Purdue Basketball 2011
Purdue Boilermakers vs Wisconsin Badgers Basketball Recap
Purdue 70, Wisconsin 62
Mike Krzyzewski is the best coach in all of college basketball – no one would doubt that.
Tom Izzo is the second-best coach in college basketball – few would doubt that.
Who’s the third-best coach in all the land? That’s a point of debate. Matt Painter could very well be the answer to that difficult question. It would definitely be hard to argue too much with that response after a spirited Wednesday evening at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The Purdue Boilermakers, guided from the bench by Painter, found a forceful finishing kick to turn back the Wisconsin Badgers in a battle of the two teams that still have an outside chance at catching league leader Ohio State. The Boilers and Badgers entered this game tied for second in the conference at 9-3, two games behind the big, bad Buckeyes. By capturing this contest, Purdue gained the leverage that Wisconsin so deeply craved. The Boilermakers also gained a leg up in the race for a particularly high NCAA Tournament seed, a three-seed at worst and a two-seed at best. There was a lot riding on this roundball rendezvous, and when push came to shove at Mackey, Purdue – freed from the clutches of the Kohl Center, Wisconsin’s nearly indomitable home building – found the resources needed to get the job done.
This was a brutally physical game between these ever-familiar rivals who employ similar styles of play. While Illinois is finesse-oriented, Northwestern runs a Princeton-style offense, and John Beilein at Michigan goes to the 1-3-1 zone, Wisconsin and Purdue embrace straightforward, no-frills basketball found in rugged man-to-man defense and endless combinations of screens and cuts. The two schools met in the 2000 Elite Eight (the Albuquerque Regional Final), and while this game wasn’t nearly as significant as that clash in New Mexico 11 years ago, it was still quite the affair on the Purdue campus. It figured to be won by the team whose stars shone a little brighter, and that team proved to be the Boilers.
Wisconsin erased most of a 12-point deficit to cut Purdue’s advantage to 58-56 with just over two minutes left. That’s when Purdue guard E’Twaun Moore answered the call. A drifting right-handed floater gave the Boilers a four-point cushion, and after the game’s MVP, center JaJuan Johnson, denied Wisconsin at the other end of the floor, Moore knocked down a dagger of a three-pointer from the right wing to make the score 63-56 in favor of Purdue with time bleeding off the clock. The Badgers never made another credible rally, and Matt Painter had outfoxed UW coach Bo Ryan in the Big Ten’s battle for second place.
The star of the game, as mentioned above, was Johnson, even though Moore scored the two biggest baskets of the evening. Johnson’s 20 points were a footnote to his performance; the star center pulled down 10 rebounds while blocking four shots and influencing several other Wisconsin shots near the rim. Without Johnson’s length on defense, the Badgers would have scored on a number of extra trips. There was and is no way to measure the full value Johnson delivered to Purdue on Wednesday.
As a result, it’s hard to say that Purdue’s stay in the NCAA Tournament will be limited as well. Even without Robbie Hummel, this team could play well into March… maybe even April. That’s a testament to Matt Painter’s coaching ability, is it not?
> Find more Big Ten football news online at Big Ten Fans!