Purdue Bests IU in 2017's First Bryant-Biggie Battle, 69-64

Purdue Bests IU in 2017's First Bryant-Biggie Battle, 69-64

Starters: PJ Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias, Vince Edwards, Caleb Swanigan
Finishers: PJ Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias, Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas

Feature image from the IndyStar.

Mad shouts to @bigtengeeks for all the GIFs


What happened?

Purdue didn’t let an NIT team beat them on the road, winning at Assembly Hall 69-64.

Pettiness will always win.

Our Boilers drove into Bloomington with every advantage possible: OG Anunoby is out, James Blackmon JR was hobbled, IU has been struggling to fill Yogi Ferrell’s void, and Purdue’s combination of size and shooting seemed to point towards a decisive Purdue victory. But if you’ve ever watched a Purdue-IU game…you know a game like this isn’t going to be a blowout.

Vegas favored Purdue by 2 points at Indiana; the last time Purdue was favored in Bloomington was in 2011 (JJ and E’twaun’s senior year). My thought going into the game: exploit the size advantage, pound IU all night with the two-big lineup, surround them with shooters, let Vince take over when Haas needs a breather.

Unfortunately, the trainers yet again forgot to pack Isaac Haas’ limbs for the 3 hour in-state road trip. Purdue got Haas a ton of great one-on-one looks at the rim early in the first half, but De’Ron Davis and Juwan Morgan somehow got under his skin and forced him into badly-balanced fadeaways. Haas went 1-6 in 10 first half minutes, which wasn’t ideal for Aneesh’s opening strategy.

The shooters didn’t help the floor spacing situation, going 3-11 from beyond the arc during the first half (on a lot of pretty good looks). Dakota Mathais, PJ Thompson, and Ryan Cline were held scoreless, and attempted a combined 4 shots. Combine that with Haas’ futility, and Caleb Swanigan going 2-6 from the floor, and you’d think Purdue dug themselves into a massive hole.

Enter: The Edwards’.

Vince and Carsen were incredible. It’s funny…when these two are aggressive, Purdue can somehow play a run-and-gun style with both Swanigan and Haas on the floor. Tonight was the first time all Big Ten season I’ve seen that odd combination of speed and size in one lineup (usually with PJ or Dakota), and I really hope Coach Painter tries this a few more times. Carsen clicking opens the gameplan up for the coaching staff.

Purdue was solid defensively, but allowed Blackmon and Robert Johnson to go on a mini-run to end the half with a 36-32 Hoosier lead. Both teams were making a ton of unforced mistakes, neither could capitalize, and what many thought would be a high-scoring 3-point shooting contest ended up being a sloppy sub-30% first half.

The second half, though…was exactly what we all were waiting for. Not the scoring, but the matchup. Thomas Bryant vs Biggie Swanigan.

They started to go at each other, even though both had 3 fouls for the final 10 minutes of play. Biggie showcased his strength in the post, bullying Bryant every time Purdue found a clean passing line. He even showcased his versatility, unleashing that baseline Dirk fadeaway we’ve been seeing since his Homestead High School days:

But, at the other end, Bryant had one of the best individual halves by any player this season. Bryant scored 17 of IU’s 28 second half points (on 6-8 shooting), showcasing his versatility that’ll have him surely drafted in the first round of the 2017 NBA draft.

With IU and Purdue both struggling to score out of the gate, he opened with this pick-and-pop:

The Biggie-Bryant battle went back and forth, with Bryant attacking Biggie in the post 15 seconds after Swanigan got back on the floor with 3 fouls:

Back and forth, Purdue and IU went to their 5-star big men, and they both delivered. The major difference: Purdue had the Edwards duo going, and Bryant got no Hoosier help in the second half. With 4 minutes left, Purdue went to Vince in the post, who unleashed a beautiful spin-move for an easy bucket. On the very next play, Carsen picked off an entry pass to Bryant and raced the court for a layup. (He missed the layup, but of course Vince was there on the follow-up.)

The most crucial basket of the night (in the GIF of the night below) was with just over 2 minutes left, Purdue up 2. Mathias (who was quiet all night) unleashed a contested three, missed, and looked to give IU a chance to take the lead. But PJ Thompson, in his moment of the night, came up with the rebound and uncontested layup to extend Purdue’s lead to 4. Bryant would answer with a gorgeous fadeaway, but Purdue kept the lead due to their “others”.

