This game wasn’t about giving Zach Edey 30 shot attempts or showing anything spectacular against a clearly overwhelmed opponent. It’s always been how Purdue handles a team that’s overwhelmed, executing their actions to make good shots on offense and paying attention to details on defense. That turned out to be the reason Purdue won 61-39.
Purdue started the game and held Minnesota to 2 points in the first 4:28 seconds, and despite experiencing a small goal drought themselves (held at 14 points for about 3 minutes), Purdue didn’t let it affect that defensive end, as they limited the Gophers to shooting only 5-24 (20.8%) off the field in the first half and forced them to 10 turnovers. Taurus Samuels led the Gophers in the first half with 6 points while three other Gophers had 2 points each. The Gophers only scored 12 total points, and if there hadn’t been a two-point bench throw, they might have only scored 9 total points (if Loyer hadn’t fouled, it wouldn’t have gone in I think).
Meanwhile, the Boilers made very precise offensive moves to provide consistent open looks on the rim that kept Minnesota from being able to close shooters beyond the arc. Braden Smith masterfully controlled the ball from the point guard position, where he was frequently asked to run a high ball screen with Zach Edey, allowing him to easily read and react to what the defense was giving him. In the first half, he had 9 points on 4-6 shots, 6 rebounds and 5 assists while controlling the game for Purdue at a level that belies his age.
Edey also had a great first half where he scored 12 points, had 3 rebounds, blocked 3 shots and even gave out 2 assists. Minnesota just wanted to play Edey one-on-one much like Michigan State did with Sisoko, and though they were successful at times, Edey was eventually able to get his spots. The way these two dominated the first half was clear, just under 4 minutes from time in the first half when Smith got a high ball screen from Edey, sliced left and threw a lob to a diving Edey who was with ended in a massive and-1 dunk.
Braden Smith was similar in the second half as he frequently took advantage of Minnesota’s poor defense against him in high pick and roll action. He scored 10 points in the second half as he shot from behind the arc 2-3. The overall picture here is that in a game that was quickly turning into a blowout, Purdue continued to execute her sets and actions to make good shots while at the same time staying defensively focused to not give up easy shots (until the end of the game ).
At 9:40 in the second half, Purdue showed the beauty of offense running without many of their big names. With Edey, Furst, Smith and Loyer on the bench, Purdue had Newman, Kaufman-Renn, Jenkins, Gillis and Morton on the floor. Purdue worked the ball through multiple actions and counterattacks to eventually give Mason Gillis an open shot from behind the arc to bury a three to give Purdue a 52-25 lead.
In the end, Purdue did exactly what they should have done and had a good schedule to finish the B1G season. Purdue will play seven home games in its last 12 games with road games against Wisconsin (4-3), Michigan (4-3), Northwestern (3-3), Maryland (3-4) and Indiana (3-4). . With tonight’s win, Purdue has moved up to 7-1 in the conference and taken a two-game lead over Rutgers and Michigan State. After snagging a B1G title last season, Purdue appears to have positioned itself again for another chance at their 25th B1G Conference Championship.
Purdue will play again on Sunday, January 22 at 1:00 p.m. at Mackey Arena against a Maryland team who struggled their way from their home court (1-4) but desperately need a big win to put themselves in to bring the discussion of being safe into the NCAAT.