Today's game was not as emphatic of a defeat as Friday's win over Samford. There were some Purdue struggles as the IUPUI Jaguars were able to stay in the game with Leo Svete shooting well from outside and freshman D.J. McCall scoring in a variety of ways. Both of them had 14 points, and combined with some cold shooting, turnovers, and poor defense the Jags had a chance to make things very uncomfortable in the closing minutes.
With roughly six minutes left the Jags closed to within eight at 65-57. P.J. Boutte then had an open look at a three that would have cut the lead to five. He missed, Vince Edwards got the rebound, and would add a free throw before Kendall Stephens hit his sixth triple of the game with 4:19 left to effectively seal the game. IUPUI would not score in the final six minutes as Purdue put the game away with a closing 12-0 run.
This game was very much a show put on by Edwards and Stephens. Edwards had a fantastic first half with 19 points and he hit 10 of his first 12 field goals before cooling off to finish 11 of 16. Vince did it in a variety of ways. He scored by going strong to the basket. He scored off of offensive rebounds (of which he had five). He also added a pair of three-pointers.
Purdue is going to be better this season because they have not had a player that can play inside-out like Edwards probably since Robbie Hummel was on campus. Vince isn't the three-point shooter Rob was, but he is effective enough that teams are going to have to respect it. That changes the defense that the Boilers will face. Edwards had 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks, all career highs.
Then there was Stephens, who was a sniper with a career high 24 points and six three pointers. He was also Purdue's best player at the free throw line with a perfect 6 of 6. I want Kendall to become a more well-rounded player because he almost exclusively shoots threes, but I am never going to complain about hitting six triples in a game.
There were some concerns though. Purdue had 15 turnovers, and Bryson Scott in particular had a rough day with three bad ones. A.J. Hammons also had four and was effectively neutralized by a double or triple-team every time he touched the ball. In fact, Hammons and Isaac Haas only had 12 points and five rebounds combined, but they were the main reason that IUPUI had 32 fouls and virtually every post player was in foul trouble. Justus Stanback fouled out with more than 10 minutes to go. DavRon Williams and Josh James both finished with four fouls, as did Aaron Brennan.
The rest of Purdue's totals were an exercise in the Little Things, which were often forgotten he past two years. Jon Octeus and Dakota Mathias each had four assists. Rapheal Davis only had two points, but they came on a big early steal and dunk.
There is a lot that needs to be worked on, but being in Mackey today showed me that Purdue passed the infamous eye test. They just look different from last year. They play hard, play together, and act like everyone actually likes each other. You never had that feeling last year. Today you had guys doing something as simple as helping each other up, when last year in the Big Ten tourney game Basil Smotherman went down at one end of the floor and absolutely no one helped him back to the bench.
There is one more tune up this week against a very bad Grambling State team before heading to Maui. Purdue is winning games by an average of 30 points though, so the proverbial good start is there.