WEST LAFAYETTE – Purdue coach Matt Painter kept looking for a combination that would work Saturday against No. 9 Wisconsin.
Frank Kaminsky scored 16 points and Sam Dekker and Traevon Jackson each added 15 as the Badgers ended a three-game losing streak with a 72-58 win over the Boilermakers.
We came out in the second half flat, said Rapheal Davis, an ex-South Side standout. We weren’t ready to play. It’s that simple. We weren’t ready to play in the second half.
The Boilermakers (13-7, 3-4 Big Ten) shot 35.4 percent from the field, had only two players score in double figures and outscored the Badgers only 14-11 in second-chance points despite having twice as many offensive rebounds, 14-7. Terone Johnson and Northrop graduate Bryson Scott each finished with 10 points as Purdue lost its second straight to Wisconsin at Mackey Arena for the first time ever.
But the biggest problem was the disappearing act of 7-foot center A.J. Hammons. Instead of making a big splash, Hammons picked up two fouls in the first 95 seconds, added a third just 28 seconds after going back into the game midway through the first half and didn’t return again until 7 minutes through the second half. He finished with two points and two rebounds.
It really threw things off for us, Johnson said. Lately, we’ve been having success at getting the ball inside to him and then playing from the inside out. We weren’t able to do that because he got those fouls really early. When he came back in the second half, it didn’t really seem like his head was in the game.
Soon, Purdue wasn’t either.
Wisconsin finally got back in the victory column by getting back to basics – a strategy that should make their ailing coach Bo Ryan feel a little better.
We knew what we had to do, Dekker said. We took it into the paint more, shot more free throws. In some of those past games, I don’t think we were being aggressive enough going to the rim. And when you shoot 33 free throws, you know you’re doing something right.
But they almost had to win this one without their coach.
Just hours before the game, Ryan was feeling so sick he warned associate head coach Greg Gard that he may have to take the reins.
Wisconsin’s players said they didn’t find out until Ryan asked someone to bring him a trash can during one of the timeouts. Fortunately, it wasn’t needed.
Ryan didn’t take questions afterward as he tried to recover in the locker room. But Gard made it clear that Wisconsin needed to revert to its old-school formula to pull off its first win in 17 days.
The fashion in which we lost those games is not characteristic to what this program is about, Gard said. We had to get back to some things defensively and part of that was being more efficient offensively.
It’s only the fourth time Wisconsin (17-3, 4-3) has won at Mackey.
For the Boilermakers (13-7, 3-4), it was a bruising result on an emotional day.
School officials called for a moment of silence to honor Andrew Boldt, the Purdue student who was killed Tuesday in a campus shooting, and longtime athletic department official and former assistant basketball coach Tom Reiter, who died Friday night after battling cancer. Both were Wisconsin natives.
The Badgers committed just nine turnovers, matched Purdue rebound for rebound and limited the Boilermakers to 35.4 percent shooting from the field.