When P. J. Thompson, Isaac Haas, Vincent Edwards, and Dakota Mathias came to Purdue four years ago, Purdue’s program had just finished last in the B10. They hadn’t made to the NCAA tournament in two years, and the program needed a change to its culture and on-court product. They provided both.
And after their 84-60 victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers, they can add 100 wins to their belt.
Senior Vincent Edwards returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with an ankle injury, but the prevailing narrative will be about a sophomore and a senior.
Dakota Mathias and Carsen Edwards have collectively taken over the final three games of Purdue’s season after a 3-game losing streak threatened to take away a special start to the year. Carsen Edwards continues to look like the best player in the conference, doing a little bit of everything against Minnesota. He scored 18 points, knocked down half of his 6 3-point tries, grabbed 4 boards to go with 7 assists. His defense was excellent all night, forcing turnovers and getting to shots. He had 3 steals and 2 blocks on the night.
But on senior night, it was Senior guard Dakota Mathias that took over the game, scoring a game-high 25 points on an incredibly efficient 11 shots. Mathias was 9 of 11 from the field and looked aggressive from the beginning. He connected on 7 of his 9 3-point field goal attempts, including knocking down three in a row in a four minute span. It continues his aggressive and hot play of late. In Purdue’s last two games, Mathias had 18 points in each.
P. J. Thompson has struggled with his shot recently, but found the net on one of his 2 three-point attempts. He had 3 points and was limited by foul trouble. But the Senior point guard has been an incredible competitor his entire career. The lone Indiana native on the starting lineup, he has embodied the Boilermaker spirit, and making a career out of coming up big in the biggest moments even as the smallest guy on the court.
Senior center Isaac Haas had a quiet but efficient 13 points on just 9 shots from the floor. He will finish his career as one of the best Boiler big man, and an absolute wrecking ball of an offensive force in the post. His thunderous jam in the second half on a Carsen Edwards feed sent Mackey into a frenzy.
Senior forward Vincent Edwards looked healthy, and ready to go for tournament play even if his shot wasn’t falling. He had 10 points on 10 shots, but he grabbed two offensive fouls and helped a Purdue defense that struggled to contain Illinois offense in their previous game. Edwards gets one game under his belt on the healing ankle just in time for his favorite time of year, March. He’s averaged over 17 points and 8 rebounds per game in NCAA tournament games.
Dakota Mathias might go down as one of the most complete two-way players in Purdue history. He’ll definitely lead as one of the best shooters. After his 7 three’s against Minnesota, he trails E’twaun Moore’s school record 243 made 3’s by just 12.
For this Purdue class, there are only tournament games left. They will play as #3 in the Big Ten Tournament in Madison Square Garden.