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Consistency a Concern in Boilers 67-62 Loss to Wisconsin


Two of the iconic symbols at Purdue University are a hard hat and hammer.  They represent the blue collar work of Boilermakers.

That type of lunch pail mentality has been represented by the school’s basketball team for years, but this season, there have been games when the Boilers only punch in for a half day.  Thursday was the most recent example.

“For the most part, from the time most of us have been here we’ve been pretty consistent,” said senior forward Robbie Hummel. 

“This year, we’ve had some games where we’ve gotten off to good starts and then played bad in the second half and we’ve had some games when we played poorly in the first half and played a lot better in the second.  So, we really need to start putting together a complete game.”

Purdue fell to Wisconsin, 67-62, four days after a key road win at Minnesota.  It was the first loss for the Boilers in Mackey Arena since February 28th, 2010 ending a 26-game winning streak, which was the fifth longest in the nation.

The Badgers came in losers of three straight and five in a row on Purdue’s home floor.  Wisconsin needed a win and they played like it. They jumped out to an early 18-point lead, highlighted by prolific three-point shooting.

The Badgers connected on five of their first seven threes to pull ahead 22-4 less than six minutes into the game.

“I just think they got too many rhythm shots early and got their heads up and that ended up being the difference in the game” said Purdue head coach Matt Painter. 

Five different Badgers had at least ten points, including Ben Brust who scored a team-high 13 and was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

But, Purdue didn’t lie down.  After the slow start, the Boilers battled back and cut the Wisconsin lead to 12 by halftime.  Painter said he thought his team “was lucky” to be that close.  In the second half, Purdue put themselves in position to win.  They trimmed the deficit to two with over ten minutes to play, but Wisconsin responded with a 9-2 run including a pair of three’s by junior Mike Bruesewitz.

“I thought we played hard (in the second half), made a good effort to try to come back.  But, it’s just hard to come back when you are down that much and to overcome a lead like that,” said Hummel.  “It’s disappointing for sure.”

Hummel was one of two Boilers in double figures.  He scored 13 on 5-of-17 shooting.  Terone Johnson led Purdue with 16-points off the bench.  He also grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists.  He reiterated Hummel’s message and said the goal of the team moving forward has to playing with more consistent effort.

“From the beginning we didn’t come out prepared as far as keeping those guys off the three-point line,” said Johnson.  “With a good team like that it’s hard to make a comeback and then try to get over that hump.”

Purdue did a good job protecting the basketball, turning it over just three times, and forcing Wisconsin into 12-giveaways.  But, as a team, the Boilers shot just 34-percent from the floor and were 12-22 from the free throw line.  The Boilers 54-percent shooting night from the charity stripe is nine-points below the team’s season average.

“If you lose by five points, and miss ten free throws, it’s easy to do the math,” said Hummel.  “That’s a problem.  I don’t know if it’s gotten into everybody’s head, but we need to make them.”

Despite losing their second game in a week and dropping to 13-5 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten, Painter remains confident his team has what it takes to turn the season around.  He said they need to clean up “the little things” such as being more ready to play, being tougher, and rebounding better.

But, he said there is no need to panic.

“I think teams that get into desperation mode never make the (NCAA) tournament.  You have to keep your focus on things that’s you can control.  You can control your effort, you can control your attitude,” he said.  “We have to do a better job finishing.”