Boilers Pick Up Value Win at OSU, 79-67
Hey look, it’s a time traveler from December, coming here to see what the future holds! Let’s entertain them for a while.
Tonight, the Boilers rebounded from a slow start to pick up their second straight road win, a feat they hadn’t accomplished in nearly a year. The win helped Purdue extend their run to 7-1 and keep pace with Big Tenteen leaders Michigan State, as the Good Guys sit at 6-2, just a half-game behind Maryland and one back of Michigan, moving to 13-6 on the year … wait, are they OK? The time traveler passed out. Huh, that’s funny, it was right when I was talking about the wins … oh right.
A reasonable person would have looked at that 6-5 record, the loss to Notre Dame, the close win over an average Maryland team and the beatdown in Ann Arbor, and written off the season. Yeah, it’s a transition year, Painter lost a lot of talent, maybe next year.
Instead, the Boilers used that loss in Indianapolis as a springboard. With Williams moving into the starting lineup and Wheeler providing key minutes off the bench, suddenly the bench guys Purdue was starting are effectively bench guys too, and Painter is rolling out a roster that goes 10 deep, a luxury he hasn’t had since the AJ-Haas-Biggie season. Maryland turned out to be a pretty good team (if Painter doesn’t get BTCoY, Turgeon’s likely the one stealing his votes), and Michigan’s 18 and Wisconsin officiating, so the ND game is really the only inexplicable one. (ND is 1-5 in the ACC. woo?)
Apparently Ohio State doesn’t spend any of their nine-figure athletic department budget on live stats, so I had to hit two other sites before I found one with a detailed box score, and since Jim Delany always gets the worst deal possible for the conference, I actually had to stop the Fox Sports box score while it was loading so it would leave minutes played on the page. (Seriously! Who the hell hides that stuff? Maybe next time go with a network that understands how to cover something other than the NFL.) Yeah, Boudreaux only played 2 minutes, but he’s just getting back to 100%; everyone else played at least 8 minutes in a game that was oddly still contested until very late, in large part because “officials” but also because, well, road conference games are not that easy to win. Home teams were 35-19 before today’s conference games, and you don’t have to go very far to find teams that would love to have back-to-back road wins. (Coincidentally, IU last managed that in February 2018, beating Iowa and Rutgers. Purdue’s wins last year were over Indiana … and Rutgers. Thanks, Delany!)
Anyway, enough about that clown. To the categories!
The initial burst. Four minutes into the game, Purdue was down 6-0, four different Boilers had missed threes, and it was looking like I should have been watching the Pacers instead. (Hey, I was at Scotty’s, they had both games on, it’s OK.) Of course after that happened, I was glad I was watching the Purdue game instead. What’s that? It happened at halftime of the Purdue game? Sshhhh. I have the mic, this is my story. The Good Guys fell behind 17-8 just inside 11 minutes to play in the half … and then it was 30-18 and everything was all right. A 22-1 run is great if you do it at home; on the road, down early, it’s amazing.
Free throws. Purdue: 21-25, 84%. Edwards 11 for 13, Eastern 1 for 1, Williams 2 for 3. If you hit 20+ free throws in a game, you’re in a good place.
Threes. Purdue: 12-24, 50%. Eifert 3 for 4, Cline 3 for 5, Boogie 4 for 9. As J Money pointed out in BS Chat, suddenly they can just rain threes. Enough guys can hit now that defenses are getting burned when they double Carsen, and if they cover the perimeter then Haarms or Williams or Eastern or someone else will head to the rim, and even Big Tenteen refs will call fouls on some of those drives. (Just ask Chris Holtmann.)
Post play. WIlliams 4 for 5 (from two), Haarms 2 for 2. Bigs gonna eat. Trevion didn’t have a monster rebounding night, but it’s hard to get rebounds when both teams are basically hitting half their shots … and he still got 3 offensive boards, the most on either team. (But none on the defensive glass.)
Quick hands. 8 steals, 18 OSU turnovers. Time and again, the Buckeyes would throw a lazy pass or not come to the ball or do something else odd, and the Boilers would be off to the races. I had to crib from Nathan Baird’s screenshot to get that the Good Guys had just 9 fast break points to 13 for the hosts, but those steals took away a lot of OSU possessions, and that’s good too.
Ohio State’s moment of silence for Tyler Trent. Cancer sucks, yo.
Various hustle plays. While not all of them worked out - on one in particular, Eifert nearly knocked a loose ball off an OSU player out of bounds as he was falling down, only to get hit on or near the head with it by one of the Davisons (I’m pretty sure one plays on every other team in the conference), who had his teammates celebrating like they’d just won the CBI - but others kept the ball in play and gave Purdue another chance to hang onto their lead, which they did for the last 27 minutes.
Carsen’s decision-making, again. 4 assists, 7 turnovers, several of them on plays where he made up his mind to drive no matter how many Buckeyes were in front of him. Add those turnovers to his 2 for 7 performance inside the arc, and it’s fair to suggest that he should have been kicking that ball out more often, especially given how his teammates were shooting (non-Boogie players were 8 for 15 from three). I think some of this is the residual effect of the first couple of months, when he really did have to take that many shots. I’d like to see a few more opportunities shared with his teammates - let’s find out how much they can handle before we get to single-elimination play.
Zebras, naturally. A play would be a defensive foul on one drive, an offensive foul on another, and no call on a third. What’s the cliche, we don’t care how you call it as long as you call it the same on both ends? Don’t forget the word “same” there, refs. Holtmann didn’t get the home cooking he wanted (and seriously, why would you earn a T in a game that you figure will be close?), but both coaches spent a good bit of time jawing at the Striped Team, and I don’t blame them.
Uh … Nojel’s offense, maybe? 1 for 5, 2 assists, 3 turnovers … but when the other starters combine for 59 points I think it balances things out when you allow .773 PPP on defense. (Wheeler is down to .662, in case you wondered why a guy with sometimes-minimal offensive contributions is getting more minutes. You shouldn’t though - we’re all glad that Painter is rewarding him and Williams for what we’ve seen them do recently.)
It wasn’t a pretty win at times, but it was the sixth double-digit win in that 7-1 run, and that’s something. Analytics love these games, and while they may not represent the true skill level of the team (is Purdue a 2 seed? right now, hahano), they seem oddly more accurate than you’d expect, since those algorithms generally don’t catch on to things like lineup changes. Did Purdue just need 2-3 freshmen to step up to change from a bubble team to a protected seed? We might not find out for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, let’s take another quick look at a couple of things Carsen did do right - don’t worry, there were a ton of them, we just have high expectations for this guy. (P.S. Eifert is shooting .436 from three, .500 against A+B competition, .615 against A competition, and teams still leave him open. Ha ha!)
Tom Izzo, the long-time champion of the I Can’t Believe That You Call Fouls In This Game face, brings an unfortunately solid team to Mackey on Sunday. The Spartans are favored in each of their 12 remaining games, and while the computers peg them to finish 17-3 or so, those are likely to be the game at Michigan and … oh. Actually, Sunday’s game is the next most likely loss for MSU. Purdue has Maryland and Wisconsin wins sitting in their resume pockets, but taking down the conference leader would do wonders for their seeding … and a loss, as long as it’s reasonably close, doesn’t really hurt them that much. 15-7 going into the Nebraska and Maryland games would be great … but 16-6 would be nicer, wouldn’t it?
Feature photo, uncredited, courtesy of Purdue Sports. Hey, it’s a road game, did you go and take pictures? Me neither.