Haas & The Edwards’ Lead Purdue to 16th Straight Win, Beating Michigan 92-88
Feature image from @Boilerball
Starters: PJ Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias, Vince(nt) Edwards, Isaac Haas
Finishers: PJ Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Ryan Cline, Dakota Mathias, Vince(nt) Edwards
Purdue and Michigan lit worlds on fire with their second half offenses, but Haas and the Law Firm of Edwards & Edwards led the #3-ranked Boilermakers to a 92-88 win in a deafening Mackey Arena. Purdue is now 20-2 on the season.
16 straight wins, 63 days. Whew.
This team is special.
The first time I truly, honestly had that thought – that this Purdue team was a truly special bunch – was the last game against Michigan. Purdue was on the road in front of a rowdy crowd, against a team that should have been ranked inside the top 25, with two players (Mo Wagner, Mohammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman) that constantly kill Purdue. The Boilers gave up a huge halftime lead, and that night looked like a rough, but understandable, Big Ten road loss; it’s really hard to stop a good home team with that much momentum.
A normal Purdue team would have been shook. This Purdue team calmly took Michigan’s counterpunch, stood back up, made every single play necessary, and brought home the 1-point win.
A normal Purdue team would have caved that night. Instead, this team began to look special.
Tonight’s rematch in Mackey had me oddly relaxed. Over the last two weeks, Michigan notched a well-deserved win at Michigan State, but almost dropped one at home versus Maryland before losing at Nebraska (now 15-8). After sinking 20 three-pointers at Iowa, Purdue seemed to be on an invulnerable streak, and I thought a statement blowout win was in store.
Yeah, Michigan ain’t ever lying down for Purdue.
Just like the last game versus Michigan, Purdue went constantly to Isaac Haas to open the game (4 of their first 5 shots), and Haas delivered. Haas dominated Wagner over the game’s first 12 minutes, going 6/7 from the field on five left-shoulder hooks and one pick and roll jam. Vince was in full attack mode as well, combining with Haas to score Purdue’s first 19 points.
But, in what would prove to be an omen of things to come, Michigan was keeping Purdue’s lead to single-digits by drilling jumper after jumper. John Beilein-era Michigan offenses always pack a punch, and Purdue began to get off-balance late in the second half.
Purdue’s centers, in particular, were out of position defending Michigan’s pick-and-rolls. Haas and Haarms were caught in no-man’s land too often, a step too far from pressuring the ballhandler and way out of position to recover on the screener. This left a wide-open big man in the lane, and the weakside defenders (usually PJ Thompson or Dakota Mathias) would have to leave their man to stop an easy layup. This led to easy passes to wide-open three point shooters, propping up Michigan’s offense going into the second half.
And oh my goodness what a second half.
That’s not a typo. In a half that almost defies description, Purdue and Michigan traded improbable baskets at a frequency that had everyone watching dizzy. This really felt like a March Madness game, where the magic of the tourney gives offenses out-of-body experiences on the biggest stage. Except, it was a late-January Thursday and none of us were remotely ready for this kind of stress.
Haas and Vince continued to be Purdue’s backbone, but Carsen Edwards gave Purdue legs. Carsen, who should be in every B10 POY and NPOY conversation but is unbelievably omitted, was leading every break, hitting threes with multiple hands in his face, and facilitating an offense that got gorgeous looks for Vince, Haas, and Dakota Mathias (who woke up in the second half). Carsen’s stat line (13 points on 4/9 shooting, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 5 turnovers) belies another great game from the Boiler guard.
But despite Carsen’s best defensive efforts, Mohammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman was absolutely unconscious. MAAR’s second half was blistering, scoring 19 points on 7/9 shooting (5/6 from three). Mo Wagner and Zavier Simpson chipped in to fuel Michigan’s 52-point half, mostly coming from “no freaking way” shots dropping constantly.
This was a special offensive performance by the Wolverines, and it took a special Purdue team to take the counterpunch, stand up, and make every single play necessary to put up a 51-point half of their own and seal the win.
The game was over when…
This came right after a brilliant Beilein baseline out-of-bounds play got Michigan a wide-open jumper, cutting Purdue’s lead to 4 points with 45 seconds left. A layup here would have made it a one-possession game, and with both offenses destroying worlds it’s not a position I would have enjoyed. But Carsen’s block stopped an easy Wolverine layup, Simpson would go on to miss two free throws, and Vince and PJ iced the game from the line.
Player of the Game:
Isaac Haas had the best game of his Purdue career, finishing with 24 points (10/14 shooting), 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 assists in 20 minutes. That’s right, twenty minutes. Haas’ footwork was tremendous, he dominated Wagner for position on the block, and (more impressively) made a few quick passes out of the post that gave me Caleb Swanigan flashbacks. An incredible night for Haas, well deserved after his last few games doing the dirty work with little payoff on the statsheet. Haas will be an NBA prospect, and a probable second round pick, because 7-footers just aren’t built like Isaac, and this game should be the first thing that appears on any scouting tape.
But this is a post written by me, Aneesh, Driver of the Vince Edwards Bandwagon, and can’t let a career high 30 point night slip by without mention. Similar to Haas, Vince will be on NBA draft boards, and tonight he put forward the superstar performance Purdue needs if a B10 Championship repeat and a National Title run are in its future. 30 points (9/11 shooting, 3/3 from 3), 9/10 from the free throw line, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal, while playing 39 minutes in this fast-paced game? Vince’s Swiss-Army performance tonight, along with his 6’8” frame, shows that he’s a perfect fit for the modern NBA. Superstar Vince was in full display in Mackey tonight, and the bandwagon was happy.
- The second half, for people who love bucket-getting. (Read: it me). The unbelievable pace and shot making was among the most entertaining games of the year so far.
- Purdue having a real case as the best team in the country, particularly after Villanova lost Phil Booth. What a world.
- Isaac freaking Haas, particularly his footwork and positioning. Talked about him in the Player of the Game section, but worth repeating here – a career night from the big fella, and the game that should lead his NBA draft file.
- Superstar Vince Edwards, who had a “B10 POY” statement night.
- Dakota Mathias’ second half, after a very quiet first. His shot was off early in the game, but Dakota would finish with 3 threes and his third-straight 5 assist game. Best “role player” in the country.
- Matt Painter and John Beilein coaching battles, which have been supremely entertaining for years.
- Rece Davis and Robbie Hummel calling the game.
- Anyone who already gave the B10 POY to Keita Bates-Diop. The Edwards' have a bone to pick with you. (Side note: Edwards’es? I don't like Edwardii, and Edwardses seems like something Gollum would say. The plural of "Edwards" will remain one of life's mysteries.)
- The morale of each defense, despite some crisp defensive closeouts in the second half by both teams. This game is about getting buckets, and both offenses were en fuego.
- Somehow Matt Haarms’ jersey was torn at halftime, and he ended up wearing a blank-named #34 jersey in the second half. I wanted to include this but had no idea where so it gets to be in this section.
- Defensive breakdowns whenever guards get into the paint. Michigan would kick out to wide open shooters, and felt like trying to defend Purdue’s offense.
Moving Picture Thingy of the Night:
My favorite law firm, Edwards & Edwards.
Tweet(s) of the night: