In 49 states it's just basketball, but in Indiana and at the Crossroads Classic it means a little something more. It means bragging rights against in-state rivals and more importantly an opportunity to define a team's early season.
More often than not, this tournament has been a disappointment for Purdue's men's basketball team which came in with a 2-6 record all-time in the event. That trend continued Saturday, as Purdue lost 70-61 to the 17th-ranked Butler Bulldogs at Indianapolis' Banker's Life Fieldhouse.
Both Purdue's and Butler's seasons have been defined by their defenses. Both teams came into this game allowing around 55 points per contest. It was the Bulldog defense that won out, essentially shutting down Matt Painter's squad for most of the game, and holding the Boilermakers to 21 percent accuracy from the field in the first half. Only three Boilers scored in the double digits, and none had until an Aaron Wheeler three-pointer late in the second half.
The offensive struggles were most evident with Purdue's leading scorer Jahaad Proctor. Proctor went just 2-of-13 from the field, tallying nine points. Trevion Williams had trouble with the Butler bigs as he hit five of his 14 shots, finishing with a team high 12.
Purdue came in having out-rebounded every opponent this season, but the team was regularly out-hustled -- and thus lost the rebound battle to the Bulldogs. Some of that can be attributed to the loss of starting Center Matt Haarms, who sat out his second straight game thanks to a concussion sustained against Nebraska.
Butler used a run to begin the second half and stretched its lead to as much as 17 points during that time. Purdue was able to cut that lead to four in the game's closing minutes, with help from Butler's poor free throw shooting. That didn't last however, as the Bulldogs hit their last 11 straight to cruise to victory.
Purdue (7-5) returns home to play its last nonconfrence game of the season against Central Michigan on Saturday the 28th before diving into confrence play against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.