WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - In order to create a successful recipe, all the ingredients need to be included or the end result is off. For a basketball team contending for a conference championship, sound defense, taking care of the basketball and taking smart shots are all necessary factors that contribute to the team’s success.
With Wisconsin trying to exercise some Mackey Arena demons, the Badgers not only forgot the recipe, they simply struggled to find the kitchen.
The Badgers shot ice cold from the floor during the first half and watched helplessly as Purdue sophomore JaJuan Johnson scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, as the Badgers dug a big hole they never could recover from, falling to No.14 Purdue 65-52 Sunday afternoon.
With the status of Big Ten preseason player of the year Robbie Hummel and starting point guard Chris Kramer questionable after missing Tuesday’s game at Penn State, Purdue looked to be in an offensive crunch.
Although both Hummel and Kramer logged minutes, it was Johnson that carried the burden, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the game’s first 15 minutes.
After scoring only 14 points in UW’s two matchups with Purdue last season and averaging 5.4 points per game last season, Johnson is averaging 12.7 points per game and another weapon in Purdue’s arsenal.
“By far, he (Johnson) is the most improved player on that team,” said senior Marcus Landry, as the Badgers fall to 2-37 all time in Mackey Arena. “He’s just an athletic big man and he’s come along way and has gotten a lot better.”
With Purdue (12-4, 1-2 Big Ten) getting nine offensive rebounds in the first half, Johnson set the tone from the game’s opening minutes, scoring the Boilers first six points, four coming off offensive rebounds, to help Purdue build a 14-point first-half advantage that they never lost.
“I just tried to be aggressive (and) crash the boards every time,” said Johnson, who at one point was out scoring UW 14-11. “After the Penn State game, I had the mindset that I needed to help the team out in rebounding. I wasn’t too happy about the Penn State game that I just tried to (get) to the boards.”
While the Badgers (12-4, 3-1 Big Ten) missed their share of easy lay ups and wide-open jump shots, Wisconsin was uncharacteristic in its shot selection, hoisting a plethora of hasty shots, usually with a defender in the face, that proved to be unproductive. So while Purdue shot 53 percent (9-for-17) during a 10 minute stretch midway through the first half, Wisconsin couldn’t counter.
The Badgers started the game shooting 22 percent (4-for-18) and made one field goal during an eight-minute stretch of the Boilers run.
Joe Krabbenhoft led UW with 13 points, the lone player in double figures for the Badgers, and watched their top two scoring threats (Landry and Trevon Hughes) go a combined 6-for-26 from the field.
The game was especially tough for Landry, who lead the team with 17 points per game during conference play entering Sunday. Never finding any semblance of rhythm and hazed all afternoon by the students, Landry finished a dismal 3-for-15 from the field and only nine points.
“They are very aggressive and took us out of some of the things we like to do. They were just more aggressive. It just wasn’t a good day for Wisconsin today and we only have ourselves to blame for not being physical enough.”
The Badgers did start to show signs of life in the final 1:36 of the first half, executing an 8-0 run, capped by a Jason Bohannon three-pointer with six seconds left, to cut the lead down to six, giving the Badgers some reason to hope.
The Badgers kept the game a two-point possession, 38-32 for the first five minutes of the half, but had not answer during a 16-6 run, a run where five different Purdue players scored.
“We probably needed a 20-0 run,” UW head coach Bo Ryan said. “That would have been better.”
After UW showed its last sign of life, using a mini-run to cut the lead to 11 at the last media timeout, the Purdue pep band fittingly played Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a Prayer.’ Less than a minute later, Hummel hit his fourth three to deliver the knockout blow.
“They were hitting shots, that’s why they (Purdue) are going to be there at the end of the year,” Krabbenhoft said. “You can’t just shut down one team because they have so many weapons. You have to do so many good things defensively.”
Wisconsin was out muscled on the glass, getting out rebounded 34-29 and didn’t attempt its first free throw until 4:23 left in the second half.
“We’ve talked a lot over the last couple of years and what it means to Wisconsin basketball to rebound and they beat us on the board,” Krabbenhoft said. “It’s pretty plain and simple that they out worked us on the boards.”
Purdue committed only four turnovers (just one in the first half), which was one away from tying the school record.
“When you take care of the basketball and out rebound your opponent, you are just giving yourself a better chance to win,” Kramer said. “That’s just more possessions in the game you get than your opponent does.”
A Purdue recipe that equaled success against Wisconsin.