A day late, but the Boilermakers finally have something to be thankful for in the Bahamas.
Purdue crushes #2 team in the nation, Arizona, 89-64, in the final game of the Battle 4 Atlantic tournament.
When the tournament was first set, this was a potential championship match-up fans salivated about. Instead, both fan bases found themselves stunned to see the two top-20 programs battling it out for last place.
Arizona, a team full of highly touted freshman, was coming off a loss to SMU and NC State. Purdue, a team full of seniors, was coming off losses to Tennessee in overtime and Western Kentucky.
Ironically, the losses set themselves up for the marquee win this program was hoping for coming into the tournament. But the shine of a victory over Arizona, even a lopsided one like this, will undoubtedly suffer after Arizona leaves the Bahamas with 3 losses and a sure slip in the rankings.
But the Boilermakers will feel good about this one. They jumped out to an early double-digit lead and never looked back.
Carsen Edwards was a stand-out in the first half, knocking down the long-range bombs Purdue struggled to see fall in the first two games. Edwards made his last four 3-point attempts of the second half to push Purdue to a 50-33 lead. Edwards would finish with 22 points on the game, making 5 three-pointers, and all three of his free-throws.
The Wildcats would never get within single digits for the rest of the game despite a strong performance from their freshman big man Deandre Ayton who scored 22 points and grabbed 8 boards, but struggled to hold off Isaac Haas inside, and ultimately fouled out with five minutes remaining in the second half.
Purdue’s Dakota Mathias would lead all scorers with 24 points on just 13 shots from the floor. He connected on half of his 6 three point attempts and all 3 of his free throws. But most impressively, he locked down Arizona’s leading scorer Allonzo Trier. Trier came into the game, not only averaging 27.8 ppg, but not scoring less than 22 points in any single game. Mathias held Trier to 3 of 10 shooting and just 8 points laying early claim as best defender in the Big Ten.
But Mathias wasn’t alone on the defensive end. Freshman Matt Haarms continues to be a revelation on the defensive end. He had four blocks in just the first half, and finished the game with 5 blocks, 4 rebounds, 6 points, and two assists. He continues to provide a quicker option at the five when Haas goes to the bench.
Isaac Haas finished the game with an efficient 12 points on just seven shots. Most importantly, he got the Wildcat’s big men in foul trouble. Dusan Ristic and Ayton would both foul out while the game was still being decided. Haas’s highlight block on Ayton was a pivotal play in the second half that helped put a hold on any Wildcat comeback.
Vincent Edwards found redemption. Edwards was given instruction to be more aggressive with the ball, and the senior took Painter’s words to heart. After starting off by knocking down two three-pointers, Vincent continuously looked to get to the hoop. He finished with 17 points on just 7 shots, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished for 4 assists on the game. He stayed out of foul trouble despite the difficult task of being way outsized by Ayton, and continuously attacked for an offense that needed a spark.
The Boilermakers starting five would go 15 of 15 from the free throw line for the game.
Purdue shot tremendously well from the floor. They made 57.4% of their shots, and half of their three-point attempts. They held Arizona to just 3 of 17 from deep and gave up only 9 offensive rebounds to a team with a considerable athleticism advantage.
The Boilers bounce back in a big way with another huge match-up on the way.
Purdue hosts Louisville in Mackey Arena on Tuesday night.
Now, Purdue’s most recent wins over a No. 1 ranked team and a No. 2 ranked team have come over the Arizona Wildcats. Purdue beat No. 1 Arizona in the winter of 2000, and tonight it empathically beat the No. 2 Wildcats in the 7th place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis for its first win over a No. 2 team since E’Twaun Moore transcended basketball and dropped 38 on Ohio State in February 2011.