Rants, ravings, and somewhat sensical opinions following the wild, wacky, and wide-wide world of Purdue sports
As of the writing of this article, it is the annual NFL Pro-Bowl. For those of you who are unfamiliar, played every year in the off week prior to the Super Bowl, this weekend is a showcase of the NFL’s best players. Essentially the “All Star” game for the NFL.
Most say this game is pointless, and shouldn’t be played any longer. I have no feeling, either way, to be honest. The real action comes next week with the Super Bowl. That is when passions really rise, when it just means more.
As for Basketball… It was just a regular season game. It was a one sided rivalry. Big Brother vs Little Brother… But for one of Purdue’s opponents, this week was their Super Bowl.
Penn State 60, #1 Purdue 80: Post game, Micah Shrewsbury left this way, saying “Best team in the country. Best player in the country. Best Coach in the country.” The Boilermakers stomped the Nittany Lions starting about 8 minutes into the game, and not letting up until it was over. Zach Edey was his normal self, scoring 18 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, but he was far from being the player of the game. That honor goes to hot shooting Mason Gillis, who made 9 threes, scoring 29 points, and setting the Mackey Arena record for most 3s made in a game. Gillis was red-hot, and the Boilers cruised.
Penn St Photo Gallery (Mark Elsner): https://snapsbyme.smugmug.com/Purdue-Mens-Basketball/22-23/PennState/
#1 Purdue 74, #21 Indiana 79: Boilers lost this game in the first half, when they couldn’t withstand the fierce defense and hot shooting of the Hoosiers. The worst half of play from Purdue all season, coupled with a particularly impressive half by Indiana, combined for the Boilermakers to be down 15 at half. A more “on brand” Boilermaker second half followed, but Purdue could only trim 10 points off of the lead. Bookended by two great big men on each side of the court, Zach Edey and Trayce Jackson-Davis battled. Zach Edey won statistically with 33 points and 18 rebounds, but Jackson-Davis won the battle with the Hoosier victory.
Break It Down:
Playing a team like IU, as their Super Bowl is a tough thing to do. Ass Hall has a strange voodoo about it, where the Hoosiers play like stars 2-3 times per season. The momentum swings are violent. Officials get caught up in the excitement, as Big Ten referees enjoy a party. When IU plays like they did in the first half, ain’t nobody going to catch them.
I have to give props to the Hoosiers. This is a momentous, program building win for the plucky young Indiana squad. Lest we forget, only a few weeks ago their own fans were writing hate-letters to the team. The turn around has been striking. Now, when they’re not throwing half eaten food at Purdue’s timeout huddle, they’re rushing the floor. Fun fact: IUBB has rushed the floor 100% of the time that they have beaten Purdue over the past 5 years… even this time as 1.5 point favorites.
As for Purdue, this is your classic “screw” around and find out game. The Boilermakers played an uncharacteristically poor first half, melting down under the IU adrenaline. They turned the ball over regularly, didn’t play good defense, and lost their composure on the road. While they played better in the second half, the hole dug in the first was far too deep to get out of. Silver lining, nobody was struck by falling ceiling-garbage or sheet metal hurdling down to the earth from the rafters of Ass Hall. #MarkedSafeFromFallingCeilingGarbage.
I have digressed. Maybe this loss is exactly what Purdue needed to recalibrate and focus. Only time will tell, but this team responded well following the Rutgers loss. They still have the best record in the nation, at 22-2, and very well might retain as the #1 team in the nation despite the loss. Regardless, losses like this sting, as they should.
What Went Well:
- Zach Edey, Boilermaker: Despite the loss, Zach Edey’s performance against IU shut any doors of “Trayce Jackson Davis is actually the Big Ten Player of the Year” talks. Edey out scored him by 8 points and out rebounded him by 11. More impressive than his 33 & 18 performance was how he carried himself in the post game press conference. Braden Smith was being asked about a costly turnover late in the game, and Edey stole the mic, saying that there were costly turnovers throughout the game, from multiple people, not just Braden’s late. That is what a leader does.
- Nine-Nine Bust a Rhyme: The nine threes hit by Mason Gillis against Penn State is an incredible feat. Even better is the macro statement which it makes. Every player on this (or any) Purdue roster will have their opportunities to succeed. This season, the Boilermaker bench players have really brought it, and this is another example.
- 45.2%: Three point shooting percentage against Penn State. Purdue’s percentage continues to climb following the dismal December.
Opportunities for Improvement:
- 16: Turnovers against IU, the majority of which were in the first half. Five point loss. Sixteen is a huge number for this squad, and many of these turnovers were unforced. They were simply Purdue getting rattled under pressure. Many pundits believe that the only way that Purdue loses this game is if they beat themselves. 16 turnovers sounds quite a bit like that.
- 7: Missed free throws in a 5 point loss. These players are not -trying- to miss free throws, but the early struggles from the line were the difference in the game.
- 2.5: Purdue’s lead in the Big Ten has fallen to 2.5 as of the writing of this article. While it is impressive that Purdue has a multi-game lead on the rest of the league, that first number used to be a 3. Need to keep the pressure up to win the league.
Big Man on Campus:
Zach Edey continues to dominate the competition. This week he scored 51 points and hauled down 31 rebounds in two contests. Purdue will continue to depend on Edey to have success down the road, as he proves night in and night out that he is the most dominating force in all of NCAA Basketball.
A Look Ahead:
The (as of this writing) #1 Purdue Boilermakers play two games this week. On Thursday, the Boilermakers host the suddenly hot Iowa Hawkeyes. Following that game, Purdue travels to Northwestern for a Sunday contest. Purdue should be heavy favorites this week in both contests.
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