Blackmon’s 4 second half points was the closest anyone in cream came to producing alongside Bryant.


The game was over when…

…well, my heart exploded when this happened:

With 46 seconds left, Thomas Bryant (with 4 fouls) was isolated at the shoulder, put his shoulder down into Biggie Swanigan’s chest (with 4 fouls), drove to the basket, and………..a whistle blew. In the #B1GEST of moments, one ref called a charge, the other called a block. After 5 minutes of deliberation, they decided the best way to go would be to piss off everyone involved and call a double foul. Just like Rocky III, the first Biggie-Bryant 2017 battle ended with a freeze frame.

The Boilers and Hoosiers would trade free throws for the next 45 minutes, with Carsen (fittingly) at the line with Purdue up 3 and just around 20 seconds left to play.

I don’t have to tell you what happened next. You already knew Carsen put the game on ice, because that’s all Carsen does these days.


Player of the Game:

Vince Edwards was a star. My mans finished with 26 points on 8-11 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals in 33 minutes, and was the only reason Purdue kept up with IU during their first half runs.

Shoutout to Carsen Edwards for balling out during his first IU-Purdue experience. The Texan wasn’t afraid to attack the paint and terrorize passing lanes as Assembly Hall rained down boos, finishing with 13 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and a second straight game-sealing free throw on the road.

Biggie Watch: 16 points on 6-12 shooting, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, (5 turnovers and 5 fouls) in 29 minutes. This counts as an “average” statline, which is insane.


The Good:

  • Thomas Bryant. My word. I wish he wasn’t playing my favorite team tonight, because that second half was tremendous. He’s got length, just enough athleticism, finesse, footwork, and flair for the big moments. I don’t think I’ve seen him play better than that second half. I can’t wait until Biggie-Bryant II on February 28.
  • Vince Edwards IS BACK, after being basically dead and buried against Maryland, after BEING BACK against Northwestern. I really hope this is the Vince we see for the rest of the year. He won this game for Purdue, and just like anyone who wins at Assembly Hall we’re building him a statue immediately. Tell the Sterling Carter and Jon Octeus statues to move over.
  • Carsen Edwards is beautiful and fearless and game-changing for Purdue. Matt Painter hasn’t ever had a guard as explosive as Carsen, and man is it going to be exciting watching him dominate for 4 years.
  • Elizabeth Edwards, Carl Edwards, Herm Edwards, Edward Norton, Edward James Olmos, shoutout to all the Edwards out there.
  • The intensity of the IU-Purdue Rivalry.

GTFOH Tobacco Road.


The Bad:

  • Isaac Haas. Woo boy, did Bad Haas show up tonight. He’s got to set up closer to the rim, and has to stop taking fadeways. He’s 7’2”. He doesn’t need to fade away unless Kristaps Porzingis is guarding him on the block. Get low, bully down to the block, and go up strong.
  • B1G refs calling a freaking double foul, sending both All American-caliber players to the bench at the same time. It was a cop-out call.
  • The disappearance of Dakota Mathais and Ryan Cline.


The Ugly:

  • Listen, Spike is wonderful to have on the team because he’s generally smart, knows his limits, and on an otherwise-thin roster allows Purdue wings to catch their breath in the middle of the first half. But woah boy is he an adventure to watch. Spike had a fantastic drive-and-kick for an open Carsen three in the second half that helped keep Purdue in the game as Thomas Bryant exploded. He also passed up/badly missed several wide open (and desperately needed) three point looks. He was actually pretty solid defensively tonight. He also almost dove into the stands for a loose ball, and I’m glad he thought better of it at the last second because I was convinced he’d break a hip.
  • IU’s guard play. Woo boy is IU gonna be bad next year, if they lose Bryant, OG, and Blackmon.
  • Color announcing of Dickie V. I’m not putting it in the “bad” category because my audio feed actually went out for 45 seconds late in the second half, and it was bliss, so thank you Dickie V for allowing me to enjoy that moment of happiness.


Moving Picture Thingy of the Night:

I would die for PJ Thompson.


Tom Crean Is So Weird He Gets His Own Section:


Tweet of the night:

Also, from yesterday:

Haas rips out Rutgers' heart...and steals ours

Haas rips out Rutgers' heart...and steals ours

Purdue Basketball Beat #46: IU Preview with IndyStar's Zach Osterman

Purdue Basketball Beat #46: IU Preview with IndyStar's Zach Osterman