Mar 19, 2012, 8:33 AM EDT
Robbie Hummel ensured Purdue was in place to knock off No. 2 Kansas. He hit his first four shots, three of them from beyond the arc and ended the first half with 22 points. The Jayhawks had 30 at the break.
But, like much of Hummel’s star-crossed career, it ended in heartbreak.
Kansas threw a variety of defenses at Hummel in the second half – box and one, triangle and two – in an effort to cool him off, which worked. He finished with 26 points and didn’t score in the final 5:34 as KU pulled off a dramatic 63-60 victory.
“I’ve been a fan from afar for a while, and with everything he’s gone through, he deserved – and I thought before the game – he deserved to play great,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He was fabulous.”
That he was. The fifth-year senior played with the guts and determination one expects from a player who returned from not but, but two season-ending ACL tears. Those injuries cost Hummel a chance to help Purdue make a title run the last two seasons. This seemed to have a storybook feeling to it, but it wasn’t to be.
“I’m basically in shock from the game,” Hummel said. “I can’t believe it’s over.”
His coach, Matt Painter, praised Hummel after the game, as did various coaches on Twitter.
It’s a tough ending for one of college basketball’s good guys and great players. It’s easy to imagine what might have been for Hummel, but he didn’t leave without making his mark.
“He left a legacy here,” Purdue teammate D.J. Byrd told CBSSports.com. “A legacy of hard work, caring, doing everything you can to get on the court.”
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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