Thursday, January 29, 2015

Boilers ascending

Squint hard enough and you could see the Combover From Hell over there again, bulldog jaw stuck out its usual mile, jacket discarded, mandibles flapping a mile a second as he implored his Purdue Boilermakers to bleed a little more crimson out of all that crimson.

Indiana vs. Purdue: And step aboard the Wayback Machine, boys and girls, because Wednesday night looked a lot like a Wednesday night from 20 or 30 years ago as much as anything.

It looked like, yes, Gene Keady over there stomping around, combover flying. It looked like Mackey Arena, which gets loud like few places get loud, turning the volume up to full eardrum bleed. And it looked like the arch-enemy, Indiana, going down hard to another Purdue team doing it the old-fashioned way: With defense and want-to.

Keady's lament whenever Purdue lost was always "Why wouldn't you want to play hard?" Well, last night, against an Indiana team that five days ago was tied for the Big Ten lead, this Purdue team had a reply: "We do."

And they did. And it was pure throwback IU-Purdue.

The elegantly sharpshooting Hoosiers came in 5-2 in the conference and presumably the better team, and left in sandwich bags, ground down 83-67. They shot 37.9 percent and 4-of-19 from beyond the arc, where they will either live or die this season. With the Purdues relentlessly in their grill, they made just nine baskets in the first 23 minutes of the game, went five-and-a-half minutes without one, and were down 19, at 46-27, before the second half had barely begun.

The rest was formality. The rest was Purdue doing what Purdue has almost always done to IU in Mackey, which is spoil a good thing.

And now it bears mentioning that Matt Painter's guys are 5-3 in the Big Ten themselves, and, like Indiana, have found a way to win. Not surprisingly, it's the way Purdue has always won: With defense, grit, some muscle on the low block and a little help from a lot of friends.

Rapheal Davis, the former South Side Archer, led the way Wednesday with 19 points. Bryson Scott, the former Northrop Bruin had 11 and six rebounds. A.J. Hammons, the occasional disappearing act in the paint, had 11 and eight blocks -- the most blocked shots in a game for a Purdue player since Joe Barry Carroll almost 40 years ago.

Speaking of throwbacks.

And, speaking of same, a prediction: Purdue goes to Bloomington for the return match on Feb. 19. Expect Indiana to pound lumps on the Boilers the way the Boilers pounded lumps on the Hoosiers last night.

Because that, too, is how these two once rolled.

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