That’s why they are the Champs.
Villanova came into a rocking Mackey Arena and walked away with a hard fought 3-point victory in as good of a game as you’ll see early in the college basketball season. Purdue had a pair of three-point chances to tie late, but Villanova’s defense challenged them and both were off. Villanova won because they have the experience to weather the storms like this. Purdue lost because, still, they are not quite there. They can get there. There were promising moments, but as we have seen many times over the years, Purdue had its chances to make an important statement early and couldn’t come through.
· Purdue had 15 turnovers at home. Many of them came in critical spots, like Carsen Edwards overthrowing Isaac Haas on a break when Purdue had a chance to tie. It wasn’t so much the number of turnovers, but when they occurred.
· Purdue had at least four chances to tie or take the lead in the second half down 1 or 2 after trailing by 11. It felt like if they could get over the hump the Mackey magic would carry them, but alas, those turnovers and missed chances.
· Haas missed three critical free throws late. Purdue was 12 of 19 at the line for the game. If it is 13 of 19 it is a completely different ballgame with 30 seconds left.
· Purdue battled foul trouble early on and it was apparent that had Haas been able to play more in the first half the Boilers could have built a lead. He was completely dominant in the final minutes and could not be stopped. If not for foul trouble he could have scored 35 or 40. Easily.
· Josh Hart was amazing. Purdue had no answer for him defensively. Vincent Edwards played a decent game with 8 assists and 10 points, but he was pretty bad defensively.
· Officiating was... questionable most of the night, but Villanova had its share of bad calls too.
As good as things look in a tight loss like this, it feels like a missed chance. One needs only look to the South to see the difference right now. Both teams had a chance to beat a preseason top 5 team early in the year. Indiana got it done. Purdue did not. We are still searching for that elusive next level where we can beat teams like this because to have success in March you need to win these games.
Hopefully we can finally get there later.