I know it's a cliche, and we do say it a lot around here (which makes a cliche), but this is game recent Purdue teams would have lost. After Purdue pushed an 11 point lead in the 2nd half, Wisconsin cut the Boilers' lead to 3 after a jump shot from Alex Illikainen. At that point, I was really wishing I didn't have to drive home from Harry's so I could have another drink. Thankfully, Dakota Mathias stepped in with not one, but two 3-point daggers to all but put away the Badgers. Though Wisconsin wasn't *completely* dead yet after Hammons missed PJ on a pass underneath Wisconsin's basket, Rapheal Davis proved why he was Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten by intercepting the Badgers' inbound pass and drove the ball to the hoop for the final dagger.
I know Wisconsin is down this season, but it always feels good to come out of Madison with a win. Purdue/Wisconsin games are always classical defensive show downs, and had I not looked towards the Wisconsin bench, I would have assumed Bo was still pacing their sidelines. This Wisconsin team will improve throughout the next few years, but this season will be used to lay the foundation for 2016, and I expect them to still make a few upsets throughout the rest of conference play. Glad Purdue could get their road trip to Madison out of the way early on.
And now, here are some of my quick takes from today's game:
- AJ Hammons continues to dominate, and he finished with 24 points, 6/6 on free throws, and 7 rebounds. He did finish with 5 turnovers, but overall it was another great game for AJ. According to Game Tracker, he had no blocks. I don't believe it. Even if he didn't get his hands on the ball, he was certainly forcing Wisconsin to take bad shots under the basket. Why AJ doesn't start is beyond me. At this point, I think Painter and Hammons are collaborating to purposefully inflate Purdue's bench numbers and automatically give AJ B1G's 6th Man Player of the Year award, which he will have to automatically share with the Paint Crew.
- I haven't checked the comments on the game thread or most of Twitter, but I assume there is criticism about Swanigan's performance tonight. Certainly, Biggie finished with a big 0 on the score sheet, missing 5 field goal attempts, 3 of them from behind the arc. I'm not a basketball expert, but I'm going to say that's not good. Unless he has a wide open shot or the shot clock is down to 1 second, only then should Biggie take a 3. Of course I say this and Biggie will go ahead and make 10 3-pointers against Iowa Saturday night, find me in the crowd, point at me and say "You like that, bro?" (P.S.: Biggie if you're reading this, I will be in section 114. I'll be glad if you prove me wrong). The good news is that Swanigan finished with 9 rebounds and only 1 turnover (and only 1 foul), so I wouldn't say Caleb had a bad night. Had just 2 of his shots gone down I think we could say Biggie had a good game.
- Dakota Mathias woke up tonight just in time to put the Badgers away, as mentioned earlier. He has been a little quiet lately (along with most of Purdue's players behind the arc), but he made his only two 3 point attempts when it mattered most. Dakota, along with Kendall Stephens, are improving their game beyond their 3-point shooting and it is helping this team win. Kendall may have only had 2 points, but they came off a nice drive to the hoop in the 1st half, and in these kinds of games, every point matters.
- On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: TOOOOO MANYYYYY TURNOVERRRRRRS! (And thus ending my career in making parody lyrics.) Purdue had 10 turnovers at the end of the 1st half, and while they cut down on them in the 2nd half, it was killing Purdue's production, especially in the paint, early on in the half. Haas finished with only 6 points, but he could have reached double digits had the first two passes to him in the first minutes of the game not been given to Wisconsin. Granted, the Badgers played great defense tonight, but these TOs will cost Purdue in future B1G match ups. Hammons finished with 5 of them, one of them coming off an eventual travel in the 2nd half, and the other mentioned above when he missed PJ in the last seconds of the game. Haas also committed 3 TOs in his quiet game. Rapheal was the only player for Purdue to not commit a turnover.
- Scoring droughts once against plagued the Boilers. One in the 1st half not only caused them to lose their lead, but they were down by as much as 6. Sure, it's not much, but any deficit against Wisconsin can be detrimental, and other and better B1G teams will expose that in future games. Another scoring drought allowed Wisconsin to cut the lead down to 3 within the last 2 minutes of the game, which was previously mentioned. Thankfully, Purdue was able to push through and get the win, but had Wisconsin shot the ball better tonight, they could have easily come out of the game with a huge win.