Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Purdue plays great but loses

Purdue was beating the #3 ranked team in the country with under 6 minutes to play Tuesday night.

That's how well it played.

But some keys plays, and a blatant missed call was enough for Ohio State to take the lead with 4:30 left and not look back, beating the Boilers 87-84.

With 9:34 left in the second half there was a scramble for a lose ball. It was tipped and chased after by both teams, eventually finding the hands of Ohio State's William Buford, who was then bumped and fouled by Ryne Smith.

Foul assessed to Ryne Smith, right? No.

The refs proceeded to mark the foul on D.J. Byrd, who scored 17 points in the first half (5-5 on threes) and had a career-high 24 points for the game, and send him to the bench for the better part of eight minutes.

That's a pretty pivotal call to miss, sending Purdue's hottest player to the pine.

Ohio State's situation wasn't entirely different, however.

Although they didn't have any players get assigned fouls they didn't commit, they did have their two best players on the bench, Sullinger and Craft, for about the same stretch in the second half.

But what Purdue doesn't have, Ohio State does.

They don't have anyone named Buford, nor anyone near his capabilities. So when Ohio State's stars sat on the bench, they watched another star fill it up and bury the Boilers. Buford scored a career-high 29 points on 10-for-17 from the field.

Purdue didn't go down easy. Kelsey Barlow looked like another player out there on the court. After missing his first two shots badly, he proceeded to go 5-for-10 from the field for 14 points, highlighted by a towering dunk over Ohio State's Sullinger in the first half. Barlow's ability to attack the basket and get to the rim with ease was amazing to see, especially against one of the best defenders in the Big Ten, if not the country in Aaron Craft.

Lewis Jackson and Ryne Smith were both placed on the bench to start the game in an attempt to send a message and change things up. Both played well as Jackson scored 14 points, while Smith chipped in with 9.

It just wasn't enough.

The talent on Ohio State was just too much for Purdue.

There has to be some positives taken out of this game for the Boilers, though. In a game where Purdue was thought to get blown out because of its poor play of late, the Boilermakers came out with an edge and a fire that hasn't been constant this season. Its been there, but its been in spurts. Purdue played its best 40 minutes of the year on Tuesday night. Going forward, even though it was still a loss, this game has to instill some confidence in Purdue that they can string together some games and make the tournament.

It just has to go out and do it.

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