Boilers Fear Not The Turtle; Hang on 83-79
Nobody does it better than Mackey Arena in February when the game matters…and the homecourt advantage was obvious earlier this evening in God’s country. Kinda.
The Paint Crew fueled Purdue to a hot start, then a 16 point lead before some of the most questionable officiating that I’ve seen this season made itself known. If it weren’t for the raucous Blackout crowd, you might not known who was at home; there was no home cooking today.
I’m really not sure if Turgeon and his staff gave back rubs or tough love to the officiating crew today, but whatever they did, Coach Paint needs to make note of it and emulate it. I’ve been critical of the way Painter works officials because the results are lackluster, today was no different. There was about a 10 minute period in the first half in which Maryland was without blemish or whistle (according to this crew)…and it mattered. It helped them scratch and claw their way back into the game. Still, Dakota Mathias took it upon himself to keep the Terps at an arms length heading into the half.
From the upper arena, it looked like Mathias was feeling it all day…the only guy who could stop him was the unlikable Duke transfer (name withheld intentionally)…but when Nickens or even Layman was on him, Dakota poured it on. He finished with 17 points and 4 assists off of the bench in a significant 27 minutes of play. Not only was he scoring, but he just played smart- important passes to the post, choosing when to drive and when to pop…he might have played his best game as a Boiler…but he wasn’t the leading scorer.
It’s never surprising when Hammons leads the Good Guys in scoring. He had 19 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks…but he struggled at times with Maryland’s length. So what do you think he did? He decided to take his game outside and go 2/2 from deep (SURPRISE!!!). Maryland has four players who are over 6’11”…and Purdue had three of those sizable Terps thrown at their two seven footers. Maryland is as big as an NBA team…and even the guys who are only 6’9” have seven foot plus wing spans. They’re the only team that really matches Purdue’s height on the schedule…but Purdue seems to match-up quite well with this uber-talented and large squad.
According to a few people I heard talking, there were nearly 20 NBA scouts there to watch five or six guys who have a chance to get picked in the first two rounds next season…and another two or three (Haas, Swanigan and Edwards) who might be on draft boards 2017.
This game was pretty close to the contest between the Forces of Good and Maryland a few weeks ago on the road…Purdue had the lead for most of it and absolutely fell apart at the four minute mark. In that one (in case you've blocked it), Purdue lost a single digit lead near the four minute TV timeout, and simply got blown out by Trimble and co. in the closing stanza. In this one, Purdue took a 10 point lead and urinated all over their hard work by allowing it to evaporate in a mere two minutes.
That’s right, in case you didn’t watch a FLIPPING TRAP ZONE PRESS (wanna see my shocked face?) almost spelled doom for the Boilers yet again. Hill, Edwards and Thompson all had at least one turnover…but the guy who was making me most nuts during that two minute period was Edwards. He seemed to want to let Maryland trap him- he’d dribble once or twice and wait for them to surround him before hoping things would turn out OK (they generally didn’t). Maryland’s length and athleticism came into play in this portion of the game as well. The crazy thing is Purdue actually finished this game out pretty strong. But was absolutely a group of dead men walking for two minutes.
I don’t want you to think it was all bad for Purdue's Soph SF…Edwards played well for about 38 of the 40 minutes. 11 points, 7 rebounds and a couple assists…but his three turnovers were costly. That said, since they won, you can almost forget about the crap when you think back to a few important free throws made by him…and this moment:
Biggie was solid with 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists…and looked much better defensively versus the versatile Carter from Maryland. Haas had an efficient 9 points, 3 rebounds in just 12 minutes of play. He also had a fun moment in this one (special note: no foul on Maryland before the entry pass):
RayDay also got into the even team scoring picture with 11 points and 7 rebounds…one of his shots was an important three pointer in the first half during Purdue’s white hot run during Mackey’s Blackout.
Cline only played four minutes, Thompson hit an important open shot in the closing minutes that was important, but his defense versus Trimble was good for about 25 minutes. Johnny Hill was quiet offensively as well…but had a press-breaking finger roll that ended in what I might call the game-winning bucket…but that wasn’t exactly true.
Hammons, Davis and Edwards hit six-straight free throws that were yuuuuuuuuuuge and salted the game away. Purdue’s 70% FT shooting for the game isn’t too shabby…but 100% in the last two minutes was nails. Maryland hit a blistering 89% from the stripe, by the way.
Purdue was shockingly-well-rounded today. They hit 41% of their three pointers, out-rebounded the mammoth Maryland line-up 41 to 22 and had 16 assists as a team…but the flurry of turnovers in that dreadful two minute period nearly cost them another win over a ranked team.
If Purdue beats Nebraska on the road and Wisconsin at home, they’ll probably finish the season around 15th in the nation and will earn a 4 seed for the tournament, regardless of what they do in the B1G tournament. Being higher than a five seed has always been something I regarded as imperative for them to making real noise in the dance.
Purdue’s offense looked better today, they showed a bit more of a high tempo that worked, fought through adversity and at the same time the defense was solid enough since they didn’t allow more than 40 points to a good team in either half.
Next up, the boys travel to the frozen tundra of Lincoln to face a Cornhusker squad that is skidding to the end of their season. They’ve lost three straight…this one feels like a trap. Matty and Co. better have them dialed in at 8:00 on Tuesday.