When you’ve won 18 games in a row the next game always feel like it could be the last. You’ve played too good for too long. You’ve gotten out of some tricky games with a win. You’ve played poorly and still won. Yet somehow you continue to win. Today definitely falls into that last category. Purdue allowed Rutgers to stay in this game and nearly pull off the upset. I know Purdue led the whole game but it was a one possession game with :10 seconds left. Not what we were all expecting going into the game but as they say, a win is a win is a win.
John Wooden Memorial Player of the Game (JWMPOTG): Vincent Edwards gets this today, not just for his free throw with 9.9 seconds left that put Purdue up 76-72 but with his overall game that stuffed the stat sheet. He finished the night with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists all while still continuing to struggle with the flu. As someone who was recently sick I can tell you this is an amazing feat.
When these two teams played in Mackey earlier this year Purdue walked away with an easy victory 82-51. I know going on the road in this conference is never easy but I certainly didn’t expect this team to struggle so much against Rutgers based on the earlier results. Tonight though Purdue allowed a superior Rutgers effort on the boards combined with a great shooting game by Corey Sanders, 13-27 for 31 points, to make this one more interesting than it should’ve been.
In the first half Purdue got fat off of transition buckets because Rutgers was continuously turning the ball over. Once that dried up, so did Purdue’s offense. For the third straight game Purdue struggled to look like the team we’ve come to know this year, but again, a win is a win is a win.
Rutgers is one of the worst (shooting) teams in the conference yet today they shot 48%, Purdue only shot 45%. While Purdue hasn’t been a great rebounding team this year they certainly don’t get embarrassed on the regular but tonight Rutgers grabbed a total of 15 offensive boards compared with Purdue’s 7. Total rebounding was Rutgers 37 to Purdue’s 25. If you’re a Purdue fan these are definitely things to worry about. Rebounding is all about effort and Purdue just didn’t seem to have it tonight, but as I’ve said, a win is a win is a win.
With Haas struggling today, he wound up with just 7 points and 4 rebounds, Purdue never really established that post-presence that opens up the floor so much for our shooters like Ryan Cline, Dakota Mathias, and PJ Thompson. Purdue shot just 33.3 from deep partly because of this lack of inside presence. Again though, a win is a win is a win.
There were some milestones reached tonight by our Boilermakers that deserve special recognition. Vincent Edwards the JWMPOTG surpassed 1,500 points for his career. Isaac Hass surpassed 1,400 points for his career and Dakota Mathias went above 1,000 points for his career. Not a bad little group of seniors we’ve got right though. For those that are curious PJ Thompson currently sits in the 700s so I don’t think over 1,000 is in the cards for him.
Purdue now sits at 23-2 (12-0) with two important, and difficult, games coming up next. No one other than Penn State, of all people, has been able to take down Ohio State but Purdue gets their chance as the Buckeyes head to Mackey Arena on Wednesday at 8:00. That game will go a long way in deciding who wins the B1G. Let’s hope Purdue brings their A game unlike tonight, but as I’ve stressed a win is a win is a win and I’ll take a win no matter how it comes.