Emotions were high going into Mackey Arena tonight. It was the first major sporting event at home since the passing of Tyler Trent and with the pregame tribute video assuring that dry eyes were few we knew who we were playing for tonight.
And boy, did Purdue deliver.
This was probably Purdue’s most complete game of the season. It shot well. Everyone contributed. Carsen Edwards was Carsen Edwards. Matt Haarms came off the bench and was dominant inside with 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Tyler Cook was the only Hawkeye seemingly aware a game was going on as Purdue’s defense was vastly improved. All 10 players in the regular rotation scored at least 3 point. Everyone passed smart and moved without the basketball.
In short, it was virtually perfect. Purdue needed a win over a good Iowa team and not only got it, it flat out dominated the Hawkeyes. It was a performace that Tyler absolutely would have been proud of in every way.
I think what is great is that purdue was not overly reliant on Carsen tonight. Yes, he finished with 21 points, but we found scoring from everyone and even had a great section of play in the second half when he was on the bench. Aaron Wheeler played another great game agaisnt Big Ten competition just like he did against Maryland last month. Haarms played one of his best games overall as a Boilermaker. Evan Boudreaux even delivered a solid game with eight points and a handful of strong rebounds in traffic.
Sharing the basketball was key tonight. Ryan Cline and Nojel Eastern weren’t in double figures scoring-wise, but combined for 10 assists. Overall, Purdue had 22 assists on 33 made baskets. We also had 39 points off the bench, led mostly by haarms and Wheeler.
Purdue has the weekend off before probably our hardest game left on the schedule in a trip to Michigan State next Wednesday. If we can keep up this effort, however, we’re going to win more than our share of games in conference play. Tonight was a great tribute to Tyler, though, so let’s keep it up.