No amount of snow and white outside was going to keep the Purdue faithful from ‘blacking out’ Mackey Arena. Despite West Lafayette getting a heavy blanket of snow all morning and into the afternoon, Mackey Arena was filled to capacity and loud, eagerly awaiting the first of two match-ups against the arch-rival Indiana Hoosiers.
In a state where basketball is life, and allegiances are chosen at birth, the
Purdue-IU doesn’t take into accounts records or rankings. It doesn’t matter that IU had lost their last three contests, or that Purdue had won their last two and are playing their best basketball of the season.
What does matter is that Purdue and IU both have two of the best guards in the country, in IU’s true freshman Romeo Langford and Purdue’s Carsen Edwards, and the state of Indiana was ready for another chapter in the best rivalry in college basketball.
But fortunately for Purdue fans, the drama was only a thing of lore as Purdue survived a cold first half (1 of 9 from three), to catch fire early in the second and control the game throughout the second half, holding a double-digit lead throughout and winning the game 70-55.
For all the deserved attention for Romeo Langford and Carsen Edwards, it was sophomore point guard Nojel Eastern who was the best player on the court in the first half. Eastern had 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in the first half, but even more impressive was his defense. He held Langford scoreless in the first half and helped the freshman to three turnovers.
The game started out poorly for IU, as Langford got into quick foul trouble. He picked up an early foul against Carsen Edwards in transition, and then got called for a charge against Grady Eifert on a drive. He played just 6:10 in the first half.
Edwards struggled with his shot from deep, missing all four of his attempts in the first half, but turned it around early in the second half making 2 quick threes and finishing the game with 20 points. But Edwards was aggressive throughout and made plays for his teammates, finishing the game with 6 assists.
Ryan Cline got the second half started for the Boilermakers. After starting the game by making Purdue’s only three of the first half, he drained two quick triples to extend the Purdue lead to double-figures in the second half. He would finish the game with 8 points.
While there were no noticeable ‘ain’t playing’ dunks or ‘baptizing of the masses,’ Purdue’s Aaron Wheeler had one of the highlight of the day, skying up to meet Romeo Langford at the rim and blocking the freshman with authority. Later in the game, on a reverse lay-up attempt, Matt Haarms would pin one to the glass on Langford. The freshman, who had scored at least 12 points in every game this season, could never get comfortable against Purdue. He finished with just 4 points on 2 of 10 shooting.
Purdue moves to 5-2 in Big Ten play and will go on the road to play Ohio State in Columbus on Wednesday at 7:00 pm.