Now that my heart has finally stopped beating through my chest I will be able to recap an exciting and gut-wrenching game. I will admit when Hummel went down I had a horrible feeling. That injury looks bad, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is none serious since he was walking around during the second half. When the Gophers went on that 14-0 run to start the second half, I thought the game was over. I knew we came back against Alabama in the second half against a larger deficit, but that was with Hummel. We all know how it turned out, thanks in large part to out senior leadership; Kramer and Grant.
The Gophers were very out-manned before Hummel’s injury because there were just too many scoring options for the zone to cover. But the big guys Iverson and Sampson III kept them close enough to strike the lose nut when Hummel went out. And, strike the nut the Gophers did. They looked like a completely different team when the momentum shifted. Before the injury Purdue was dominating the boards defensively, but something changed for sure because I lost count of how many second chance opportunities the Gophers gave themselves and took advantage of. The zone defense was murder on our offensive rhythm in the second half and kept us off balance. I fear these Gophers though, and I am thanking my lucky stars they didn’t play us like they played Wisconsin because if they had, and us without Hummel, we would have been crushed.
Not all credit can really go to the Gophers defense for our struggles. The offense was understandably out of rhythm with Hummel, and for a good portion of the second half, Barlow missing with injury. Where was Moore in this game? This kid has been our true star for weeks carrying us from the guard position, but tonight he was quiet until the final minutes of the game. His hustle and hounding defense more then made up for it as he was constantly up against Hoff and Westbrook for majority of the game. JJ was our lime light and most obvious choice to carry us when Hummel went down, but with 2 almost 7 footers on him he had a very rough time finding any daylight after the early going. Bade, and I know he is a freshman, just isn’t ready for this stage yet. There were two instances which could have cost us the game in the final 60 seconds which were young mistakes. The first was fighting JJ for the defensive rebound and losing it, and then making the situation worse when he committed the stupid foul when he couldn’t have stopped the shot. Other young mistakes are his too aggressive style of play underneath without control. I know it is extremely rough to just give up on an offensive rebound, but when you are completely blocked out, don’t try and go over the back and pick up a silly foul. This happened twice on back to back possessions sending the Gophers to the line both times for a 1 and 1. However, with everything seemly going wrong this was a true old style Purdue road win. The defensive pressure in the second half was mouth drooling, and kept us in the game just to give us a chance to comeback. My Player of the Night has to be split for both senior guards Chris Kramer and Keaton Grant. Kramer was our heart and soul when Hummel went down: emotionally, defensively, and offensive rhythm. And, who better to have on the ball on the final shot, he was in the head of the shooter even though he got a decent look at it. His defense was no surprise, but when he saw the rest of the team struggling to find an identity on the offense he stepped it up. Speaking of stepping it up, where would Purdue be without Grant these last 3 games….and especially tonight? Not only nailing a tough game winner, but hitting key baskets to keep us close….namely the rainbow three after the Gophers pushed it to a 4 point lead late.
The key is clearly Hummel’s health for the rest of the way. It would be huge to have him back for the Michigan State game this weekend, but it is more important to get him back for the tourney runs. I think Purdue can over come IU and Penn State without Hummel, but it will have to be a HUGE team effort and HEART filled game to beat the Spartans (Being at Mackey will help).
My prayers are with the Boilers and Hummel, and I hope something is known soon. A huge emotional and team lifting win for the Boilers, and let’s get them Sparty’s on Saturday.