When asked about accepting an invitation to the CIB, senior DJ Bird said simply: "I just want to play more games, it would be great if we could." Given the way things ended in the Big Ten Tournament for the Boilermakers, you can understand wanting a shot to get a sour taste out of your mouth.
Purdue trailed by as much as 11 early in the second half, but had clawed their way back into it by the closing minutes, with Byrd suddenly finding his rhythm from deep, hitting two three pointers with under three minutes to go, the first three point baskets for the Boilers all night. And while several missed free throws gave the Boilers plenty of chances to take the lead, poor rebounding and poor offensive execution in the final possession would wrap things up for the Huskers.
Purdue had its own free throw shooting woes, going 7-14 from the stripe, and in a game that was this close, it was probably the difference between a close win and a loss.
On defense Hammons and the other Purdue big men could not contain Brandon Ubel, who had 16 points off of 11 shots, and one crucially important offensive rebound late in the game. Shavon Shields as well had a banner night, scoring 19 off of 12 shots.
After the game, Painter seemed to be remarkably candid about his team, and about what sort of things he expects and rewards in his players. When asked about certain Purdue players who at one point were starters but not rarely see any minutes, he responded frankly: "They got beat out."
Whether Byrd gets his wish of playing in the CIB or not is yet to be seen, but as this is a very young team, extra practices and more live competition might not be the worst thing in the world.