Purdue Looks Good Again, Beats Penn State 74-57

Purdue Looks Good Again, Beats Penn State 74-57

Starters: Johnny Hill, Ray Davis, Vince Edwards, Caleb Swanigan, AJ Hammons
Finishers: Johnny Hill, Dakota Mathias, Ray Davis, Vince Edwards, AJ Hammons

 

What happened?

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Back to your regularly scheduled programming. Purdue beat Penn State 74-57 in Mackey Arena, in a dominant (though sloppy) victory. A victory against Penn State shouldn’t be considered important by any team with Final Four aspirations, but for this group of Boilermakers it seems like a pretty essential win.

2016 hasn’t been kind to Purdue. They opened with a loss against Jarrod Uthoff a better-then-expected Iowa team, easily beat Michigan (without their best player), and got blown out at Illinois. With MLK Monday’s game against Rutgers wrapping up the “easy” part of Purdue’s schedule, notching a comfortable victory was a massive relief.

Purdue played with an energy that was completely missing against Illinois, spurred on by a crowd that was ignited by two AJ Hammons blocks and a shot clock violation within the game’s first four minutes. The defensive urgency of Ray Davis (who held Shep Garner to 2 points at halftime), AJ and Isaac Haas’ bullyball in the post, and aggression of Vince Edwards pushed Purdue to a 25-13 lead after 11 minutes of play.

Here’s where the sloppiness starts to seep in, though. Purdue let Penn State go on an 8-0 run, cutting the lead to 6 and breathing life into a severely outmatched Nittany Lion team. Thankfully, the combination of Dakota Mathias and Edwards was enough to kick Purdue back into gear. With 3 minutes left in the first half, Mathias grabbed a long rebound, ran the break, drove straight to the baseline after a nifty fake towards the middle, and shoveled a picturesque pass to Isaac Haas (who devoured the entire basket in one gulp as he went up for the dunk). On the very next play, Mathias grabbed another long rebound and ran the break, this time hitting Vince Edwards for a backbreaking corner three to put Purdue up 13.

In the second half, Purdue would alternate between 5 minutes of wonderful play followed by 3 minutes of “forgetting how to do the basketball and the free throws thing” play. The lead would stretch to 20, Penn State would go on a run, and either Edwards, Hammons, or Biggie would halt the run.

Caleb Swanigan had a Jekyll/Hyde game, opening with a dismal half (outside of his rebounding effort, where he was his usual stellar self) that was fueled by poor shot selection and a handful of turnovers. Biggie’s second half was fairly solid, though, as he opened up with two nice post moves and a tip-in. Though Biggie’s half consisted of 8 points and 7 rebounds on 50% shooting, it was someone else that stole the show.

 

Player of the Game:

When darkness fills your life, when you feel like despair has taken the world and nothing good or pure is left, when the only thing you need to hear to keep you going is the perfect swoosh of a man born to get buckets…just know that Vince Edwards will always be there to make everything alright.

19 points on 6/8 shooting. A perfect 4/4 from three point land. 3/4 from the free throw line. 5 rebounds, 1 steal, 0 turnovers. 0 hesitation with the ball, 0 opportunities passed up, 5 opponents on the floor living in constant fear of #12. Easily Vince’s best performance of the season, and hopefully the breakout game that carries him through this year. Purdue needs more games like this from Vince before anyone can feel comfortable with their lofty 2016 goals.

 

The game was over when…

…Vince Edwards decided he was done with this nonsense and nailed a gorgeous semi-transition three to put Purdue up 22 with 12 minutes left.

Well, that should have been the end. Again, Penn State rallied and brought the game to within 14 with 4 minutes left, but Johnny Hill stole the ball and AJ Hammons hit a soul-crushing bunny layup.

 

The Good:

·       Aggressive Vince is the most beautiful thing in the entire world.

·       AJ’s confident post ups. Just look at the way he grabs this entry pass…you know he’s wondering whether they’re really about to play him one-on-one. And daydreaming about that slice of pineapple and ham pizza he’s gonna devour after the game.

·       AJ eclipsed 300 career blocks. 13 points on 6/11 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks. Ho-hum. I’m gonna miss AJ so much.

·       Isaac Haas was damn near unstoppable (14 points on 5/6 shooting, 4/5 from the line). Especially when he was kissing jumpers perfectly off the glass like he’s Tim Duncan:

·       Johnny Hill (2 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block) was fantastic today, despite numbers that don’t jump off the page. He was aggressive with his off-ball cuts, made the right passes, and looked active on defense. He wasn’t Octeus (who was in the crowd, along with His Holiness Robbie Hummel), but he was definitely the better point guard tonight.

·       Dakota Mathias, a player I’m fairly hard on, had a Swiss Army Knife “Vince Edwards” game that doesn’t begin to be described by the stat line. 6 points (2/3 shooting), 5 rebounds, and 4 assists never looked so strong, particularly given some of the great feeds he made after reading the defense to set up Haas entry passes. Pair that with decent defensive effort, and you’ve got one of Dakota’s better games as a Boiler.

·       Purdue outrebounded Penn State 42-25, with a 14-5 advantage on the offensive end. A healthy amount of those rebounds, six of them split between Vince and AJ, ended up like this:

 

The Bad:

·       Biggie Swanigan disrupting the offense with ill-advised long twos and contested threes. I’m glad he’s confident, and the way he crashes the glass is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but some of those shots Biggie tossed up were abysmal, and looked even worse when we saw the destruction he’s capable of when he gets strong post position.

·       Biggie also has the habit of posting up on the same side, or in this case directly in to, AJ Hammons. Need better awareness than this.

·       Three separate 3-minute stretches without any made field goals is a concern.

·       Free throw shooting. 63% on 19 attempts isn’t good enough.

 

The Ugly:

·       Purdue let off the gas a bit once the lead got over 15. They’ve thrown away games like this before, and can’t afford to let leads slip close to single digits like this again. I counted three separate 3-minute stretches of scorelessness, which will be capitalized on by better teams than Penn State.

·       Haas has to stop bringing the ball down to his hips in the post. This wasn’t an issue at all last year…making me wonder if he’s starting to overthink his moves on the block. Nobody should be able to stop a 7’3” center built like a Dodge Durango, especially if he doesn’t hesitate with the ball.

·       Kendall Stephens fell behind Ryan Cline in the rotation, which was great for Cline (who pairs incredible off-ball offensive movement with rudimentary awareness defensively) but bad for The Kid. Kendall played a game-low 9 minutes, which was curious because I thought he had been playing fine over the last few games…not great, but certainly not bad enough to be demoted. Painter must know something I don’t, but Purdue could really use a version of Kendall Stephens that lives up to his pedigree.

·       Ray Davis played great individual defense, as always…but he’s really struggling offensively. 2 points on 1/5 shooting is a common denominator in Purdue’s three losses, so getting Ray going should be a priority for Purdue.

 

Moving Picture Thingy of the Night:

Johnny Hill, doing his best LeBron James impression:

 

Tweet of the night:

There were several great candidates tonight. First, a candid moment in the Mackey Arena stands:

Black Shoe Diaries fired off a couple pretty great Purdue Pete fanfic tweets:

But the winner, and frontrunner for tweet of the year:

If you ever, ever, get a chance to get crunk with Buzz Aldrin on the streets of Lafayette, Boiled Sports expects you to take extremely detailed notes and report back with a 10,000 word post reflecting on that once-in-a-lifetime experience. We’re also interested in developing a Buzz Aldrin Wanders Purdue screenplay, so get at us asap.


Feature Image from @BoilerBall.

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Guards over Bigs - Illinois Punishes Purdue

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