Boilers Outrun Bobcats, 95-67
After a rough finals week (hopefully only on the court), the Good Guys were back in Mackey for the first of two winter break home games before real conference play begins against Iowa. Unlike in the longer series of struggles, where 5 of 7 games were against teams likely to make the NCAA field, these two opponents are not as good, so it would be completely reasonable to expect a tournament-caliber team to post blowouts Ws.
So, about that … if a 28-point win can be underwhelming, this one was. The Boilers played very well for long stretches, but balanced that with sequences of poor defense and stagnant offense. Yeah, they won easily and would have broken 100 if Painter cared to try, but they did it against a team that’s played just one opponent prior to this game in the top 100 - and they lost by 21. Despite what Andy Katz might think*, they’re a mediocre team trending toward bad, so take all the good things in this game with a pretzel-sized grain of salt.
*between arguing that the MAC wasn’t a mid-major and that Ohio had a winning tradition, he seemed very unfamiliar with part of a sport he’s been covering for 20 years
Three-point shooting: fully operational. Purdue hit 14 of 29, highlighted by Ryan Cline hitting 5 of 8. If Purdue is going to have any kind of offense in conference play, they’ll have to get 50+ points from guys not going to the NBA next season; Cline as the outside threat he’s supposed to be would go a good way toward making that happen.
Trevion Williams: 8 boards and 2 blocks in 12 minutes, plus 2 assists, one on a great over-the-shoulder pass (linked above) to Nojel Eastern after drawing a double-team in the post. The Good Guys desperately need inside help, and if Boudreaux can’t provide it (0-3 inside, 1 board in 15 minutes), maybe Williams can, although he almost certainly needs more seasoning to contribute … which is why giving him 12 minutes was a great thing to see.
Carsen Edwards, as usual. 6-7 inside, 4-9 outside, 6-7 at the line. 30 points, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, and 7 minutes of rest. Should probably have been more - again, note the margin of victory - but if Painter is leaving Boogie in longer to help boost his stats for NBA scouts, well, I certainly wouldn’t argue with that approach.
Eric Hunter Jr.: 19 minutes, 13 points, 4 assists, 0 turnovers for a 207 ORtg, highest on either team. Hunter missed one of seven shots (if we count his free throw, which I did) and provided a big spark during times when the starters weren’t all on the court, which earned him time with the 1s.
Ball control: 10 turnovers. Well done, Good Guys.
Nojel Eastern’s offense. He had a great steal and breakaway dunk, another dunk, and that pass from Williams. In 24 minutes, that was it. The announcers said that Painter wanted him to attack the basket more … honestly, I just don’t think that’s the kind of player he is. He’s a full-defense, transition-only kind of guy. That’s great in a lineup with Vincent, Dakota and Isaac alongside Carsen, but not so good this year.
Defensive letdowns. I don’t mean the last-minute three that got the deficit under 30, I mean the stretches that got it under 10. Ohio shoots the ball poorly (.489 eFG) but hit .483 in the first half, including .462 from deep. One good way to tell if a team is having problems is to look at the difference between their transition D and non-transition D; normally, there’s a good-sized gap (for example, Notre Dame’s eFG is .545 in transition and .465 in non-transition). Purdue’s eFG allowed in transition is .539, and in non-transition, it’s … .520. Last year, those numbers were .524 and .459 respectively.
That stuff, Nojel. Get that ball, take it to the rack.
After Christmas, Purdue hosts #81 Belmont, a team that was pretty good during the end of their time in the Atlantic Sun but now is more like a low-level Big Tenteen team, which is no small accomplishment for an Ohio Valley team. Rick Byrd has been the Bruins’ head coach since they moved up from NAIA to NCAA play in 1996 (in fact, he was hired at Belmont before my sophomore year at Purdue); he has 695 wins there. Number 696 will not come December 29 - kenpom has the Boilers as 11-point favorites.
Feature image courtesy of @BoilerBall on Twitter because what kind of pics are you expecting less than an hour after the game?