Carsen Quiet as Minnesota Drops Purdue in the BTT, 75-73
Feature image from @BoilerBall
Purdue lost to Minnesota for the second time in ten days; the last loss cost Purdue sole possession of the Big Ten regular season title, this time it cost Purdue a chance to advance for a Big Ten Tournament Championship.
Carsen Edwards was virtually invisible in the first half, finishing with only 11 points (and 6 turnovers) on 4/17 shooting and only 2 attempted free throws. Though the rest of Purdue’s roster was clicking for stretches, particularly Matt Haarms and Nojel Eastern, it wasn’t quite enough to slow down great games from Minnesota’s Jordan Murphy and Amir Coffey.
Minnesota’s two most important wins of the season are both against Purdue, and it seems like both of those wins will propel the Gophers off the NCAA Tournament bubble and safely in.
Meanwhile, Purdue is left with more questions than answers, which is an uncomfortably familiar position to be in as a Boilermaker fan in March. But instead of dismissing those concerns, or screaming like the world is falling apart (…about that……), let’s give both the positive and negative inner monologues of Purdue fans everywhere time to vent:
The Angel on Boiled Sports’ shoulder’s take:
Listen, something is clearly slowing Carsen’s production. Multiple reports alluded to a mild injury before this game, but it looks like after this loss Carsen’s talking openly about a tweaked back:
There’s no magic pill or stretch that can make a tweaked back instantly heal. Only rest, and hot/cold treatments at Purdue’s shiny athletic facility, can help. It’ll take time, and all of a sudden Carsen has a week to take it easy and find his shot.
Grady Eifert also looked a step slow, Haarms and Nojel played big minutes and will be key parts of a tournament run, and the team took a solid 12 minutes before they found any sort of rhythm on offense. A bit of rest, and a little bit of a sting after losing in the Big Ten Tourney opener might be the exact right combination to get this Purdue team up for a March Madness run.
And anyway, it’s not like last year, where we were looking for any tangible trophy or achievement to remember that wonderful team. Purdue just won the Big Ten regular season in a year everyone (including this author) counted them out, and has their Tourney ticket punched for a 3 seed (maybe a 4). That wasn’t changing to a 2-seed with a win today, so who cares about the Big Ten Tournament really?
The Devil on Boiled Sports’ shoulder’s take:
That Angel is always full of excuses, isn’t he?
There’s one thing he’s right about: the Big Ten Tournament didn’t really mean much after clinching a regular season conference championship. This team has done a remarkable job of winning against the odds…during the regular season.
But this loss is emblematic of every single March under Painter: Purdue suffers an injury to a key player, the Boilermakers fail to adjust, and losses are rationalized as bad luck.
In reality, Purdue looked out-of-sorts for most of the night, with brief barrages of points offsetting what should have been a bigger loss. Minnesota looked energized, and they played last night! Why would Purdue need rest when they’ve only played once in the past week?
The week off will just give Purdue fans time to come up with another reason for an early Tourney exit.
The Angel: Geez you’re a grump, aren’t you?
Again, and I can’t stress this enough: Who caaaares about the Big Ten Tournament? It would have been nice for the seniors, but if this loss gets the entire team energized for the real Tournament, isn’t it worth it?
And what does anything about Minnesota have to do with whether Purdue’s players need rest? Are they some sort of cloned teams with the exact same set of injuries and work loads and hopes and dreams? Are the a coincidental roster set of 13 twins that chose opposite schools, just to be studied like those twin astronauts working for NASA?
No, they’re two completely different teams, and Purdue has been a much more successful team over the year and Carsen has taken on significantly more of the burden than any Gopher player. He’s looked ready for a breather for the last three weeks, and he’ll finally have his chance. And all it cost Purdue was…a Big Ten Tournament semifinals appearance.
Chill, Purdue will still have a great seed in the Tourney and a favorable path to the second weekend. Oh, and did I mention that by that point Purdue could have a healthy and rested dynamic guard that can go off for 30+ points at the drop of a hat. And the best point guard defender in the country, and a beauty/beast rotation at center, and a deadeye shooter with a 28-foot range, and a few wonderfully athletic wings.
