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Purdue ends season in shocking fashion


There's no other way to describe how Purdue's season ended Sunday night.

Maybe the visions of a Final Four the players had were a bit lofty. But a third consecutive Sweet 16? That seemed like a lock.

And then the Boilermakers ran into Virginia Commonwealth, maybe the hottest team in the NCAA tournament.

And Purdue was no match.

Purdue -- a team that has a pair of All-American-caliber talents in JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore.

Purdue -- a team that has shown an ability to apply lock-down, suffocating defense.

Purdue -- a team that has a dynamic leader and point guard in Lewis Jackson, whose quickness routinely gives opponents fits.

Coach Matt Painter said on Friday he thought VCU could beat any team in the country. Turns out it wasn't just hyperbole.

The Rams were simply better Sunday. And just how much better -- 94 points, an 18-point margin? -- was shocking.

"You have to tip your hat to VCU because they're peaking at the right time," Jackson said. "They're clicking on all the right cylinders."

And, really, Purdue couldn't say that about its team for a while.

The Boilermakers lost three of their last four games.

"We just weren't very good defensively at the end of the year, and when you hang your hat on something and then you struggle, it has you searching for answers," Painter said. "We just didn't execute some basic things. I wish it was something that was very difficult and I could sit here and talk about that. But we just didn't do a good job playing half-court defense."

No doubt with the way this ended, some fans still will be wondering, "What if we had Robbie Hummel?"

That could even have been on Hummel's mind as the final minutes elapsed on Sunday. He was on the bench -- in his dress clothes while sitting on the season after knee surgery -- and crying.

Johnson, though, contended that even without Hummel this team still had a chance for special things.

"We beat Ohio State with this team," he said. "They're the No. 1 team in the country, No. 1 overall seed. So we definitely had all the pieces to do it.

"I just think it wasn't our night. We didn't execute like we usually do on both ends really. It just came back to bite us."