Basketball, by definition, is a make or miss game. Sometimes a team makes a bunch of shots, and sometimes a team misses a bunch of shots. When those two phenomena occur in one game, that game is usually relatively lopsided.
Take tonight's 80-59 contest in West Lafayette, Indiana, for example. The No. 23 Purdue Boilermakers (18-5, 7-3 B1G) took it to the No. 25 (yep, not a typo) Northwestern Wildcats (18-5, 7-3 B1G) from the jump. Sure, NU held the lead in the opening minutes, but once Purdue grabbed it back, there was no stopping that train. Do you know why? Because they simply did. not. miss. shots.
The Boilermakers hit nine three pointers in the first half on 14 attempts, and that was all she wrote. Unable to keep pace with shooting that hot and unable to provide an answer for Purdue's two-headed big man monster of Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas, NU was run out of the gym before halftime. It was 45-23 in favor of Purdue as the teams headed to the locker room. The second half was more competitive, per usual in games like this, but, unfortunately for the 'Cats, you don't get to start over after halftime.
Did the 'Cats miss the scoring threat of an ill Scottie Lindsey? Absolutely. Would it have been nice to have Nathan Taphorn available to provide some minutes of rest and knock down an occasional three? Sure. But the bottom line tonight was that the Boilermakers came to the gym with a hot hand for a matchup that was already pretty favorable for them. NU simply didn't have the bodies down low to beat a team like Purdue, especially down two men.
I see you, Northwestern fans. I can sense your angst. This is the collapse this program has been doomed for this whole time, you're thinking. I'm here to tell you to take a few steps back from that ledge, my friends. The 'Cats don't play for nearly another week, and they'll be hosting a beatable Illinois squad at home when Tuesday rolls around. Scottie Lindsey will be back this year. It may not be for the next game, or the game after that, but he will be back.
Also, check out the records at the top of this "recap." 18-5, 7-3. Nobody was knocked off a bubble tonight. Northwestern will need to get healthy and right its ship soon, no question. But there is still ample time to rack up conference wins and reach the Promised Land.
Northwestern will likely slip from the rankings after this weekend, since they are idle. Don't let that freak you out. This is still a "different Northwestern" team. They just need some time to rest, and they'll prove it.