Painter has a great shot to disprove all of the hate hurled his way. Today’s loss doesn’t mean anything. Don’t be so grumpy.
The Devil: Nah I’m right and you’re still super annoying.
The Angel: Let’s agree to disagree over a bourbon and some fried fish.
The Devil: You’ve never sounded smarter. Let’s see who’s right in a week.
Player of the Game
On Purdue’s end, Nojel Eastern showed flashes of why he could become a real star on both ends of the floor next year, and an eventual pro.
But Jordan Murphy kept attacking the paint, getting (friendly) whistles, and hitting free throws without slowing down. As Purdue took a small lead with under 10 minutes left to play, after being down by double digits, Murphy relentlessly attacked the rim and refused to take any jumpers. That got him a handful of trips to the line (he didn’t miss), a few second-chance looks (8 rebounds), and a game-high 27 points on 10/19 shooting. It was frustrating to watch, but Murphy was Minnesota’s constant as Purdue’s centers were bodied.
Amir Coffey also had a hell of a dribble-drive game (21 points, 7/13 shooting). Not great.
Nojel Eastern’s…everything. This dude really might be both the best rebounding guard and the best point guard defender in the country, and he’s only scratched the surface. Offensively, he relies on put-backs off rebounds and off-ball cuts to the rim. But tonight, he showed flashes of his transition offense, was actively driving with the ball, and looked confident everywhere on the court. He’s gonna be a star next year.
Matt Haarms was the focal point of Purdue’s offense when things weren’t going well, and he was up to the task. 16 points on a very efficient 8/12 from the field, most of which were either in the post or in pick-and-rolls with Ryan Cline. Haarms hasn’t clicked into form until the last month, but right as Trevion Williams faded Haarms picked up the slack. Purdue’s center combination is as weird as it’s guard combination, but a wonderful kind of weird.
Trevion Williams showed glimmers of bursting from his February/March slump. Purdue spent most of the final ten minutes of the game with both Trevion and Haarms on the floor, and that combination got the stops needed for Purdue to take the lead. He didn’t convert all the easy looks at the rim, but this was a definite step in the right direction.
Ryan Cline ran the perimeter in Carsen’s absence and the numbers reflected it. 14 points on 5/11 shooting (4 threes) is pretty typical Cline fare, but 8 assists with only 1 turnover is pretty exceptional. A few of Cline’s missed threes were great, open looks, and I’ll roll with Cline’s averages on most nights.
AARON WHEELER was up to his all-caps behavior again today. An out-of-nowhere dunk after playing the passing lane, a made three to get Purdue out of its first-half funk. Wheeler is always fun.
Carsen’s back going into the tourney. C’mon, can the injury bug work in Purdue’s favor just once?
Déjà vu of March losses in tournaments giving all of us the heebie jeebies going into Selection Sunday. I dunno man one of these years Purdue will go undefeated.
Purdue’s three-point luck. Purdue’s got to lead the country in ridiculous-banked-in-threes-from-bad-shooters, and I have no idea what we did to deserve this from the Basketball Gods.
Let me begin by saying that Grady Eifert is a national treasure but tonight was a particularly bad night from him. Murphy and center Daniel Oturu were too strong for Eifert to handle tonight, and it’ll only get more difficult in the real Tournament.
Losing to Lil Pitino. I hate losing to ridiculous Minnesota head coaches.
The playcalling as Carsen was in his slump. I’m not convinced in Painter’s fully-developed “Break In Case Of Emergency” plan if Carsen’s slump extends to the opening game of the NCAA Tournament. But there were a few stretches where the Cline/Haarms pick-and-roll was emphasized, and a few great plays where Carsen drew an extra defender as an off-ball threat to open passing lanes. It’s hit and miss, but Painter can’t afford these 10-minute stretches where Purdue looks stumped to be on a basketball court.
Tweet of the Night