By Christopher Tufts | Sports Editor
The Boilermakers got off to a flaming hot start this year as they entered Wednesday 4-0, scoring over 100 points in three of those games. Highlighted by a big win over Marquette and a trouncing victory over Chicago State, where the Boilers outscored the Cougars by 69, a record in Mackey Arena. All looked promising for Purdue as they entered ESPN’s Feast Week where the Boilermakers would head to the Bahamas to play in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
The tournament has good competition this year, including second ranked Arizona and fifth ranked Villanova. Although no team is easy to beat in tournament play, the Boilermakers were expected to get past Tennessee and take on Villanova on Thursday. This would have made for an exciting rematch from last year but it was not to be. The Volunteers played a tough game and would not be defeated. As Purdue started to pull away in the 1st half Tennessee shot themselves back into the game. At halftime, the game was tied at 31. In the second half, the Boilermakers looked deflated and the Volunteers were pounding it right down Purdue’s throats. As the game neared its 40th minute, the seesaw battle leaned toward Purdue but the Vols managed to tie it and force overtime. Again, in overtime Purdue took the lead but Tennessee found an easy bucket with only 2 seconds left. In a shocking first round, the Tennessee Volunteers beat the Purdue Boilermakers by a score of 78-75.
Not to be outdone, NC State served Purdue their second loss of the season last night, outscoring them 77-73. In what looked to be a promising tournament and beginning of the year for the Boilermakers, fans now are left on the edge of their seat. These two losses have the potential of knocking Purdue out of the rankings.
It’s important to remember that the season is a marathon not a sprint. Although these losses were especially tough to watch, they are an important learning experience for a team that hopes to make a deep run in March.
Currently, the Boilermakers are 4-2 and sit in the middle of the Big 10 Standings. They play again tonight against second ranked Arizona at 9:30ET. A win would be huge for Purdue but even more important than winning is playing a competitive game for 40 minutes. In these last two games Purdue has lost their swagger. They are playing nervous and not sticking to what they do best, draining threes from all around the arch and getting the ball inside to Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms. I think this will come back if on defense they get some stops and start to rebound on both sides of the ball.
The Boilermakers return to Mackey Arena to take on Louisville in the Big 10/ACC Challenge on Tuesday, November 28th at 7:00ET.