Boilers Out-Gopher Gophers In 73-69 Loss
In West Lafayette, Carsen Edwards was 6 for 20 from the field, 1 from 9 for three. It didn’t matter then.
Tonight, he was 7 for 31 from the field, 3 for 15 from three, 5 for 8 from the line.
All of it mattered.
To be sure, it mattered much less than in February, because this Boiler team knows they can still win a share of the title by beating Northwestern in Evanston, whereas that team couldn’t be sure where they’d end up. But if you wanted to see a preview of how this Purdue team will be bounced from the NCAA tournament, you got it.
They probably won’t lose to a team that shoots as poorly as Minnesota does - as mentioned before, the Gophers rely almost entirely on transition and drawing fouls - but then again, they also won’t be playing a shorthanded team like Minnesota either. With Eric Curry out for the year (again - rough break for that guy), it would have made sense for Purdue to attack the basket and try to get the hosts in foul trouble.
What they did instead was fire a lot of bad shots. Purdue hit just 10 of 33 in the first half en route to a 10-point deficit, and worse, they missed 5 of 8 free throws. (THIS IS WHAT THEY CALL FORESHADOWING.) Granted, Nojel Eastern also took an elbow to the face on a play that wasn’t called a flagrant foul, but you know, those rules are just in the books for show, they don’t actually matter on the court.
Anyway, things turned around for a bit in the second half, as the Good Guys hit 8 for 17 from distance. They still missed free throws - 4 of 10, putting them at an even .500 for the game (9 for 18). And the fouls kept coming. Trevion Williams drew 4 fouls in 3 minutes. Evan Boudreaux got an obvious hook-and-hold in 4 minutes of game time.
But the worst part was the Boogie Slump. It wasn’t so much that he wasn’t hitting, but that he kept shooting, partly because that’s how you get out of a slump, and partly because Purdue was doing that stupid old thing where nobody gets open and then they look to Carsen to bail them out. Uh … and partly because Carsen was playing one-on-five a little too much. There were multiple times where Carsen fired way early in the shot clock and missed; I thought he should have run the offense or at least waited for some rebounding help, especially given how well most of his teammates were shooting.
But he didn’t, and that’s that. It played out like one team desperately needed a win (Bracket Matrix had Minnesota as an 11 seed, which is not far off the bubble) and one did not. Purdue will almost certainly be a 3 seed regardless of how the season plays out; if they run the table in Chicago they might steal a 2 from the weaker of UM/MSU, but even that might not happen, and anything less won’t change their fate.
Grady Eifert. 5 for 6 from the field, 3 for 4 from deep, a team-high and game-high-tying 14 rebounds, 5 on the offensive glass, plus 3 assists. He is where he is largely because he defers on offense, but this is one game where maybe he deferred a bit much.
Nojel Eastern. 5 for 9 from two plus 5 offensive and 5 defensive boards to join Grady in the double-double group. He ended up with 5 of a kind, adding 5 assists and 5 fouls to his hand - at least 3 were of the touch-foul kind, but then a couple of those happened because he was way too close to his man. Do not help the refs out, young sir. Still, he had the dunk embedded above, so I guess that was OK.
Ryan Cline. You know who should have been shooting more? This guy. 6 for 9 from three, missed one two-point shot where he probably got fouled anyway. He had consecutive threes on a three-Eastern steal-three sequence that cut the Gopher lead to 3 with three minutes to play; oh, what could have been.
Evan Boudreaux being put in a situation he’s not built for. He doesn’t match up well with any of Minnesota’s bigs and looked every bit the part. Still, with Williams in foul trouble, someone had to go out there.
Painter’s lack of change in the first half as the offense ground to a halt, endlessly cycling passes before missing an outside shot when it was obvious the refs were calling anything on a drive. Instead of getting the Gophers in foul trouble, Purdue gave them transition. That changed in the second half, but not quickly enough. He also waited too long IME to go to a two-big lineup; that lasted one possession, when Williams picked up a foul and had to sit down again.
Minnesota’s style of play. Yes, Wisconsin is worse, but at least they can shoot from outside. The Gophers shot 36 FTs, the game ran more than 10 minutes past its time slot, and the fans rushed the floor at the end because they knew they’d never have to watch this team again. (Or maybe because they upset a ranked team, you be the judge.)
A very smart, very good basketball player forcing up 31 shots on a night when he was nowhere near his best. Sidearm had his offensive efficiency at -2, matching Trevion. (Eifert led Purdue at 28.) You got three teammates shooting better than 50%, man. You need to take fewer shots. Let them carry you for once.
9 for 18 from the line in a game where they were actually within two with five seconds to play. Eifert made a hustle play and knocked the ball out off Coffey, only it was hard to tell if that actually happened, and since the refs naturally called it Minnesota’s ball to begin with you knew how it was going to end up. (In fairness, as on Twitter I will again bring up the Michigan game in Ann Arbor last year. Replay is not supposed to be used to zoom in frame-by-frame to determine that this piece of fabric deflected that atom of the ball; it’s supposed to correct obviously-wrong calls. That one was not obviously wrong.) Make more FTs and the game plays out very differently.
Minnesota’s lack of crowd control. The students want to rush the floor? I guess, whatever, let them do that. But get the visiting team (and the refs) off the floor safely first. Expect some sort of feeble apology, if anything, from the Minnesota AD tomorrow and absolutely nothing from Mr. $20M Golden Parachute.
Northwestern, in Evanston. Fortunately, the Chris Collins era appears to be nearing its end, or at least it would if the AD spent more time watching his teams and less time preparing to succeed Jim Delany as The Guy Who Didn’t Hit An Iceberg Yet. Purdue should join the Michigan/Michigan State winner at 16-4 and get the #2 seed in Chicago since they lose tiebreakers against Michigan (head-to-head) and Michigan State (results against Michigan since head-to-head was 1-1). A loss means they’re the #3 for the same reasons.
After that, it’s wait-and-see time. The #2 faces the #7/#10 winner, which would currently be Minnesota or Rutger. #3 plays the winner of #6 and #11/#14, which are Iowa, Indiana and Northwestern. Ugh. I guess we’re rooting for Ohio State to finish strong and regain 7th place, then for them to beat Rutger. Assuming Purdue wins on Saturday, that is. Then it’s tournament time. Did you know Villanova is currently projected to be a 6 seed? Fun times.
No video recap. Just stats. We don’t want to see any more of this game, right?
Feature photo courtesy of Good Free Photos