KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the first 14 minutes of Thursday’s Midwest regional semifinal in Kansas City, Purdue was giving top-seeded Kansas all it could handle.
The Boilermakers had an eight-point lead early in the game, but it quickly disappeared. The Jayhawks went on a 17-three run to lead by seven at halftime. Then they ran away with it in the second half, handing the Boilers a 32-point blow-out loss.
“We had a hell of a fight to us in the first half,” said Purdue center Isaac Haas. “We were down by seven and just had some small mistakes, but then we allowed those mistakes to compound one another and then we let it overwhelm us. They got on a hot run and it just turned into something we didn’t want it to be.”
“When you don’t care of the ball, you get turnovers and they make you pay,” forward Vince Edwards said. “You don’t box out, they get offensive rebounds and kick it out for a three and make you pay. It’s just what good teams do and that’s what they did.”
“Getting offensive rebounds is tough,” said guard P.J. Thompson. “People say we’re bigger, so we’re suppose to out-rebound them, but they shot a lot of three’s and there was a lot of long rebounds. Our guards were supposed to clean that up, but it was a lot of tough bounces.”
It was a bitter end for the Boilermakers and that’s what makes the NCAA Tournament so exciting. One loss and it’s all over.
“It happens in basketball some times,” forward Caleb Swanigan said. “You see a lot of blow-outs at every level where one team just gets really hot one game. That’s why the NBA uses that seven-game format, because everybody knows that basketball can turn against you. Everything can go against you or everything can go for you on any given night.”
So after 27 wins and an outright Big Ten regular season title, Purdue turns its attention to next season.
The big question: will Swanigan stay in school or leave early for the NBA? He said there’s no timetable for a decision.