It wasn't a lights out defensive performance, but Purdue's offense put together one of its best nights of the season against a really good opponent tonight to show that the Boilers could be peaking at the right time. Best of all, it was a youth movement on Senior Night. We got shades of Beast Mode AJ and Ray D. had a nice complimentary night, but career nights from Caleb Swanigan and P.J. Thompson helped the Boilers finish 17-1 at home this season. Really, it is 17.5-0.5 because Purdue was fully in control against Iowa before an abject disaster of a second half.
Purdue even learned and started beating a press just a little bit.
There was a lot to like here:
P. J. Thompson - Thompson just loves senior night. Last year it was a defensive masterpiece against Illinois that helped deliver Purdue to the NCAA Tournament. Tonight he made it rain with a career high 22. He was absolutely on fire from long range, hitting six threes after hitting just 25 on the season before tonight. His ability to shoot is going to be a major factor in stretching defenses for Purdue. If he can stay this hot, and paired with another shooter on the floor like Mathias or Cline, Purdue can do some really special things.
Caleb Swanigan - Tonight we got unstoppable, 5-star, Mcdonald's All-American Swanigan. He completely and utterly abused Ethan Happ, and Happ might be the Big Ten's Freshman of the Year. He was smart, decisive, and devastating with his footwork to the tune of (pause for all-caps hyperbole) 6 OF 7 FROM THE FLOOR, A MADE 3, 14 OF 17 FROM THE LINE AND 8 REBOUNDS!!!!! He pretty much told Happ that he was going to score, and to stop him. Happ could not.
Vince Edwards - Vince had about as quiet of an 11-4-6 night as you can, but hit some big threes to loosen up the defense. He, Thompson, and Mathias/Cline have really clicked well from long range recently. We are finally starting to see the offense we have expected to see all year with outside shots falling and opening things up for Hammons/Haas/Swanigan down low. Imagine what teams that haven't been seeing those three monsters for three months are going to do with a handful of days to prepare.
A.J. Hammons - Ho-hum. Just a 16-8-2-2 on senior night.
Purdue's offense - Purdue scored 91 points tonight and shot 62%. That's absurd on any night with the struggles the Boilers have had from the floor. They did it against one of the top defensive teams in the country averaging just 68 points per game given up. They also had only given up 49, 57, 59, 60, 69, 57, 61, 68, and 55 in their last nine games. Basically, we wrecked their shit tonight.
Purdue is now the 4 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and will play at approximately 2:30pm on Friday in Indianapolis. They will play Iowa, Illinois, or Minnesota, so Iowa or Illinois. This is significant because the Boilers went 0-3 against those two. A victory sets up a likely rematch with Indiana on Saturday for the right to go to the Big Ten title game. Purdue picks up a great win tonight for its NCAA profile, and it now has a chance for another good win or two, while exorcising some demons along the way. Get a pair of wins in Indy and I think we're looking at a 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.