Finally, Purdue has a win in the Crossroads Classic.
Finally, Purdue has beaten Notre Dame for the first time in over 50 years.
Finally, Purdue has a quality non-conference win over a ranked team. That all three happened at the same time? Even better!
It sure did not look like it would go this way at halftime. V.J. Beachem treated Carsen Edwards like a matador on his way to a vicious dunk, and that was one of many plays where Purdue looked awful defensively. They led by as many as 17 in the first half and 52-38 at halftime. Even worse, they were shooting 65% and over 60% from three. Purdue started slow offensively, but at least had something good going by the end. Defensviely though… ugh. It was awful.
We have to give coach Painter credit though. He saw what was not working (notably, Isaac Haas on defense) and made a change. Purdue went small and pretty much went marathon in the second half. Haas only played a brief stretch and Smotherman did not play at all from what I remember. That meant Caleb Swanigan, Vincent Edwards, Carsen Edwards, P.J. Thompson, and Dakota Mathias played almost the entirety of the half. The only true sub was Ryan Cline.
And let’s talk about Cline for a moment. The kid didn’t have a 26 and 10 with four blocks like Swanigan. He didn’t have a 20 and 10 like Vince. He only had 7 points and two rebounds, but they were gigantic. First, his lone three-pointer with 10:28 left (after a Mathias steal) gave Purdue its first lead at 67-65. The Boilers would be tied a couple of times, but this was the lone lead change. When Purdue played Villanova earlier this year it came back from deficits, but was never able to get in front despite several chances. With the Cline three it got Purdue over the hump on the very first possession it could take the lead. In terms of momentum, that was huge.
Then you have both rebounds. The first got the fourth foul on Bonzie Colson, who was killing Purdue to that point. It came with 6:36 left and 85 feet from Purdue’s basket. Cline went to the line and canned both free throws to push the lead to 78-72. His second rebound came with 1:00 minute left and he was fouled by Steve Vasturia. It was Vasturia’s fifth foul and it took one of their best three-point shooters out of the game for good. Again, Cline went to the line and canned both free throws to push the lead to 84-79.
That was all Cline really did the whole day, but it was huge. It was also a testament to how everyone on this team contributes. Sure, the story was Swanigan and Vince, but everyone else had a hand in this. Thompson had nine points, six assists, and no turnovers. Carsen had 11 points and hit the big three to start the second half. As a team Purdue adjusted its defense and gave up only 29 points after giving up 52 in the first half.
It was a great win and a great comeback. Now we get two delicious cupcakes before the Big Ten season starts and we have a shiny resume win with two “good” losses (if losses can be good). Now let’s get Spike and Jacquil healthy, keep limiting turnovers like we did today (only nine!) and see what happens.