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January 28, 2012Post-game audio: Coach Matt Painter | Terone Johnson | Lewis Jackson | Robbie Hummel
EVANSTON, Ill. - At this point for Robbie Hummel, it doesn't matter what the shot looks like if it goes in.
The ugly one was the best on Saturday.
With 8.1 seconds remaining, Hummel stumbled while driving baseline but still got off a one-handed floater that swished, helping spur Purdue to a 58-56 victory at Northwestern.
When Wildcats senior John Shurna missed a 30-foot three-pointer at the buzzer, Purdue (15-7, 5-4 Big Ten) had snapped a two-game losing streak.
"It was a game that we had to have - it was that important," said Hummel, who had 11 points and three rebounds in 35 minutes.
Hummel was happy to play a pivotal part.
Only four days ago, he had a chance to lift the Boilermakers (15-7, 5-4 Big Ten) past No. 20 Michigan but missed a three-pointer in the last 10 seconds, and Purdue lost.
But he made good on a second chance.
After Reggie Hearn scored on a layup to tie the game at 56, Purdue called a timeout with 39 seconds left.
Coach Matt Painter actually spent most of the time drawing up a play against Northwestern's man defense.
Instead, the Wildcats came out in their 1-3-1 zone, a defense that had given the Boilermakers' problems in the game.
But it didn't matter.
Lewis Jackson broke down the defense and found Hummel open in the corner. Hummel didn't take the three, though, and got enough space to go around his defender baseline and get the awkward-looking shot off.
Hummel said he knew when the shot left his hand, it was going in. That's not been the case much this season, especially lately.
In his previous four games, Hummel made only 16 of 56 shots, including an 0-for-11 game against Michigan State. He made only 1 of 5 shots to start the game against the Wildcats.
"It's been frustrating," he said. "I've missed shots that I normally make so consistently, pull-ups or threes or whatever. Everyone has been very positive and has been telling me to keep shooting. Guys have confidence in me. That's helped a lot because if that wasn't the case, it'd definitely be hard to keep shooting when you're not making very many.
"It's been tough, but this one feels good."
But this victory wasn't all about Hummel.
Terone Johnson, starting his second consecutive game for Kelsey Barlow, scored a team-high 14 points and had a big basket with 2:14 to play to give Purdue a four-point lead.
D.J. Byrd had 12 points and four rebounds.
And, most importantly, Purdue showed some of its trademark fire on defense late.
With Purdue leading 48-47, Jackson stepped in front of Drew Crawford barreling in on a baseline drive to take a charge.
On the other end, Jackson dished to D.J. Byrd for a three-pointer.
After free throws for Northwestern, Jackson drove and kicked to the corner to Hummel for three, pushing the lead to 54-49.
On Northwestern's next play, Hummel took a charge on Shurna. Johnson missed two free throws to come up empty on Purdue's ensuing possession.
After Shurna made a three to pull within 54-52 and got the ball back with a chance to take the lead or tie with about three minutes to play, Byrd raced into the passing lane to tip a ball and then rushed down the court to try to tie up Reggie Hearn. Instead, Hearn was called for a double dribble, giving the ball back to Purdue.
Johnson converted the turnover into points when he made a floater in the lane. Purdue had 21 points off turnovers.
"It just showed we buckled down when we needed to," Jackson said. "I think those three (two charges, Byrd's play) were the defining moments, when guys just really buckled down and gave it up for the team.
"I think that's Purdue basketball right there. You're known for the past few years that we take charges, we get those defensive stops. It was good because the Michigan game we couldn't get any at the end and we let them score. They kept it close, but we got stops that didn't allow them to get ahead when they were shooting the ball well."
On the game's final play, Jackson jammed the ball and Purdue switched on screens, not allowing Northwestern to get to the basket. Ultimately, Shurna had to let launch the desperation three-pointer when Hummel guarding him.
When it didn't hit rim, Purdue celebrated.
Now, the Boilermakers get a week off until playing Indiana in Mackey Arena.
"(We) had to (have this)," Jackson said. "This is when teams separate. You start hearing fans wondering, 'Is this team not good enough?' Because we're .500 (in league play). Now we come out here and get a great road win - it's tough to win here - so you carry that momentum into the next game and hopefully get our engines going."
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