Old School Boilers Grind Out the Win: 62-60
Photo Credit: AP
Many people, myself included, thought that this year’s Purdue team needed to play at a faster tempo to find success…before actually seeing this team on the floor. Earlier tonight, Purdue slogged, fought and defended its way to their first win over a ranked foe in the young 2018-19 season.
Matt Painter’s Boilers have found the most success when they can defend. Tonight, Purdue’s defense helped them dig out of a self-created hole before sealing the game in agonizing fashion. It looked like Purdue might win by five points, but Mark Turgeon did a great job at simply extending the game. Check that, Turgeon, and a few official reviews made the last few minutes of the game last about twenty minutes in real time.
This team needed this win for a myriad of reasons, but the biggest one might have been to show them that they don’t need a super-human effort from Boogie to win games. He was only 4-15 tonight from the floor; not good by any measure…but he made plays down the stretch. I am sure, Edwards will have another 40 point game (or two) this season…but when he hovers around 15-20, and struggles a bit, they can still win, if a few things happen.
First, Edwards himself needs to treat possessions like gold in the closing minutes of close games. He had a turnover in the last minute, BUT he did not take ill-advised shots early in the shot clock nor miss FTs down the stretch. In fact, he hit two very important free throws, not unlike what he did his Freshman season in Maryland. Doing the little things will matter a lot to this team this season, for everybody, and it did tonight.
A key rebound by Eifert on the offensive glass, a steal by Stefanavich, an important three pointer by Haarms, a charge drawn by Boudreaux. It’s a team game…even when you have a pre-season All-American on the team…especially when you have a bunch of guys just trying to figure out how to play together.
Another formula for success this season, will be find your plus-one. Edwards will score points simply because of the volume of shots he takes. But, since there aren’t a ton of guys who naturally look for their shot on this squad, another guy needs to get some points. That might rotate, Cline, Wheeler, Boudreax…but somebody has to step up and make plays when double teams are happening.
Funny enough, Maryland wasn’t worried about Edwards in the closing minutes, they were worried about Wheeler. The RS Freshman, once-again made a ton of offensive noise…and was efficient in doing so. 15 points on 6-7 shooting. AND, he added two blocks. Defense is clearly where he needs a bit of improvement…I’m confident he’ll find it under this coaching staff’s tutelage.
Winning Ugly is Beautiful (for now)
Both teams shot horribly. Maryland took too many threes, when it seemed like much of their success came in the lane. Purdue, especially early took too many threes, and their two sharp-shooters (Cline and Edwards) combined for a 3-15 night from deep. This game wasn’t a thing of beauty, unless you’re one of the Boilermaker faithful.
Edwards finished with 20 points, but his two steals and 9-9 FT night were more important. Haarms was playing a pair of future NBA bigs, yet played one of his best games of the season. 10 points, 4-4 from the field (including a three pointer) and three blocks.
Purdue went 13-16 from the FT line, blocked seven shots and stole the ball eight times, took care of the ball in the second half. They looked pretty bad at times in the first half, but fought like hell in the second. If you can’t be good, be scrappy, be a pain in the other team’s ass, be relentless…I live by these principles.
Matt Painter-coached Purdue teams have now beaten Maryland five-straight times. In other words, Purdue defense puts the ‘D’ in domination.
Texas has fallen out of the top-25 after three-straight losses (one of them to Radford). UND hasn’t been able to crack the top-25, but has received votes. Yet, both teams look have looked like tournament teams, and both should be viewed as quality opponents by the committee come March. Purdue needs to win the next few games before re-entering the B1G meat grinder in 2019. Purdue will start the new year with games versus three-straight ranked conference foes…two of those contests will be on the road.
Next up, a weekend work trip to Austin, Texas…6:00p tip off on Sunday, on EsPN.