Early in the game we mourned the loss of Purdue point guard P.J. Thompson. Just 66 seconds into the contest Arizona State got its first points when Obinna Oleka looked like he came off of a trampoline to grab an alley-oop pass from Shannon Evans II. His head was pretty much even with the basket, and he threw down a vicious one-handed dunk with a ridiculous amount of prejudice on Thompson, who was trying to intercept the pass but was a good two feet below Oleka. It was a brutal posterization.
The box score said Thompson finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists, but he bravely lost his life on that dunk. Eventually, Arizona State would take a 10-9 lead on another dunk by Tiran Graham, but that is when the Boilermakers unleashed holy hell on the unsuspecting Sun Devils to avenge Thompson’s death. From the 13:02 mark of the first half until the five minute mark Purdue went on an impressive 26-2 run to take full control of the game and never look back.
It was an impressive run because the Boilers were very sloppy in the opening five minutes. There were tons of silly turnovers and missed shots, but Arizona State was not doing much offensively. The run didn’t even get going in earnest until Basil Smotherman hit a three in the corner with 8:39 left. Over that previous stretch Purdue had scored just six points in roughly five minutes, but the three opened the floodgates. Purdue scored 20 points to Arizona State’s two over the next 3:39 and the game was pretty much over from there.
There are a lot of good things to take away from this. First, Purdue’s best player, Caleb Swanigan, was virtually a non-factor. He finished with 6 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists, but was content to let his teammates do the work. They were up to the task. Purdue put six players in double figures during a night of balanced scoring. Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both had 16. I am happiest that Vince had 16. He was awful against Louisville and not much better against Morehead State, but he seemed to wake up tonight. He would finish with a 16-5-3 line off the bench that also included a pair of steals. This was the Vince we have needed for awhile.
Purdue also had great nights from Basil Smotherman, Carsen Edwards, and Ryan Cline. Cline connected on 5 of 7 threes proving that you cannot leave him open from deep. Smotherman hit a big three and had a season had 13. Carsen finished with 12 and continued to show the promise we are liking in the young freshman.
Arizona State just had no answer after the first ten minutes. Purdue hit 55.6% from three (15 of 27), a number that will only make things easier for Haas and Swanigan down the road. Purdue put on a passing clinic with 26 assists on 38 made field goals.
Oh, and you want defense? How about holding Arizona State to 35.8% from the field (and that was with a late run where they scored 24 points in the final six minutes after Purdue stretched its lead to 41)? How about holding Graham, Evans, and Tra Holder, averaging 17 points per game, to only 2? How about holding them to 15.4% from three (4 of 26, and they hit two of them in the final two minutes). How about a 44-28 rebounding edge?
I was a little worried about this one earlier today, but aside from a slow and sloppy start Purdue completely dominated a major conference team that had five players averaging in double figures. This was an impressive win and if Purdue ever clears up its turnover issues (15 tonight), watch out.