They played harder. They played tougher. They seemed to want it more.
Arizona was careless with the ball. In a game where they knew they had to take care of the ball, they committed 17 turnovers. The Boilermakers are a good defensive team, but they weren't that good. For every tough steal they made, the Wildcats committed a turnover of their own valition.
Purdue is a quality basketball team, but they were not better than Arizona. They had some good players, but Arizona has better personnel.
In a disappointing season, this was the worst loss of all. Arizona may not have the talent of the great Arizona teams, but they were far too talented to lose in the first round. They were far too talented to lose to this Purdue team.
Sadly, a Wildcat team that began the season roaring, went out on a whimper. A team that once looked like an offensive juggernaut, failed to crack 70 points in three of their last five games, and scored exactly 70 in their win over Cal.
No one symbolized the Wildcats' late season struggles more than Mustafa Shakur. In his final game Shakur summed up the entire season. He dished out an impressive eight assists, but turned the ball over eight times as well. He never got the offense going in a game that saw the Boilermakers shoot less than 40%.
Sadly a good kid, a hardworking player will leave with a legacy of disappointment. Shakur never lived up to the hype and three of the teams he led underachieved.
Other than Jawann McClellan and Bret Brielmaier, the entire team was disappointing. Chase Budinger led the team in scoring, but only got off nine shots. Marcus Williams and Ivan Radenovic could never take over in what was most likely their last game in an Arizona uniform. Jordan Hill got pushed around early, and was essentially benched for the second half.
Friday's game was won on guts and toughness. Something the Cats lacked, so much so that Lute Olson and all of the Wildcat players mentioned it after the game. It was so apparent that Wildcat assistant coach Jim Rosborough said that changes in how the Wildcats practice will be implemented next season.
No player was tougher than freshman Chris Kramer. Kramer had less hype than Budinger. In fact he had less hype than Hill or little used Nic Wise, but he was the toughest player in a tough game. Not bad for a kid that only had offers from Purdue, Iowa, Bowling Green and Ball State.
How good was Kramer? With the shot clock winding down he hit bucket on his knees.
In the end two things killed the Cats, turnovers and offensive rebounds. The Wildcats committed nine more turnovers and grabbed 10 less offensive rebounds. Essentially they got 19 more possessions and 12 more shots.
The officials let a lot go and the Cats never properly adjusted. Even though the Wildcats committed five more fouls, it was Purdue who was the aggressor.
"There is no question that they were much more physical," Lute Olson said.
In the end Purdue played better and played harder. Frankly, they seemed to want it more. Arizona had better players and better athletes but it really didn't matter.
As the smoke cleared the tougher team is playing Florida on Sunday.