While this post won't go up until early Friday morning, I'm writing it on Thursday night. Outside of basketball I'm a diehard football fan and while Purdue's football team is my favorite team in general (out of every sport and every different level), I happen to be a Tampa Bay fan when it comes to the NFL. And as of now it's 0-35 and I've officially switched over to watching the wizard known as Bill Snyder as he tries to coach Kansas State to an inexplicable upset of Auburn.
Tonight's game got me thinking and I guess it's time to finally break out this topic...the ugliest Big Ten game I've ever attended. That statement is a bit loaded when you take into consideration the fact that I live in a MAC city, but said game was also probably the ugliest game I've watched in it's entirety when it comes to Purdue so I figured it fit nonetheless.
Anyway, I had heard some talk that for some reason Purdue was supposed to be traveling to Ypsilanti to take on Eastern Michigan. Ypsilanti is only about a 40 minute drive from where I'm from, a considerably quicker drive than the nearly four and a half hours it takes to get to West Lafayette. Once I realized I'd have the day off I picked up tickets for me and my friends, fronting a whopping $36 for three halfcourt seats in the second row right behind the ESPN3 commentators (you could see us during the breaks when the camera showed the commentators talking). $36. Total. For three tickets, three ticket fees and a transaction fee. This is why we've started going to EMU games.
We eventually would get there a bit ahead of time and to our surprise saw that the parking lot surrounding the arena (as well as the football stadium) was free. It honestly felt more like a mall parking lot then what we'd seen at most stadiums, including Toledo's stadium/arena which relies on a mix of nearby lots, parking garages and student parking lots that they close day of (annoying during the fall when Toledo hosted weeknight football games and student parking became a mess). Once we got situated we entered a stadium with a little over 1700 poor souls, about half loyal Purdue fans that made the drive, and a student section that had maybe 100 to 150 students. That student section included glorious signs like "We're EMU. We're Tough." Clever.
By the time the game started we were treated to a quality of play so ghastly that me and my friends realized we could have fared just as poorly ourselves. While realizing we're obviously not college athletes (though I can probably run as long as most of these guys), it still became apparent that we could convert as many shots as both sides were hitting on (which to be honest, wasn't many).
Seriously, the two teams combined to shoot a not so impressive 30.4% from the field. They shot 28.1% from beyond the arc and even better, converted on only 20 of their combined 39 free throw attempts. Mix that with Purdue's EIGHTEEN turnovers and a 47-44 score and we were treated to a game that set back both teams a few decades. At the very least we saw a quality of play on par with what we could have witnessed if we had gone to our old high school instead (Whitmer). Hell, we would have at least saw Nigel Hayes play so the quality of play would have likely been considerably superior.
Of course we were treated to the typical Purdue shenanigans that season...D.J Byrd missed all five of his three pointers, Terone Johnson shot 25% from the charity stripe, Ronnie Johnson had four turnovers (compared to zero assists) and the Johnson brothers shot over half of the teams field goals. Eastern Michigan split playing time across ten players, had no one reach double digits (or even hit more than three shots) and still won the game.
The Boilermakers had field goal droughts of 4:11, 5:27, 4:13, 5:46 and two more droughts in the three minute mark. They made two field goals in the last eight minutes of the game. Eastern Michigan won even though they didn't make a field goal the last 8:27 and only scored 3 points over that span.
If you took a look at the Eagles numbers you would have assumed Purdue had clobbered them like they did in 2011, when they beat Eastern Michigan 61-36. But they lost, and they did it in about the ugliest way imaginable. The only positive was the games airing on ESPN3 meant a lot of Big Ten fans missed out on what was possibly the ugliest game the Big Ten has seen in years (at least the two other games that come to mind involved Big Ten teams and not a below average MAC squad) . And I got to experience the entirety of it. Also, that student section of a 100 or so fans that I mentioned above...they stormed the court. All 100 of them. I still can't decide if it was one of the more cringe worthy moments or if it was unintentionally hilarious, but my friends and I still joke about it to this day,
The shirt I wore to the game was one I had picked up at Ross-Ade Stadium when Michigan knocked off Purdue. Every single time I wore said shirt Purdue ended up losing, even in games they were assumed to win comfortably. Long story short, I promptly pitched the shit and haven't looked bad. Here's to hoping the Boilers don't have another performance like this anytime soon.