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Purdue stuns Badgers in battle for Big Ten lead

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Aaron Brenner/Special to the Gazette
February 9, 2008
— It was Purdue freshman forward Robbie Hummel’s defense that doomed the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team the last time the two teams met.

Saturday, in a much more shocking Boilermaker victory, Hummel’s offense did the deed.


Hummel’s 21 points spearheaded a fantastic shooting attack for Purdue, which barely hung on for one of its biggest wins in recent program history—a 72-67 victory in front of 17,190 stunned Kohl Center faithful.


“This is a huge win for our program,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said after his team grabbed the undisputed Big Ten lead. “To be able to get this win after getting rebounded the way we did is unbelievable. Our guys were focused tonight and made the plays necessary to win the game.”


It was the Boilermakers (19-5, 10-1 Big Ten) who snapped No. 8 Wisconsin’s 10-game winning streak on Jan. 26 with a 60-56 triumph in West Lafayette, Ind.. Hummel blocked UW guard Michael Flowers’ short jumper that would have tied the game with two seconds to go.


But that was in Purdue’s Mackey Arena, where the Badgers (19-4, 9-2) have won just once in the last 35 years. In the rematch at the Kohl Center—where the Badgers had been 51-2 in conference games under coach Bo Ryan—the young Boilermakers were more energetic from the start, running out to a 25-12 lead by scoring on 11 of their first 16 possessions.


Purdue had not won in Madison since 1997, one year before the Badgers began playing at the Kohl Center.


Wisconsin entered Saturday’s game with the stingiest defense in Division I college basketball, giving up just 54.1 points per game. But the Boilermakers, who also got contributions from sophomore guard Chris Kramer (12 points) and freshman guard E’Twaun Moore (11 points), far surpassed that.


“They understand about making the extra pass, about playing team basketball,” Painter said. “And they don’t get rattled … I think we just have good poise as a team.”


Essentially, Purdue stirred up a perfect storm in the first half. While the Badgers struggled to find a rhythm, the Boilermakers shot the lights out, shooting 65 percent, including 6-of-10 makes from three-point territory.


Flowers was the only Badger who wasn’t flat-footed in the first half. Before the break, he co-led UW with eight points (along with Marcus Landry, who only played 10 minutes because of foul trouble), and dished out three assists while grabbing two steals.


But Flowers wasn’t careful with the ball, turning it over twice in the first 20 minutes. He wasn’t alone, though. Wisconsin committed 10 turnovers in the first half, and six in the first eight minutes, while the Boilermakers built up a 13-point lead.


Flowers directed a 10-1 run that cut the lead to four, but back-to-back basket by Hummel and Moore kept the Badgers from catching up.


In the second half, Purdue’s young team got swallowed up a bit by the raucous Kohl Center crowd, which got loud every time Wisconsin drew within two possessions of the visitors. But the Boilermakers did not break, finishing with a 53-percent clip from the floor.


The Badgers, meanwhile, simply had a cold night—32 percent overall on field-goal attempts (16 percent from three-point range). They also had a terrible assist-to-turnover ratio with nine helpers against 18 giveaways.


Wisconsin was terrific in two aspects. The Badgers hit all 15 free-throw attempts in the first half and connected on their first 20 before junior forward Joe Krabbenhoft missed the back end of a one-and-one with 9:49 remaining. Wisconsin ended up going 30-of-33 from the line.


Further, the Badgers simply dominated the Boilermakers on the glass, with a 42-21 advantage.


But those small victories will be of little solace to the Badgers, who also have little time to sulk about the shocking upset. Wisconsin heads to No. 13 Indiana on Wednesday, facing a Hoosiers team that is 19-3 and 8-1 in the conference.



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