Brawny Boilers Bully Leathernecks; 82-50
The computers heavily favored Purdue to win tonight...to the tune of a 90+ percent chance of winning...that said, it's never good to play a team that has nothing to lose, and everything to gain (ask our pals in East Lansing about this).
Purdue welcomed another overmatched foe to the greatest venue in America...but the Paint Crew-Free Mackey Arena didn't have much magic or electricity in the air...and it didn't matter from the jump. Western Illinois hadn't played in God's Country since the heady CBI days, and this one had all of the buzz of that game.
With the students on break and frigid temps throughout Indiana, there were good seats available, but Matty and the boys looked dialed in...especially the bigs.
Swanigan played with some controlled emotion as he flexed some muscle on the glass, yet again. He backed up his second BT POW award with an eye-popping 21 point/21 rebound game...and he didn't even play in the final eight minutes of the contest. Eastern Illinois struggled mightily to deal with what seemed to be a motivated Biggie on the glass. If it was near the rim, it was his, pretty much. He also had a few assists; one from the high post down to V. Edwards that reminded all of us how well-rounded of a player he is.
His pal, fellow large human, Isaac Haas had a rock solid game as well, but went about it in a different manner. 18pts/6rebs is a solid night for any big man in the nation...but shooting 12/13 from the stripe is pretty damned great. The fact that Big Drago was getting fouled so regularly got under his skin a bit, it seemed. On the play in the photo, he not only got the rebound, but tossed a leatherneck about like a ragdoll in the process and absolutely refused to relinquish the ball...even after the play was whistled dead. THAT is the type of will I want to see from Purdue's biggest nice guy (off the court).
Vince(nt) came to play too...16pts/6rebs/6ast/0TOs...Two of three from three, and simply efficient all-around. His high level of skill was on display.
The truth is, the undersized frontcourt of Western Illinois wasn't that undersized...but they couldn't match the skill nor athleticism of Purdue. Their coach tried to throw a 6'10" and a pair of 6'11" guys at Purdue, and it didn't matter...it wasn't their night.
On top of the bigs enjoying a pre-Christmas feast, Mathias and Thompson combined for 10 assists and just one TO.
Usually they say that when you live by the three, you die by it as well...Purdue only shot 28% from deep, and it didn't matter. At one point in the second half, it felt like Purdue was playing atrociously, but the Forces of Good still held a 22 point lead. It happens.
Purdue improved to 10-2 on the season and will play their third game in five days, on Wednesday night at 7:00p. This time, they'll welcome Norfolk State to a winter's slumber-y Mackey. Purdue is favored in this one by about 40 points...as this will be the second game in as many contests versus a team that is in the 300s according to a few of the computer polls.