Boilers Ground Golden Eagles at Marquette, 86-71
Feature image from @Boilerball
Starters: PJ Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias, Vince(nt) Edwards, Isaac Haas
Finishers: PJ Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias, Vince(nt) Edwards, Matt Haarms
Don’t look at early season Kenpom ratings, don’t look at the talent both teams lost this summer, don’t look at the narrative-driven preseason polls. Just look at the players on the floor and it’ll be obvious:
Purdue and Marquette are two of the 25 best teams in the country, and Purdue walked out of the Golden Eagles’ house with an extremely impressive road win, 86-71.
A little background – Marquette shot 43% from three last year, the best in the country by a pretty solid margin. They lost three key pieces, but their shooters (Markus Howard, Sam Hauser, Andrew Rowsey) all returned, making the Golden Eagles a dangerous team for a yet-to-be-proven Purdue perimeter defense.
Turns out, they’re still pretty damn good at shooting the basketball.
Purdue’s first half was plagued by poor shooting (0-5 from three), foul trouble (Haas, Edwards, Mathias, and Haarms all had two fouls before halftime), and Marquette’s sharp offense was capitalizing on every shot attempt outside the paint. But Haarms’ rim protection, Grady Eifert’s amazing defense off the bench, Ryan Cline’s newfound dribble-drive attack, and Carsen Edwards channeling Spring 2017 Isaiah Thomas kept Purdue’s slim 2-point lead going into the half.
The second half saw a legitimate Purdue offensive adjustment – they realized Haas’ size would have to give Purdue’s shooters space (a la Swanigan last year), and the big boy didn’t disappoint. 8 of Purdue’s first 9 second-half points were scored by Haas, but Marquette came back swinging with a swift pair of threes. Vince’s sporadic early second half minutes were very productive (he finished with 8 rebounds in 16 minutes of play, which is much more impressive than his 10 points on 4/7 shooting), because it turns out having your best players on the floor is really good for a top 20 team. But the refs’ whistles kept Vince on the bench for way too long.
Thankfully, Purdue had Grady Eifert. Yes, that Grady Eifert. The former walk-on who requires an automatic mention of his talented NFL brother. But we’re not doing that tonight, because Eifert’s defensive effort and offensive efficiency (along with well-timed threes from PJ and Carsen) saved Purdue from sweating this one down the stretch.
The game was over when…
…within the span of 30 seconds, both Marquette’s deadeye shooter Markus Howard (24 points, 8/13 shooting) and lone center Matt Heldt fouled out. Over 5 minutes left to play, and Purdue’s players in foul trouble were the last ones standing.
Purdue ended up beating a really talented team by 15 points, on their home floor, while in foul trouble, while shooting poorly. This will be a resume-boosting win by the time March Madness seeding rolls around, and (along with Purdue's absurd strength of schedule) is the type of win that breaks seed-line ties. Seems like a great Tuesday night to me.
Player of the Game:
It’s tough to look past Grady Eifert (seriously), but Isaac Haas was the man tonight. Marquette was laying back on Purdue’s shooters, with 6’10” center Matt Heldt left defending the Boilermaker Ent all on his own. Haas made them pay play after play, finishing with 22 points (8/14 shooting), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and only 2 turnovers in 20 minutes of play.
- Grady Eifert has been the biggest surprise of the summer, and will be a much bigger part of the rotation than Eden Ewing. He was in great defensive positioning, crashed the glass hard, and kept the ball moving around the perimeter. He was perfect in his role providing depth off the bench with Vince in foul trouble, against a very solid team. Shoutout Grady. Even though he airballed a free throw.
- Oh my lawd is Marquette a fantastic three point shooting team. They’re gonna be *dangerous* in March, and they should be a top 25 team this year.
- Matt Haarms at the rim on both ends of the floor. Defensively, he’s not just a shot blocker – he’s been a real rim protector, with really smart rotations and great timing to go with his infinite length. Offensively, his added 20 lbs of muscle complements his impossible length and high release point, making it pretty much impossible to disrupt his traditional post game. He can attack the basket fairly effectively as well, which is, uuh, unique for a 7'3" mini-Porzingis.
- Ryan Cline can drive, to the basket, and this could be a real wrinkle in Purdue’s arsenal if he’s consistent.
- Vince and Dakota both have Dirk moves in the post, and I’m of course going to credit World Champion Brian Cardinal with the influence.
- Vince is crashing the glass as hard as Swanigan was last year. The results obviously aren’t the same, but the tenacity is appreciated in this corner of the internet.
- Having a summer full of games builds continuity, and that continuity (and playing time, for a player like Eifert) pays off in weird game situations like tonight. This is where Purdue has an early-season edge on most teams in the country, and banking wins while other teams are still working to gel is the best way this Purdue team can boost their seeding in March.
- Three-point shooting was an early concern. Purdue opened 0/5 in the first half, but went 4/7 in in the second. Purdue needs to do a better job freeing up shooters when defenses play them tight.
- Haarms’ back sounded like an issue in the second half. I’m not sure if it was cramping or tweaked, but the universe had better leave my Matty alone.
- The PJ-Carsen-Cline-Eifert-Taylor lineup, necessitated by fouls. Never again.
- Ticky-tack foul calls in a wide-open game between two dangerous offenses is really dumb.
- Nojel Eastern looked like a freshman again, notching 3 fouls in only 4 minutes of play in a game where Purdue needed relief for Vince.
- Haarms’ jumper is still a little bit of a work in progress.
Moving Picture Thingy of the Night:
Tweet of the night: