Carsen Edwards was not playin’
If you look across the box score Purdue had perhaps its best “team” game in a long while. It got some big threes from Ryan Cline, P.J. Thompson broke his scoring slump, Dakota Mathias had 18 points and 8 rebounds four three-pointers.
But it was Carsen’s night.
Carsen had the first 40 point game by ANY Purdue basketball player since Glenn Robinson exploded for 44 points against Kansas in the NCAA Tournament on March 24, 1994. He is the first player not named Glenn Robinson (who had 5 40-point games) to score 40 since Joe Barry Caroll against SE Louisiana on December 5, 1979.
How long ago was that? I wasn’t even 2 months old.
Yes, this was big for Purdue’s four seniors. They now have at least one victory in all 14 Big Ten arenas, but it doesn’t happen tonight if Carsen Edwards doesn’t take over. What’s more impressive is he got to 40 on only 19 field goal attempts. He hit threes. He hit runners. He dunked authoritatively in traffic. He hit 14 of 16 free throws. He basically did it all, and it was beautiful to watch.
May this go down as the Carsen Edwards game. He now needs 95 points the rest of the way to join Vince Edwards, Isaac Haas, and Dakota Mathias to be the second time Purdue has had four 1,000 point scorers on the same team at the same time.
Best of all, Purdue just LOOKED better offensively tonight. Yes, the defense struggled, but the Boilers were 11 of 23 from three. Haas had only 10 points, but he hit all four free throws with both trips to the line coming in a one-and-one situation. Purdue outrebounded Illinois by 13 and shot 58% from the floor. It was a welcome return to the offense that won 19 straight games.
And it did all of this with Vince out for a second straight game.
Vince’s replacement, Grady Eifert, had a modest 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists to contribute. he hit an early three (just the second of his career) that made Illinois have to keep him honest the rest of the way. He had four turnovers that led to at least 6 points, but overall he held his own and at least had to be guarded on offense. As a result, that opened things up for everyone else.
The same is true for P.J. After a few scoreless games in a row he was efffective with two early field goals and he went 5 of 6 at the line late for 9 points. He also nearly hit his apttented big three. He needs to keeps hooting and at least be a threat, just like tonight.
Now Purdue heads home, where we will fete the seniors for a final time. They can get their 100th win of their careers, get the school record (for a four year class) 62nd win in Mackey and, with a huge assist from our friends in Madison, get a share of a second straight Big Ten title.
We’ll know by tipoff Sunday if they can still get a piece of the Big Ten, but regardless it needs to be a celebration of a very special class that seems to be coming back together at the right time.