blowout and the other on its home floor (with the MSU return game at Mackey coming after the Hummel injury when Purdue was still shell-shocked).
The four No. 1 seeds that season were Syracuse, Duke, Kansas, And Kentucky. If Hummel doesn’t get hurt Purdue either takes Duke or Syracuse’s top seed. If they take Syracuse’s they get Butler in the Sweet 16, and maybe Butler’s run doesn’t happen (or Brad Stevens isn’t coaching the Celtics today).
This game showed that 2010 should have been The Year. Now, 10 years later, we’re still waiting for The Year.