Boilers Shake Off Early Struggles, Cruise Past Jaguars
Sunday, the Boilers started off poorly against an overmatched opponent, as careless play on offense turned out to be their undoing. Fortunately, the team with 33 turnovers during Sunday's sort-of-doubleheader was the women's team, who lost to Ohio 77-71 in an early-afternoon game in Mackey. The men's team did look a little shaky themselves in the nightcap, giving up the first 5 points to IUPUI and later conceding a 12-0 run to give the Jaguars a 19-10 lead. Fortunately, the next 22 minutes of basketball looked nothing like the first ten, as the Good Guys outscored their guests 62-21 during that stretch. By that point, Painter had already begun resting his starters, as 11 Boilers would end up scoring in Purdue's 86-61 rout of IUPUI, which became Painter's 300th win overall, making him just one of three active coaches with 300+ wins in 14 years or less (BYU's Dave Rose and Arizona's Sean Miller are the other two).
Sure, there were minor areas for concern. Rebounding continues to be an area for improvement: the Boilers gave up a number of offensive rebounds (but just .258, well below their season percentage, which dropped to .297 - DI average is .290), conceded a number of backdoor cuts (Loyola grad transfer Maurice Kirby led IUPUI with 16 points on 8 of 12 shooting, most of which came on backdoor cuts), and had that rough stretch to start the game. But should we be worried? Let's check the kenpom win probability chart.
Right. Nothing to worry about. Just another top-10-caliber performance from the defending conference champions:
- 27 points from game MVP Boogie, thanks to 9-for-11 shooting inside the arc and a perfect 3-for-3 from the line
- Double-double #5 from Vincent Edwards, who has yet to score in single digits this season; his 12 and 12 included a game-high 4 offensive boards, and like Boogie, Vincent did not miss from the line (6 for 6)
- 9 points on 3-for-5 from beyond the arc for Ryan Cline, who finally seems to be regaining his touch; more importantly, he had 4 assists and no turnovers, including a great kickout for an end-of-first-half three that made the halftime margin 9 instead of 6
- 14 points and 6 boards from Haas in 22 minutes, plus no fouls - NONE, even with Big Tenteen refs calling the game - and a key technical drawn on IUPUI's Evan Hall, who barged into Haas on his way upcourt after contact underneath the basket during a Mathias 3. The five-point play pushed Purdue's run to 18-0, and a Haas layup on the next possession would cap it at 20.
Look, this game was exactly what you'd expect it to be: IUPUI gave it everything they had for a quarter, and when that ran out, the Boilers took command. That's pretty much all that's worth taking from this game; the downside of playing 200- and 300-rated teams is that there is no upside. Purdue will roll Tennessee State next week in the same fashion, and it'll do just as much for their resume.
The only two games of any value in the next month are the next one, against Butler in the Crossroads Classic, and at Michigan in their real conference road opener on January 9th. The game against the Wolverines will be the first of a two-game road trip where Purdue's win probability drops below 60% for the first time in months. (They travel to Minneapolis on the 13th before returning home to play what's left of Wisconsin on the 16th.)
In fact, those two road games are two of the only three left on the schedule where the Good Guys are less than 60% favorites. The other one is what could end up being the de facto regular-season championship: in East Lansing on February 10th. Since there won't be a return match in Mackey, but of course there are two games against Rutgers (thanks again, Delany), the Spartans are significant favorites (71%) and could well end up getting the #1 seed based on that game. To make that a possibility, the Boilers (and MSU) must take care of business between now and then.
That starts with Saturday, when Ohio State's next coach takes an adequate Bulldog team to the bigger stage in Indy to face the Old Gold and Black. Butler's done just about what you'd expect a kenpom-#50 team to do: beat the little guys (although they struggled a bit with #162 Princeton at home and #161 Portland State away - in Portland but not on PSU's home court), lose to better teams (#44 Maryland away and #26 Texas in Portland), and play even with similar teams (a one-point OT win over #51 Ohio State - no, I don't know how Chris Holtmann has them playing that well - in Portland). Unlike the last couple of years, Butler's focus this season has been on inside play. If you think that's not a good bet against Isaac Haas, and that a team shooting just .313 from three could struggle to find shots against the #14 defense in the country, well, you and I think alike.
Noon tipoff Saturday, coverage on Fox (which means no online stuff, because really, who even has Fox Sports Go?), or hie thee down to What's Conseco's Name This Year Fieldhouse. Who knows? Maybe you'll run into one of the famous folks from Boiled Sports.