Tonight's game was far from pretty at times, but it was a much better game than Saturday. On Saturday Purdue was in control, but there were enough cracks throughout that it seemed as if they led to a complete system collapse in the final three minutes. That's pretty bad at a school full of structural engineers.
Tonight Purdue one again built a big lead. IPFW, normally a good shooting team, started off very poorly from the field as the lead ballooned over 20 in the first half. The Mastodons kept fighting though, and at one point had the ball down only seven with more than 10 minutes to go. Another collapse seemed possible, but Purdue was able to close this one out.
As has been typical this season, Purdue got a lot of balance instead of relying on one main scorer. Seven players scored at least six points and it seemed as if everyone was ready to do something to chip in:
Dakota Mathias - It was his second half three that pushed the lead from seven backup to 10.
A.J. Hammons - He was demoted from starting, but responded with his first double-double of the year with 13 points and 12 rebounds along with five blocks. Are we going to see a triple-double from him?
P.J. Thompson - He played some solid defense in his first career start and his steal and score for his only bucket set the tone early.
Jon Octeus - Once again, he is Mr. everything. I don't think we could have asked for a better fit for a one-year transfer if we tried. He seems like he was born to be an old school Purdue player.
Kendall Stephens - he is still struggling, but his third three-pointer was the closer that truly ended the game.
Isaac Haas - The big man got his first career start and answered with 10 point. He was also a critical 4 for 4 from the free throw line after going 0 for 3 against UNF. He is great at getting to the line, so it is critical he hits once there.
This was a team victory. While Purdue still struggled on offense, defensively it held one of the nation's best shooting teams to 28.6% from the field and it forced 14 turnovers. We also got a boost from the ‘dons hitting less than 50% of their free throws.
This was a game I was scared about before the season because I knew IPFW would be a conference favorite. I expected this game to go more like the UNF game did. Instead, we saw Purdue have one of its best defensive games of the season in holding them 35 points below their season average. It is not a profile-making win, but if IPFW continues to be successful in the Summit League and wins the auto-bid it is a nice little boost to the overall profile at the end of the season.
There is very little turnaround too. A rested Arkansas State, who has only played four games, comes to West Lafayette in 45 hours.