Purdue reeling since rout at hands of Indiana
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or email@example.com February 15, 2013 6:38PM
Updated: March 17, 2013 6:48PM
Purdue has lost five of its last seven games, by an average of 20.0 points in those losses.
Beginning with their 97-60 rout at the hands of Indiana on Jan. 30 at Mackey Arena, the worst home loss in program history, the Boilermakers have lost four of their last five, by an average of 21.3.
They say that loss to the Hoosiers didn’t do irreparable damage. But they also acknowledge they haven’t responded in a fantastic fashion, either.
“I’ve been in a lot of games the past four years,” senior swingman D.J. Byrd said. “I’ve been at the top of the league, in the middle of the league and what feels like the bottom of the league right now, and that game should’ve woken our team up collectively to come out and play hard. … It’s one of those things where you just have to keep a good attitude, and through the ups and the downs, you have to keep playing hard, and trying to do what you’re supposed to, because that shows your character. That’s what’s most important.”
Purdue (12-13, 5-7 Big Ten) will get another crack to reveal its character when it plays No. 1 Indiana (22-3, 10-2) on Saturday at Assembly Hall. The Boilermakers have never beaten a top-ranked team on its home court, with two wins overall against such an opponent.
Their latest setback came on Wednesday at Illinois, a game in which they were hammered on the glass, especially with the Illini — one of the conference’s worst rebounding teams — grabbing offensive board after offensive board. Coach Matt Painter got ejected, arguing a non-call against Sandi Marcius — likely the Purdue player who was putting forth the best effort — probably the culmination of not only a trying game, but season.
“We haven’t had consistency, from really anybody, across the board,” said Painter, whose team has suffered all of its conference losses by double digits. “And it’s not about making shots or missing shots. It’s about handling adversity, and being able to battle through things, and just staying the course. And we haven’t had that. At times, we’ve had guys do it in spurts, but we haven’t had that consistent approach.
“As a coach, that’s what you stay with. I’m not saying anything different to them today than I was saying a month ago. You hope your group can have the light come on, and they can realize kind of who they are, and play to their strengths. We spend a lot of time playing to our weaknesses, especially when we get against elite talent.”
Indiana would certainly fall into that category. The Hoosiers, whose only loss in Bloomington this season came to Wisconsin on Jan. 15, dominated in virtually every conceivable way in winning their third straight game against the Boilermakers.
“Their defense is just so much better this year than it was last year,” Painter said. “It allows you to be really good when you’re not making shots. When they’re making shots, they’re a well-oiled machine. They can get you in so many ways. . … They’re very, very difficult to beat, especially at home, or especially on a neutral court.”
In the teams’ first game, A.J. Hammons had a career-high 30 points, to go along with five blocked shots. But the freshman center did a lot of his scoring when the game was way, way out of reach for Purdue.
“When you get beat by 37, I don’t know if anyone can have a big game,” Painter said. “I told him, if he would’ve scored 66 points, we still would’ve got beat. … Looking at that like he accomplished something when we got beat by 37 points is crazy.
“It’s the middle of February. We’ve been going at this for a while. … We’ve had some tough losses. We’ve had the time. They always says, you can learn a lot from a loss, but it only takes one to learn the lesson. We’ve had multiple times when our effort has been questioned.”