Magnificent Matt Leads Boilers Past Illini
(Photo Credit: Journal & Courier)
The Dynamic Duo of Haarms and Edwards led Purdue to a 73-56 victory in a nightcap BTN game earlier this evening. Purdue’s two scoring leaders combined for over 60% of Purdue’s points. The win helped Purdue keep its grip on a portion of the B1G lead as they took another step toward the post-season.
Illinois has lost a ton of games this season, and in the pre-con, they looked absolutely atrocious. But a month ago, they started playing a brand of basketball that puts a ton of pressure on the opposition and even more on officials. They play a scrappy, extended defense that causes a ton of turnovers, but also causes them to get into foul trouble. Tonight, the fouls mounted, their lack of depth and experience hurt them, and their lack of size crushed them.
For a chunk of the first half, Purdue was down by a handful of points and really didn’t get into any rhythm. Illinois disrupted Purdue as our Boilers did a bit to disrupt themselves. The first ten minutes of the game looked like the last three games- somewhat sloppy and with little offensive continuity. But after the half, Matt Haarms size gave Illinois fits, Boogie attacked the basket and Purdue’s defense gave Illinois no easy looks.
When Purdue plays unselfishly and attacks the basket, good things generally happen. Tonight, they only shot 15 three pointers as a team, and at the same time looked to backdoor Illinois whenever opportunity presented itself…that’s where Haarms feasted. He was shooting the highest of high percentage shots (7-footer dunks) and making things difficult on Illinois on the other end as well.
Check out this statline:
20 points. 10 rebounds. 5 blocked shots. 8/8 FGs. 4/4 FTs…and 1/1 from deep.
Not too shabby.
His pals Jelly Eastern (six assists) and Ryan Cline (seven assists) exploited Illinois’ aggressive defense. Eastern added 14 points and six rebounds. Cline grabbed 8 rebounds while going 0-4 from deep. Weird, right? It was an unconventional effort.
Edwards’ shot selection was better than it’s been in a few games as he decided to drive his way out of his slump. He finished with 23 points on 8/14 shooting. He turned the ball over a lot in the first half (six total TOs), but settled down quite a bit in the second half. Eastern and Edwards were the calming forces down the stretch of the game and simply helped Purdue cruise to victory in a game that was tied with under 10 minutes left.
Purdue took advantage of the size discrepancy between the two teams, as Purdue’s vets tasted blood in the water with Illinois’ Bezhanishvilli forced out of the game due to foul trouble. The strong finish was especially refreshing in the wake of the past two games that were ulcer-inducing and tough to watch at times.
Purdue improves to 21-7 (14-3) and will host aOSU on Saturday afternoon at 2:00.