Boilers Bounce Back, Beat Illini 91-68
Starters: PJ Thompson, Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias, Vince Edwards, Caleb Swanigan
Finishers: Spike Albrecht, Tommy Luce, Grady Eifert, Jon McKeeman, Basil Smotherman
Feature image from @PurdueSports.
Purdue trailed 2-0 to start the game, then decided to be way way better than Illinois at the game of basketball, beating the Illini 91-68.
I know we shouldn’t be too praiseworthy when Purdue minces a clearly-inferior opponent at home, but after the Iowa debacle I’m done counting W’s before they’re played. (I know Iowa was on the road, but they just lost to Northwestern 89-54 so I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Purdue shouldn’t have lost).
Purdue was dominant from the opening tip, and judging by the box score I wouldn’t blame you if you thought our Boilers played a perfect game. But, honestly, they were pretty sloppy during the final seven minutes of the first half and let Illinois see a handful of wide-open three point looks due to missed rotations.
But…well, frankly, this seemed like an early nonconference game. Malcolm Hill had a pretty good game on the perimeter, Maverick Morgan had some beautiful moves on the block (and both might have an overseas future playing basketball for paychecks once the seniors finish this year), but nobody else could stay on the floor against Purdue tonight.
And hey, this might be a situation like the first Iowa game, where a frisky team with a few vets just has an off-night (and an awful gameplan). On that note – it really seemed like Groce had no idea what the offensive identity of Illinois should be. They would go successfully to Morgan in the post for a few possessions, then completely abandon any off-ball motion and just wait around for Purdue’s defense to get settled. Hill would take Purdue’s guards off the dribble, then wouldn’t touch the ball for a stretch. Defensively…well, take a look at the Player of the Night section to see how they defended Haas. I was a fan of the Groce hire a few years ago, but it just looked like Illinois was pretty lost on the court tonight.
The game was over when…
…Biggie hit a three trailing a fast break he set up with a rebound, 16:37 left in the game, extending Purdue’s lead 53-36. It might as well have been walk-on time after that.
Player of the Game:
Isaac Haas broke out his best Hulk impersonation, finishing with 24 points on 9-12 shooting, 6 rebounds, and a pair of assists in 22 minutes off the bench. Just like against Wisconsin, Illinois was only sending one defender at Haas, failed to crash down when he had the ball in the mid-post (like Iowa did), and let Haas get unbelievably deep post position. Basketball is pretty easy when a 14-foot tall redwood tree gets the ball inches from the bucket.
Runner up: Carsen “Buckets” Edwards remains perfect in my heart and almost-perfect on the floor. He spurred Purdue’s early run, kept the fast breaks energized, and only missed one shot. 14 points (6-7 from the field, 2-3 from three) is wonderful for the freshman who’s reinventing Purdue guard play.
By the way, Biggie Swanigan had 22 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes and he kind of had an off night. Just pen this kid into a First Team All-American forward slot right now.
- Purdue being ranked for 30 straight weeks, the longest streak in the Big Ten and the 7th longest active streak in the country.
- Getting Haas the ball when he’s on the low block. Haas’ struggles when his teammates set him up poorly, and Purdue ran some great sets (and Illinois never sent help) so Isaac could bully his way deep into the post. Even better, though, was Haas passing out and immediately reposting after getting the ball with poor positioning, a key sign that Haas was comfortable dominating tonight.
- BOOGIE EDWARDS GETTING BUCKETS. Seriously, this kid is why the full-court press doesn’t work against Purdue, why Purdue has a few “OMG” perimeter plays a night, and a main reason why Purdue isn’t synonymous with a plodding offense anymore. He’s wonderful.
- Top Gun night.
- Purdue’s solid wing defense. The combo of Vince(nt) Edwards and Dakota Mathias were fairly quiet offensively, but were extremely active on the defensive end and were major reasons for Illinois’ grueling halfcourt offense. Neither of them are Ray Davis, but they’ve both become key cogs in a very solid team defense (especially on nights like this).
- My Men In Black flashy pen thing I’m currently inventing and saving for the day before Biggie declares for the draft, because oh my word can you imagine this entire team coming back next year, woah boy I think I just lost consciousness there for a second I hope I ended this sentence a while ago because I might just stop writing this post to watch Biggie’s “off-night” 22 point, 10 rebound performance again woah boy time to pass out again bye.
- *wakes up* Swanigan is wonderful, but missed a few bunnies because of poor footwork. He was also exposed defensively on the block a few times by Morgan, but came back with a monstrous block in the second half so all’s forgiven.
- (I still don’t get why Spike gets normal rotation minutes but I’m not gonna go too hard on the guy.)
- My face when I gaze to the heavens and ask “WHY COULDN’T PURDUE PLAY LIKE THIS AGAINST IOWA” but then I convince myself they’ve got their one bad loss out of their system and won’t lose another game ever again.
Moving Picture Thingy of the Night:
So much to pick from. Is it Isaac doing his best LeBron impression?
Or is it Biggie demoralizing the entire state of Illinois in the post?
Or is it the play that had me waving a Rucker Park towel and yelling obscenities into a megaphone while the ladyfriend wondered whether my office had caught fire?
Yeah, it’s definitely that one.
Tweet of the night: