It’s been a long time since Purdue Basketball had to suit up for a season opener without Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias, PJ Thompson, and Vincent Edwards running out of the Mackey Arena tunnel, but the combination of National Player of the Year Candidate Carsen Edwards, Senior Ryan Cline, and a few freshman made sure the fans went home happy and had something to look forward to with the 2018-19 season as the Boilermakers handle Fairfield easily 90-57.
The Boilermakers started off looking like a team that lost most of their scoring from last season with players learning new roles on the offensive end, they scored just 7 points in the first five minutes of the game, six of those points coming from senior Grady Eifert. Their defense was consistent enough to keep the game close and then they started connecting from three.
Then true Freshman Eric Hunter Jr. came into the game and hit a pull-up three from the top of the arc to give Purdue its first lead 10-8.
The next possession Senior Ryan Cline caught a pass, pump-faked, and took a side dribble to clear the defender and nailed a three of his own.
And then it was time for the show Purdue’s season has been promising, The Carsen Edwards National Player of the Year Campaign. Carsen would hit back to back threes, the second from every bit of 28 feet, and after a pull-up jumper off glass the Boilers found themselves with a double-digit lead, 21-10, and wouldn’t look back.
Edwards would finish the first half with 13 points, but it was in the second act where he shined. He came out of the gate firing in the second half, scoring Purdue’s first 12 points making 3 three-pointers including a four-point play, and another jumper.
Edwards would finish the game with 30 points, going 7-11 from three, in 28 minutes of action.
Edwards will make the highlights, but behind him, Senior Ryan Cline filled in all the gaps. He continues a trend he started in the off-season scrimmages of being the team’s lead facilitator while not turning the ball over. He also showed and expanded aggressiveness, driving to the hoop, using the threat of his shot, and generally taking control of the offense.
Cline would finish the game with 13 points, 2 rebounds, and 8 assists to just one turnover.
With the loss of four seniors, Coach Painter is gonna have to rely on a bevy of first year players. None were more impressive than the Tindley Prep Eric Hunter Jr. who showed poise, pace, and an ability to get to another gear both offensively and defensively. He scored 10 points on an efficient 4 of 6 from the floor while grabbing three boards, dishing 3 assists and not turning the ball over. He provides shooting at the point that Nojel Eastern does not and it helped open up an offense that was struggling to find space in the first half. He looks to play a significant role off the bench all year.
While Evan Boudreaux, the Dartmouth transfer, did exactly what he was billed at. He fought hard on the boards, ran the offense at the elbows, and took advantages of mismatches in the post. He scored 10 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in 18 minutes of play but had the highest +/- of the game at +28.
Purdue will be encouraged by their shooting after struggling in their lone exhibition game. They went 14 of 30 from three while shooting over 50% from the floor overall.
Purdue’s next game will be November 10th at Mackey Arena where they will be taking on in-state school Ball State at 8:00 pm.