Feb. 9, 2008
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Freshman Robbie Hummel grinned at the thought of Purdue being all alone on top the Big Ten standings on Sunday.
"It'll be a great feeling, but practice starts at 2, and we'll be there," Hummel said. "We'll enjoy it until then."
The lanky 6-foot-8 freshman scored a career-best 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and No. 24 Purdue upset No. 8 Wisconsin 72-67 on Saturday night to extend the Boilermakers' winning streak to nine.
But it doesn't get any easier as Purdue (19-5, 10-1) hosts No. 11 Michigan State on Tuesday, with a chance to avenge its only conference loss this season.
Hummel scoffed when asked if Purdue was now the team to beat.
"No, I don't think so," Hummel said. "I don't think that we've been all over national magazines and stuff, and that's fine with us. We don't care."
Purdue, picked to finish in the lower half of the Big Ten, is now a legitimate title contender, something Painter believed all along, even if he wasn't saying it earlier in the season.
"(When) they pick you eighth or ninth in the league, it's tough to publicly talk about winning a championship. It really is," Painter said.
Off to its best start in the conference in 20 years, Purdue now controls its fate in the Big Ten in an effort to win its first regular season title since 1996, and Painter believed in them even after some bad losses in nonconference play.
"Everybody still talks about us as the Baby Boilers," said Chris Kramer, who finished with 12 points. "I think we use that as motivation, that we have something to prove still. We're still not getting any credit for the stuff we've accomplished."
Purdue last beat a team ranked in the Top 10 on the road on March 1, 1998, at then-No. 10 Michigan State and had last beaten the Badgers (19-4, 9-2) in Madison on Feb. 7, 1996, when Hummel was 6 years old.
But these Boilermakers, led by a pair of unflappable freshmen in Hummel and E'Twaun Moore, who added 11 points, were unfazed and became just the second Big Ten team after Illinois to win at the Kohl Center.
The win ended the Badgers' 16-game home conference winning streak and cut into their aura of invincibility at home under coach Bo Ryan. Wisconsin also lost to Purdue on Jan. 26 when Hummel blocked a shot in the closing seconds of a 60-56 win.
"That was probably one of the best feelings I've ever had as a defender," Hummel said. "Tonight was a team win."
Wisconsin got 14 points a piece from Jason Bohannon and Michael Flowers, 12 from Joe Krabbenhoft and 10 from Brian Butch. But the Badgers' offense failed at the worst times despite a furious comeback from 15 points down in the second half.
Bohannon hit two free throws to make it 68-65 with 1:22 to play as Moore fouled out. But on the next possession, Trevon Hughes lost the ball and it squirted to Purdue's Keaton Grant, who dunked it to give the Boilermakers a 71-65 lead with 57 seconds left.
The Badgers got a lay-up from Bohannon to make it 71-67, but missed their final three shots to fall to 51-3 against Big Ten opponents in Ryan's era and 104-7 overall. Wisconsin committed 18 turnovers, including Hughes' costly one late.
"That wasn't the only one. There's a lot of lessons. There's 18 lessons in there. Not just him. A player trying to make a play. He's done that a few times," Ryan said. "What are you going to do? When he splits it and makes a play and something positive happens, you clap. When he doesn't, I don't go in there and blame somebody."
Already up 42-32 at the half after shredding the nation's best scoring defense by shooting 64 percent in the first half and 53 percent for the game, Purdue's freshmen came out strong. Hummel opened the second half with two 3-pointers to give Purdue a 48-34 lead.
Moore added a basket of his own, Hummel rimmed in another shot and a free throw by JaJuan Johnson gave the Boilermakers a 53-38 advantage with 14:13 to play.
But Moore picked up his fourth foul with almost 13 minutes left as the Boilermakers surpassed the Badgers average of 54.1 points allowed off Hummel's put back with 10:51 left.
Wisconsin, which had stayed in the game thanks to its free throw shooting, missed its first after 20 straight midway through the second half. The Badgers went 30-of-33 from the line, but finished 3-of-18 from 3-point range and gave up 20 points off turnovers.
"Wins and losses, they say a lot, but we didn't think we gave our best effort tonight," Krabbenhoft said. "I think we're more disappointed in that than the loss."