Osipoff: Purdue looks to bounce back again
By Michael Osipoff firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3137 December 19, 2011 11:10PM
Western Carolina guard Harouna Mutombo, left, shoots under pressure from Purdue forward Robbie Hummel in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in West Lafayette, Ind., Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011. Purdue defeated Western Carolina 65-60. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: January 21, 2012 8:16AM
Instead of responding with a vengeance, after squandering a 19-point lead with less than 11 minutes left in a loss at Xavier, Purdue played arguably its worst half of the season against Western Carolina.
The Boilermakers trailed 29-21 at halftime, before rallying for a closer-than-anticipated 65-60 win.
After frittering away their Crossroads Classic game against Butler on Saturday, they will try to avoid a repeat performance as far as suffering from a potential hangover.
In its final nonconference game of the regular season, Purdue (9-3) meets IPFW (7-3) on Tuesday night at Mackey Arena, before heading into the Christmas break.
“We’re really going to see the maturity of this team, or lack thereof, because we really showed an immaturity in how we played in that first half after that Xavier loss,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said on Monday.
“We have to do a better job of regrouping after a loss. ... This will be a true test for us.”
In Puerto Rico, Purdue pulled out a one-point win against Iona, and pulled away for one against Temple. At Mackey, the Boilermakers escaped against High Point, and held off Western Carolina.
So it’s not as if this group hasn’t shown at least some ability to close out games.
But, oh, those lost leads.
“I’m eager to see how we respond from losing such another devastating game, a game where we had a lead and were in control, and just kind of let things slip away,” senior forward Robbie Hummel said.
“We can only have so many games where we keep saying, hey, we need to learn from this. Eventually, you have to learn from it, you have to do things the right way and start winning some games.”
The Mastodons have won five straight games, including a victory against Valparaiso. Two of their losses have come on the road to Xavier and Iowa.
Junior guard Frank Gaines averages 21.4 points and 5.4 rebounds, and 6-foot-10 senior forward Trey McCorkle averages 15.0 and 7.5.
Tony Jasick is in his first season as IPFW’s coach, after six seasons on the staff, including four as associate head coach. He took over for Dane Fife, who left to become an assistant at Michigan State, after he nearly landed on Purdue’s staff.
The Boilermakers are 4-0 all-time against the Mastodons, with all four games coming at Mackey since 2003.
They will try to improve to 3-0 after losses this season.
“We just have to do a better job at finishing,” Painter said. “You can sit there and overanalyze it.
“You just have to be positive with them and keep working on things, and pray that you get that opportunity again as a player.”
Though he described the game against Butler as “Groundhog’s Day” in relation to the game against Xavier, Painter noted differences between the two. He called the game against the Musketeers a “debacle,” adding, “Everything you could do wrong, we did.”
That wasn’t necessarily the case against the Bulldogs.
The Boilermakers missed some good shots, if Butler occasionally baited certain guys into taking them.
Ryne Smith and Jacob Lawson each had a layup blocked in the last three minutes. Lewis Jackson went 1-of-3 from the foul line in the last half-minute. Jackson and Hummel misfired on jumpers they typically would make.
But Painter also said the Boilermakers had players not going to the right spots and not executing particular sets.
“That’s frustrating, especially from experienced players when they’re not concentrating late in the game, and not getting where they’re supposed to be,” he said. “But for the most part, I liked what we were doing.
“It’s been a little disturbing, because we have experienced players in those positions, handling the ball. We just have to do a better job of making plays. Defensively, we have to do a better job of following our scouting report, following our game plan. We have too many guys playing for us that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing on the defensive end. It’s not, they’re doing what we’re asking them to do and just not getting the job done; they’re literally not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. When you have experienced guys doing that, that’s just simply a lack of concentration and a lack of mental toughness.”
Still, the Boilermakers realize how close they are to being 11-1.
“We’re two possessions away — we beat Xavier, we beat Butler, we would be a Top 15 team,” Jackson said. “But maybe for this group of guys, especially us having young guys, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise so guys stay hungry and we understand how we have to close out games once we get into the Big Ten season.”