Saturday, March 21, 2009
Nothing normal in Boilermakers' win
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Purdue looked slick in the first half, outrunning and outgunning flashy Washington, but when the Boilermakers cooled from the field, they turned to their reservoir of Big Ten grit to hold on for a 76-74 win, earning a berth in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000.
Purdue, which will play Connecticut next in Glendale, Ariz., never trailed and led by double-digits most of the game.
Washington made its move in the second half behind the inside-outside combination of Jon Brockman and Isaiah Thomas, who combined for 31 points after the break.
Brockman, who recorded the 60th and final double-double of his career -- he finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds -- cut the gap to 73-71 on a layup with 1:36 remaining.
Then both teams missed consecutive shots on each end. That left it to free throw shooting, and the Boilermakers hit three of four to ice things.
Sophomore center JaJuan Johnson led Purdue with 22 points, but it seemed like he scored more than that because he seemed to be at the nexus of every big moment in the game.
He tipped a short jumper in the lane from Quincy Pondexter that could have tied the game at the one-minute mark. His dunk just before the halftime buzzer gave the Boilermakers a 39-28 lead -- not to mention momentum -- heading into the locker room.
And when the Boilermakers missed eight shots in a row over a nearly three-minute span in the second half, when their lead shrank from 11 to two points, his dunk with 7:11 left ended the bleeding.
The game was played at a frenetic pace that would seem to have favored high-scoring Washington. But little in this one conformed to preconceptions.
For one, defensive-minded Purdue won for just the second time in nine games this season when it surrendered more than 65 points.
Second, Purdue entered the game with a negative rebounding margin, while the Huskies, at plus-8.4, ranked fourth in the nation. But the Boilermakers won the battle of the boards decisively in the first half, when they built their lead, and the final tally was even at 34.