All Hands On Deck; Boilermakers Advance
(Photo credit: @Boilerball)
Purdue advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year and the fourth time under Matt Painter this afternoon with a 76-73 win over magical tournament program Butler today in Detroit. VIncent Edwards was great, Matt Haarms made us proud and it was all hands on deck for the Boilermakers. It’ll need to be that way for the rest of the run as it seems all but certain that Isaac Haas will not be able to play.
The morning started as I think we all knew it would -- with rumors circulating about Haas wanting to play, trying to play, suiting up, etc.
Then we saw the following:
I mean, without being to shoot with his shooting arm, it seemed like a long shot for Isaac to be of any value, but he clearly doesn’t want it to end...which is understandable. It turns out the claim is that the NCAA did not clear the elbow brace concoction they made up. There were conflicting reports on this so it makes you wonder a bit what was really going on. Haas was asked after the game if he would have played had the brace been approved and he said, “Maybe.” Without a doubt he’s not giving up and it’s fine with me if future opponents don’t know for sure what to prepare for.
B-dowd got right onto the postgame thoughts here:
In this game, the Boilers started slow -- a continuing trend of late, but an understandable one this time as Butler started the game on fire -- but got into their rhythm eventually and wound up with a halftime lead. Matt Haarms had really as good a first half as I think any reasonable Purdue fan could have expected as the Boilermakers went into the break with a four point lead. However, Vincent had two fouls relatively early, which was not something any of us were expecting to also have to deal with. Then he picked up his third with three seconds before the halftime horn, prompting many to wonder just why the hell he was in the game at that point.
In the second half, the game became the fight you expect from Butler in March. Purdue would inch ahead and Butler would whittle it down. Purdue ballooned the lead to ten at 61-51 with just over ten minutes to go on a slick layup by Nojel from Haarms (hello, 2018-19!)...but Butler chipped away. Then Purdue expanded it back to ten at 70-60 with 6:24 to play….but then Butler went on an 11-3 run to make this a 73-71 game with just under two to play and it began to feel like Purdue wouldn’t score again.
Carsen and Vincent alternated uncharacteristically bad turnovers late, but after Vince’s miscue, he went full LeBron in chasing it down and atoning:
Holy smokes, that was awesome. And that right there is Tournament Vincent. Or TV.
Purdue got the ball back after a Butler miss and a foul (Butler had one to give) and Purdue dialed up an old favorite -- the ol’ screen to free up a curling Dakota for a BOMBDAGGER with just 17 seconds to go, giving the Boilers a 76-71 lead. I know I wasn’t the only one who let out a yelp at that moment.
Purdue still let it be interesting because why the hell not? Butler scored a basket and fouled PJ with under 3 seconds to go. PJ needed to make the front end of a the 1 and 1 to seal it...and naturally Purdue’s best free throw shooter clanked it. So Butler rebounded and called time out with 1.8 to go.
Now, Matt Painter either learned from Houston’s mistake against Michigan last night or would have done this anyway, but he put Matt Haarms on the inbounder. (Incidentally, Haarms must look like an octopus playing defense in that situation.) Despite this, Butler inbounded and managed to get a clean look from just inside half court -- it was reminiscent of Gordon Hayward’s shot versus Duke in the 2010 title game as it barely missed….and Purdue survived and advanced. (Turns out, CBS says that shot would not have counted, so there’s that.)
What Went Well
Purdue knew it was going to be a team effort, next man up, whatever you want to call it. But I am choosing to go with all hands on deck, because it felt like everyone knew they’d be needed and this is one of those games where you love your favorite guys even more. Matt Haarms started and played 29 minutes, his most of the season (his most before today was also against Butler, with 27 back in December). He wound up just 1/3 from the foor, but grabbed six boards, had two blocks and a nifty assist. He went 5/8 from the line, so with seven points plus those other contributions, that’s about all anyone could ask from the freshman.
Vincent was Tournament Vincent, as noted, and is our unquestioned player of the game. He had 20 points on, get this, 6/8 from the field, 2/2 from deep and 6/6 from the line. He also had four rebounds, two assists, a steal and that one massive block. What a game. And he did much of it in foul trouble. That’s a senior, folks.
Scoring distribution was wonderful to behold -- four guys in double figures, nine guys scoring points. As I said, all hands on deck.
PJ is all the way back, baby! He scored 14 on efficient 6/9 shooting and his customary zero turnovers. That’s a senior, people.
Mathias played 37 minutes (most on the team) and while he wasn’t as good as he can be, he hit that absolutely clutch bomb to win the game. That’s a senior, friends.
The bench, as noted, chipped in as needed. My guy Jacquil played seven minutes and they were key minutes, spelling Haarms and contributing nicely. He had only one bucket but drew at least one foul I can remember, grabbed an aggressive board and just generally made me happy that he was in there. And that’s what I’m talking about with all hands on deck -- Jacquil has been stretching at the end of the bench all season. Now he’s needed and he’s ready to step in. Dammit, I love this team.
Purdue shot 50% from the field, so that’s good. And necessary, as Butler shot 49% and Kelan Martin poured in 29.
Matt Painter and he coaching staff did their jobs today. They played offense-defense on substitutions, did their best to use Haarms wisely, and as noted, used the bench well. The only demerit to us was having Vincent in the game late in the first half like they did. But overall, nice work, and now it excites us to think about them having four-plus days to gameplan for Texas Tech with this new version of Purdue.
What Went Not So Well
Carsen. It looked like maybe he was feeling the pressure of needing to be the hero with Isaac out. We love Carsen here at BS and so we’ll say hey, this sort of game happens. This is why you have seniors to pick you up. Carsen was an ugly 4/17 from the floor, 3/10 from deep and had a couple of turnovers with just 13 points. He’ll be fine.
Purdue’s inability to close things out. This seems to come back in a lot of big moments for Matt Painter teams. They led OSU by 14, MSU by 8 and now Butler by 10 in the second halves of those games. The inability to put the boot on the throat has always been an issue and continues to be a concern. Need some mean.
Purdue moves to 30-6 on the season. Thirty wins is rare. How rare? Purdue has never done it before. Keady won 29 twice and Painter did once before this season. So yes, this season continues to be special.
Purdue now moves on to the Sweet 16 in Boston on Friday. And their opponent is Texas Tech, whose coach is Chris Beard...who you all remember from Arkansas-Little Rock. Revenge game? Catharsis? There’s a lot on the line, not the least of which is Matt Painter’s first trip to the Elite Eight.
I loved everything about this team coming together. I don’t want it to end. I want these seniors -- and this whole combination -- to keep playing ball together. I’m sure they do, too.
Choo choo, muthas.