Boilers Struggle from Deep; Yet Still Manage to Beat Middling B1G Foe on the Road
Winning a B1G game on the road is tough...and something to enjoy. At 10-0 atop the conference, the Forces of good have done it quite a bit this season. They notched another in the dusty basement that is Ass. Hall earlier tonight.
IU took their best shot, while Purdue simply couldn't find their range or rhythm in the first half. Before they knew it, Matty's boys were down by ten points, and looking up at the sixth place Hoosiers. Coming into this one, I was wary of IU; a bubble team that needs a signature win is dangerous enough...add in the rivalry, and Purdue had a massive target on their back.
IU played as well as they could- they have limited weapons this season, and Miller's defensive-minded Hoosiers decided to take away the three as much as possible. The end result was Big Drago was being defended by just one man for much of the game. That was enough to allow the Hokes Bluff native to tie his career high; 27 points. He added five rebounds in 30 minutes of bruising action. Instead of double teaming, IU mediums would use a double-shove in the lower back...the refs missed it most of the time.
Speaking of missing fouls, IU was whistled for just two in the first twenty minutes...seven less than the average Purdue opponent commits against these Boilers. But it was in Ass. Hall, afterall...funny things happen there. In the second half, fatigue made IU's interior defense tired, and the fouls began to mount. Purdue hit 83.3% of their FTs...and they mattered down the stretch.
Carsen Edwards had been seeking a trophy for much of the season...and he found his mark in this game. Boogie didn't play great, especially in the first half as he seemed to force a few shots. He finished with 10 points a steal and no assists. But the photo above is what most Purdue fans will remember from the game a year from now, I'd bet.
Vincent was sizable down the stretch. As IU figured out that it might be smart to double team Haas, he was able to find a cutting Edwards time and again. Perhaps Vince and his fellow Senior class simply didn't want to lose to that team on that court...regardless of the motivation, he was tough, yet again, as he looked like one of the best players, especially in the second half. He finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds and two assists. But his five turnovers, mostly in the first 30 minutes kept the game too interesting for the Boiler faithful.
Outside of V. Edwards' offensive lapses, Purdue took good care of the ball and only turned it over seven total times. But, for a big chunk of the game, our Boilers were dominated by the smaller, seemingly more-motivated Hoosiers. In spite of getting tougher on the glass late in the game, Purdue still lost the rebounding battle 31-30.
Mathias' 9 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist game was solid, but he was hampered by fouls a bit as he picked up a third early in the second half. In spite of this, Paint kept him in the game as a defensive stopper and calming force. He didn't pick up another foul after he was whistled for his third, by the way.
Haarms had two blocks, and Eastern had a solid few minutes in the first half, while spelling PJ, who didn't make a ton of noise outside of his three steals. Purdue's bench was generally quiet, scoring just 6 points...Cline and Eifert did not score.
Make no bones about it- Morgan and Johnson played tough. They combined for 45 of IU's 67 points, and were able to make this game closer than the computers had predicted. Their heroics weren't enough as their #5 squad (in the state of Indiana) fell, 74-67 to the number three team in America.
Purdue will probably lose a game (or two) before the post season is upon us...but I'm pretty damned thankful they didn't lose today for selfish reasons. In spite of Delaney's awful schedule, Purdue will still get to brag about winning yet another in the storied series with IU while winning their 7th in the last 8 contests.
Purdue shot 17% off of their normal three point pace (just 27%), and simply didn't play that well...but as this team seems to do this season, someone stepped up when buckets were needed down the stretch. Tonight it was Vincent and Haas...Who will it be v. Maryland, late Wednesday night? They tip-off at 8:30 as they'll look to increase their streak to 18-straight wins.