Before tonight Belmont was one of the top scoring teams in the country. They entered Mackey Arena averaging 89.5 points per game, which was 7th nationally. That was just ahead of NC State and just behind Duke. With all five starters in double figures they were a dangerous team for sure.
For most of the game Purdue was fully in control. The Boilers led by 23 with just under 10 minutes left and appeared to be cruising after Matt Haarms scored to make it 57-34 with 9:53 left.
Then Belmont busted out its full court press.
The Bruins needed less than two minutes for a stunning 14-0 run that got them back into it. They were as close as 7 with the basketball and about 5 minutes left, but Nojel Eastern connected on six straight free throws (monumental for him) and Carsen Edwards hit some big shots as Purdue close this one out.
While it was a little more harrowing than we would have liked, it is a win over a really good team. Belmont was 9-1 coming in, had won at UCLA, and was receiving votes in the AP Poll. They are an NCAA caliber team and not your average paycheck game. Dylan Windler entered averaging better than 19 points per game and was held in check all night. Kevin McClain gave Purdue trouble, especially with some big threes late. He finished with 21.
For Purdue, Carsen was Carsen. He topped 20 points yet again (but needed 21 shots to get there). Haarms had a solid game with 12 points, but everyone had a role. Sasha Stefanovc hit on some open threes. Aaron Wheeler gave some quality minutes and had 6 points. Eric Hunter Jr. had a good stretch and finished with 7. Trevion Williams had some big rebounds and four points. Officially every Boiler that played scored at least 1 point.
Overall, this was a complete team win. Aside from the 14-0 run over less than 2 minutes Purdue played some of its best basketball of the season. It will definitely need to keep doing that as Big Ten play starts again next week.
Bring on Iowa.