Sunday, February 25, 2007

One Step Closer

Purdue edged one step closer to an NCAA Tournament berth by earning their second road win of the season Saturday at Northwestern. The Boilers topped the Wildcats and Tim Doyle's hair 75-68 in Welsh-Ryan Arena behind another strong outing from David Teague. Teague had 26 points in the win, and reserve Chris Lutz chipped in with 15 points going 4-7 from three. Purdue struggled with Northwestern's tricky zone defense, until they broke it open with a 22-6 run that put them up 19 with 7 minutes to go.

Up next for Purdue are games are against 2 of the 3 worst teams in the Big Ten in RPI #177 Minnesota and RPI #167 Northwestern. With Painter's Boilers hungry for the postseason, one would think there's no way Purdue can drop either of these games at Mackey Arena where they are 14-1 this season.

Working in their favor are some strong non-conference wins and some convincing wins against other middle-of-the-pack Big Ten teams. In the non-conference, Purdue knocked off RPI #60 DePaul, #38 Virginia, and #75 Missouri. In league play, Purdue throttled RPI #21 Michigan State by 24, #23 Indiana by 13, #31 Illinois by 17, and #54 Michigan by 14. At this point it would seem the Boilers are guaranteed a tournament bid if they can close out the season with 2 wins to finish at 20-10 (9-7).

In other conference action today, Ohio State knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers 49-48 to claim their second Big Ten regular season title in a row.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Catching Up With -- Melvin Buckley

Does that name ring a bell? It should. Melvin Buckley made a splash at Purdue as a freshman by scoring 20 points in Purdue's first round NCAA tournament victory over LSU in 2003. As a freshman, he led Purdue in three point field goal percentage by hitting 42.6% of his shots. Having Buckley as a deep threat to compliment David Teague gave Purdue a lethal combination on offense.

As a sophomore, Buckley's playing time and scoring opportunities increased, but it wasn't up to his standards. In a puzzling move he left Purdue after his sophomore season, taking his shots at the program on the way out the door. Had he stayed in West Lafayette, he would have been in prime position to crack the starting lineup for his final two seasons. He claimed he "was going to the ACC, where he could get more love."

Buckley didn't quite make it to the ACC. He opted for the South Florida Bulls, doormat of the new Big East. How is Buckley doing in the sunshine state? After going 1-15 in the Big East last year, the Bulls are 12-14 (3-9 in the Big East) and have lost to the likes of Richmond, TAMU CC, Missouri State, & Mike Davis' UAB Blazers. But most importantly to Melvin, he can shoot lots of 3's and not have to worry about defense. He is averaging 38.5 mpg and 15.5 ppg, and is on pace to finish #2 all-time for three point field goals made at USF.

When recently asked about his career at USF, Buckley replied, "When I came here three years ago, I wanted to be able to say I helped turn the program around and built the foundation for a powerhouse." Way to go Melvin.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's Payback Time

Matt Painter and his Boilers will certainly be looking for some revenge tomorrow night when they host their rivals to the south. Couple that with the fact that Purdue absolutely needs this game to get an invite to the big dance, and you have all the makings of a heated rivalry game.

When Purdue was blown out at Assembly Hall earlier this season, IU guard Earl Calloway gave Coach Painter some trash talk after burying a three. Much was made about this, and the fact that Sampson did nothing to discipline his player. As much as Painter says its not a big deal, by the looks of the following David Teague quote, it certainly is.
"Calloway was a little disrespectful down there in Bloomington, and we haven't forgotten about that," said Teague, when asked if he hopes the Purdue student section picks up on it. "All you can do is take it out on the court and try to prove who the best team is and who has the most character and the most class. Trash talk among players, that's part of the game. Sometimes, it's even fun. But when you cross the line and talk trash to a coach, there's no reason for that and no place for that, no matter what the situation is. It's the ultimate sign of disrespect."
Purdue HAS to get to 20 regular season wins if they hope to make the NCAA tournament. They would get there by winning at Northwestern and holding serve at home against IU, Northwestern, & Minnesota. That would put the Boilers at 20-10 (9-7) and in prime position for a dance ticket. The first step is to get some revenge against the hated Hoosiers and their dirty coach tomorrow night at Mackey, as Landry certainly doesn't want to go winless against the Hoosiers for his career.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

So Close

Purdue followed up their impressive home thrashing of Michigan State with a valiant effort on the road in nearly upsetting the #3 Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus. In a game where Purdue wasn't given much of a chance as 12 point underdogs, the Boilers gave Ohio State all they could handle and then some.

At one point late in the second half, Purdue actually led and looked to be on their way to what would have been the biggest upset in college basketball thus far this season. With just under 8 minutes to play, a David Teague three pointer capped a 8-0 run and put the Boilers up 51-46. From there, it was all downhill for the Boilers. After being benched due to foul trouble, Greg Oden came back into the game and sparked a 17-5 run that put the game away. Teague led the Boilers with 17 points and Landry chipped in with 13 points and 9 rebounds, but it was Tarrance Crump who was the player of the game for the Boilers. Crump did an amazing job creating his own shots late in the second half scoring several key baskets that kept the Boilers in the game.

This road loss is certainly a moral victory for Matt Painter's Boilers. They have come a long way since getting blown out in Terre Haute earlier this season, at a time when it looked as though Purdue would never be competitive on the road. Since then, they have gotten that elusive Big Ten road victory and also played #2 Wisconsin and #3 Ohio State very tough on their home floors. Purdue now sits at 16-9 (5-6 in the Big Ten), and still has plenty of opportunities left to reach their goal of 20 wins. Purdue's RPI is currently at #38, good for 4th in the Big Ten. Up next for Purdue is Indiana on Wednesday night at Mackey Arena, a game in which the Boilers are no doubt looking for some sweet revenge.

Purdue Finally Wins Road Game

Purdue beat Penn State today at University Park to end its road losing streak of 29 games. The 69-59 win over the Lions in front of an announced crowd of 9,151 (can you say neutral site?) in the Bryce Jordan Center marked the Boilermakers' first road win since Feb. 21, 2004, when Gene Keady's Boilermakers beat Minnesota 65-47 in Williams Arena. Melvin Buckley was the leading scorer in that game, remember him?

After being up only 5 at half, the Boilers broke it open in the second half behind stellar play from Carl Landry and a stifling defense. Despite his muscles, tattoos, and chest pounding, Jemalle Cornley (2005 Big Ten freshman of the year) couldn't do a damn thing on defense to slow Landry, who finished with 26 points. The play of the game came with Purdue up only 6 with 5 minutes to go in the second half. As the Lions were looking to cut it to a 4 point game, Chris Kramer had other ides as he stole the ball and was fouled intentionally on the other end. A nice 6 point swing.

This win not only gets the road win monkey off Purdue's back, but also bolsters its NCAA tournament resume. Anytime you can get a conference win on the road, it will certainly help your case come March. Speaking of NCAA tournament resumes, Purdue's non conference wins are starting to look more and more impressive as the season wears on. Virginia upset Duke this week and now sits at the top of the ACC at 6-2.