We're all adults here, we know how these season recap articles work. You don't need me to explain what this is about; let's just get to it.
After a terrible season in which the Boilers finished dead last in the conference standings, most prognosticators had Purdue finishing tenth or worse in the conference. We had them at eleventh in our hoops preview. Here's what I wrote then:
Hopefully, the infusion of fresh blood, and addition by subtraction will be enough to get Purdue into the tourney this season.
So how did it go? Did Purdue pull together a decent season, or was it more of the same mediocrity?
Act I: Non-Conference Play
Purdue played in the Maui Invitational, where they lost to Kansas State, but picked up a solid OT win against BYU. A win against NC State had fans in a good mood. Then bad things happened. The North Florida Ospreys beat the Boilers in Mackey Arena, as did Gardner-Webb. Throw in a blowout loss to Notre Dame and a loss at Vanderbilt, and the season seemed to already be over.
One of the few good things from the non-con
Act II: Conference Play Part 1
Purdue started out the conference season with a couple of home wins against Michigan and Minnesota, then followed that up with a losses to Wisky and the Turtle Team. At this point, it was looking like it would Purdue might make the NIT if they could get a few wins.
The Boilers next game was at Penn State, who were just starting their freefall after a successful non-con in which they played almost zero decent teams. Purdue was down late, and things were looking bleak. Down three with less than ten seconds left, AJ Hammons tapped a missed free throw over to Kendall Stephens, who ran to the corner and drilled a three. The Boilers won that game in overtime, and that play ended up saving the season.
The shot that saved the season
Act III: Conference Play Part 2 and the Postseason
After a loss at Illinois, Purdue went on a run, the likes of which the Big Ten hasn't seen since the previous season when Nebraska made the tourney after a bad preseason. After a loss at Illinois, Purdue won eight out of its next nine games. Three of those were against ranked teams (at the time at least), and two of them were against hated rival Indiana.
The first of the IU games was a replay of last year's blowout. The second game was closer, but Jon Octeus threw down a massive dunk, AJ Hammons got a technical for being happy after a dunk, and the Boilers pulled it out. Purdue now had the road win that they needed for their tournament resume.
After the big win at Indiana, the Boilers managed to not pick up a bad loss and made it into the tournament. Purdue fans were very happy. Purdue managed to blow a seemingly unblowable lead at the end of their tourney game against Cincy, so they didn't get to get beat by Kentucky. The way that game ended sucked, but it's better to lose a tournament game in horrific fashion than to not make the tournament at all.
Dunk of the year
AJ Hammons announced that he was coming back for his senior season at the Spring Game, which was nice. Everyone else returns other than guards Jon Octeus and Bryson Scott. Octeus was a fifth-year transfer who was one of the main reasons that Purdue was able to make the tournament. Scott is transferring; he was a good athlete and on-ball defender, but he didn't get enough playing time to stick around.
With almost everyone coming back, especially Hammons, the Boilers will have much higher expectations going into next season. The preseason predictions should place the Boilers somewhere in the top half of the conference; I shouldn't have to write about them in a Bottom Tier preview article like I did this season.
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