What. One game. The No. 2-ranked Purdue Boilermakers survived an Iowa scare Friday night by a score of 77-70.
Tonight there has to be some of the craziest Purdue basketball games, winners or losers, of all time. Purdue fans might not want to hear that, but it was one hell of a game the Boilermakers needed to do it all, but they confirmed they would become the nation’s No.1 team on Monday at noon.
Fans should have known better than to think Purdue was going to sweep over all opponents, especially those as good as Iowa. Everyone knew the Boilermakers were going to have games like this, but the most important thing was that they were victorious.
Iowa entered the game 7-0, after a big win over Virginia, and had nothing to lose. The Hawkeyes just weren’t able to pull off the Spoilermakers’ magic tonight, what a shame.
There will be a lot of talk tonight, including Eric Hunter Jr’s late-game turnovers and the team’s inability to beat the Hawkeyes press. That Iowa press was very different from the one Purdue saw earlier this week against Florida State, which still scored them 93 points.
It seemed to me that Matt Painter hadn’t given his guards or wings any instructions on how to beat the press after four consecutive terrible possessions. You have to give Painter the benefit of the doubt, but they’ll insist on it non-stop in training ahead of their game against Rutgers next Thursday.
That Iowa press was very different from the one Purdue saw earlier this week against Florida State, which still scored them 93 points.
After the things Mason Gillis had been going through this offseason, getting his spot taken by Caleb Furst and being forced to return to his role, he was the driving force behind the Boilermakers victory tonight. The sophomore redshirt scored 12 points on just 2-3 shots, but had a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. He offered jump-offs, key rebounds and a defense that Purdue desperately needed. It was one of the most important performances for the Boilermakers in this short season.
Before things fell apart, it looked like Jaden Ivey was going to pick up the series once again. Ivey continued his stellar game with 19 points on 7-13 shots, but more importantly, his trio of monster dunks in the second half blew up the roof of Mackey Arena. It looked like the Boilermakers were going to run away with this one before Rick Mount Night’s near collapse.
Senior center Trevion Williams stepped up his efforts at both ends of the pitch tonight with Edey limited to 16 minutes tonight. There are some games where Trevion’s style will fare better than Edey’s and vice versa, this was clearly one of those nights. Williams posted a 13-point line on a poor 4-12 shooting performance, but added 18 rebounds and 3 assists. As Gillis will get his well-deserved shine, I think Trevion was instrumental in the victory as well.
It was just a tough game for Purdue with Edey having his toughest game of the season, Caleb Furst not having much of an impact offensively and the shooters not being able to chain a few shots together. While not pretty, it is the type of game that Purdue can learn very valuable lessons from while coming out with a win.
Watch the movie tomorrow, correct the mistakes and move on. That’s all you can do at this point, and Matt Painter will have his guys ready to go next time.
Prior to that, the Boilermakers will move up to first place in the AP Top 25 poll on Monday as Ohio State upset Duke while Purdue went about business with a 2-0 record this week. For the first time in the school’s history, Purdue Men’s Basketball will be the best team in the country. When you complain about the mistakes tonight, remember this.
Next time around, the Boilermakers face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Rutgers have struggled mightily this season going just 4-4 and losses to UMass, Lafayette, DePaul and Illinois. These are uninspiring results, to say the least. The game will take place on Thursday, December 9 at 7:00 p.m. in New Jersey.