Purdue fizzles again in pipeline city

Purdue needs better performances in its pipeline of Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS - As Matt Painter talked Friday morning about his affection for the four-team Crossroads Classic that includes Purdue, Indiana, Butler and Notre Dame, the Boilermaker coach had only one complaint.

"I would like to win one," Painter said.

Painter will have to wait at least one more year after Butler got 25 points from sophomore guard Kellen Dunham on Saturday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the Bulldogs extended the Boilermakers recent woes in the state capitol, 76-70.

In the city that can be a college program's recruiting pipeline to success, Purdue is not making lasting impressions.

The Boilermakers are now 0-3 in the Crossroads Classic, losing to Butler in 2011, Notre Dame in 2012 and Butler again on Saturday. Coupled with Big Ten Conference partner IU, the Boilermakers and Hoosiers now are an ugly 1-5 in Crossroads Classic action.

Overall, Purdue is 1-5 in its six most recent games in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, including Big Ten Tournament losses to Minnesota in 2011 and to Michigan State in 2012.

While the Boilermakers certainly need an Indianapolis presence to help secure the rich talent pool that plays high school basketball in Marion County, their past six attempts to impress have ended with five defeats.

On Saturday, Purdue raced to an early 17-9 advantage, then watched as gritty Butler turned an early eight-point deficit into a 16-point, second-half lead before the Boilermakers made one last charge that was too little and too late.

Purdue is 8-3, but has lost to the three best teams on its early season schedule - Oklahoma State, Washington State and now Butler, which improved to 3-0 in the Crossroads Classic.

If the Boilermakers lose next week at West Virginia, they will complete the non-conference season with a postseason resume that will be void of a signature victory.

Northern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Maryland Eastern Shore don.t have NCAA selection Sunday members saying, "Now that is impressive."

One of my Twitter followers sent me a message late in Saturday's second half proclaiming that this Purdue basketball team doesn't know how to string good at-bats together.

That's a great analogy for this group that is talented but can't quite seem to put it all together on a nightly consistent basis. Good for a four-minute stretch. Baffling in its poor play during the next four minutes.

Purdue can get by with that against the so-called directional schools, but that will not fly against talented teams, and it really won't fly in the Big Ten Conference.

The Boilermakers could have created a huge, game-long problem for Butler, but A.J. Hammons was in foul trouble all night and played only 17 minutes, fouling out with 10 points and only three rebounds.

Sharpshooting freshman guard Kendall Stephens also got into foul trouble and was limited to two points in 15 minutes.

Terone Johnson had a game-best 20 points, but he guarded Dunham most of the night, and Dunham put 25 on the board in front of an announced crowd of 18,165, many of whom left the building after Notre Dame stunned Indiana 79-72 in Saturday's opener.

When Purdue has been good in the Painter era, it has defended well, rebounded and played unselfishly, recognizing who should get the basketball and when he should get it.

This team has yet to solve any of those facets on a consistent basis, and until it does, it will continue to play in front of an oftentimes uninspired audience. If there were many Purdue fans in the house here on Saturday, it was difficult to tell.

And if there were any prospective Purdue basketball recruits in Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday, they had to have left uninspired by a team that needs to find and establish an identity quickly.

Losing 5 of 6 in the hotbed that is Indianapolis area basketball is not the way to enhance the Boilermaker basketball program.

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