With the way Wisconsin had been playing recently, I was not surprised that Purdue handed the Badgers their first conference loss today. I was not the only who basically predicted a loss to the Boilermakers.
What I was hoping for was a close game and that is what we saw. Even after playing a below average game, UW was right there in position for a win at the end. Unfortunately, the final chance for Wisconsin was short-circuited by a missed foul by the referees on Michael Flowers on the potentially game-tying final drive.
Watching the game with the sound off, the endless loop of replays proved that Purdue's Robbie Hummel indeed fouled Flowers with the body and slapped nothing but wrist (no ball) on the "shot block." That all makes ESPN's recap headline laughable. But if E'Twaun Moore's wide-open runner didn't inexplicably spin out of the hoop on the other end, UW would not have even been in a position to tie. Plus, the game was at Mackey Arena. End of story.
It was interesting, however, that at the end of the game, I was not sure who I wanted to take the last shot. That's kind of team Wisconsin has, which is kind of a cool problem. I mean, without an MJ, Kobe or Agent Zero on the team, nothing is for certain anyway. So my thought process went like this:
"Well, J-Bo obviously ... wait, he's proved he is not a reliable marksmen, how about Hughes? ... nope, I've seen him force too many shots. He needs to create the open look. So who gets the ball? Butch? He's money ... mmm, suuum-times. It would be too obvious and I don't want this game to end on a traveling violation or a ball rolling off an ankle ... Flowers has done it before, why not again? Or Landry, he's proved he can hit clutch shots. I'm not feeling it today, not two games in a row for Goggles ... I give up, give it to Butch, he needs a game-winner for his resume."Everyone on the floor a legitimate threat; not comfortable with anyone. If you cannot enter that conversation (ahem, Dakota Joe), you are not the team's most valuable player. Ideally I'd want Hughes driving to create a dump off to Landry or an open look for Bohannon or Flowers. I was fine with Flowers taking it and he had the step. It just wasn't his day.
-Butch was a beast again today, notching 20 points and 13 rebounds to lead the team in both categories. [box score]
-Flowers and Landry had very rough days offensively, but it was Hughes who disappeared with only two points in the second half. I'll say it one more time: as the backcourt of Hughes and Flowers goes, so goes this team.
-Two assists Pop? Really? It's unreal that this guy is not averaging 5 dimes per game, with his talent, quickness and passing ability. Unacceptable really. I know, I know ... patience ...
-Greg Stiemsma had it rougher than anyone. Off a solid performance versus Michigan, the Steamboat left me with nothing but a gluttony of missed opportunities.
-Finally, Purdue is young. Yada, yada, yada ... they can shoot and they'll be in the upper crust of the league for years to come. Get used to it. With the win, Purdue tied Wisconsin for second place in the Big Ten at 6-1. I will be attending the rematch at the Herb Garden on Feb. 9, making noise in the student section.
-Losses are a little more bearable with Bo Ryan as your coach. I just had to add Bo's post-quote in reference to the Purdue fans rushing the court after beating Wisconsin:
"We've lost four (Big Ten) games in two years and they stormed the court all four times. I thought people threw some loose money out on the court. I was looking for some fives. I wasn't going to dive into the students for 1s. I was looking for fives and 10s.''