More than just an ugly loss

Purdue's problems aren't going away anytime soon. What appeared to be red flags have turned into alarming, unsolvable problems.

The only thing uglier than Purdue's loss to weary Washington State is the ramifications on its résumé.

This schedule is a cake walk. There were the first five games against middling mid-majors, set in order for the team to learn and grow. The games against the Northern Kentuckys were supposed to prepare Purdue for stiffer competition. Instead, all those red flags have become glaring problems.

Purdue was playing sloppy basketball in its first five games, taking terrible shots in long stretches and showing inconsistency on defense. Overall, this team lacked an identity. The road trip to Orlando was supposed to help this team come together, on and off the court.

Forget the triumphant comeback against fifth-ranked Oklahoma State, and the stout defensive effort in the first half of Friday's contest. None of that matters when the result is two losses.

This Purdue team is too shaky to overcome its inconsistencies. It didn't catch the Boilermakers in their first five games, but it got them now. This isn't an anomaly anymore.

Still, the Boilermakers don't have a go-to scorer. Terone and Ronnie Johnson have shown they can't be counted on. Meanwhile, A.J. Hammons' abilities are being wasted while his teammates can't get the ball inside.

The alarming snags on defense aren't just an occasional thing. The Boilermakers allowed 52 second-half points to the Cougars. Washington State hit on 19 of 29 shots after posting a meager 22.2 in the first half. This wasn't just a bad stretch; Purdue faltered for an entire half of play.

Let's reiterate that this wasn't Marcus Smart and Oklahoma State this time. There's simply no excuse for this.

There's talent on this Purdue roster, no doubt about it. This year, there's depth at each position. It was supposed to be different than last year. Right now, it might be even worse.

This Purdue team has yet to come together. There are still many problems, even after five games that should have been surefire wins. The Northern Kentuckys weren't good enough to turn the Boilermakers' struggles into an upset, but Washington State was.

Entering this nonconference slate, there was no room for error. Purdue needs to make up for this game, because let's call it what it was, a bad loss. The only Northern Kentuckys left on the schedule are Eastern Michigan and Maryland Eastern Shore. After this thud, the Boilers essentially need to win out before the Big Ten schedule starts.

It's hard to see that happening. This Purdue team has plenty of problems, and there's no sign of a solution.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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