Purdue was not good in the final three minutes against Texas and lost as a result. The second half agaisnt Marquette was probably the worst half of basketball it has played since getting blasted by Kansas in the Sweet 16 in 2017, and Purdue lost as a result. The Boilermakers very easily could have been 3-0 entering today’s game with Chicago State, but instead they had a losing record for the first time in almost six years and the knowledge they had mostly beaten themselves.
- The good news is that we had Chicago State, the worst Division I team in the country according to KenPom, coming to town. That meant a confidence building blowout win, most likely. Unfortuantely, second half vs. Marquette Purdue showed up for the first 16 minutes. Stagnant offense, poor shooting, and bad defense meant that the Cougars were actually leading 28-27 at the final media timeout of the first half. In my preview I said that if Purdue won by less than thirty it would be a serious indictment of this team. While it was still unlikely even at that point, an actual loss to a woeful team like Chicago State would have been a complete and utter disaster and, to be quite blunt, a fireable offense.
Fortuantely, Purdue decided to restart its 2019-20 season from that point. The Boilers went on a 37-3 run from 3:38 in the first half to 12:22 in the second half to turn an alarming situation into a laugher. In that, we saw what can be frustrating about Purdue and, in a way, all of college basketball. For 16 minutes Purdue looked generally terrible, then a switch flipped and it looked unbeatable. We saw the opposite at Marquette on Wednesday. Purdue opened up an 18 point lead and looked incredible, then completely fell apart.
Look, I know this is Chicago State. They’re really bad, but this was a slumpbuster. As poorly as we played on Wednesday we just needed something simple like seeing the ball go in the basket. We got contributions from all over, and that is how this team is going to win in a Carsen-less world. Aaron Wheeler had his first career double-double. Isaiah Thompson played some really good minutes and got into double-figures for the first time with 17. If his shot falls like it was today it will be incredibly beneficial to this team. Evan Boudreaux, who many had left for dead, got into double figures. We also saw the first collegiate points for Emmanuel Dowuona (4 points, 2 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a steal in his collegiate debut).
Sometimes it is just critical to get guys going even against a lousy opponent. Cubs first baseman Mark Grace called a slumpbuster (although in much more crass terms) back in the day. After two straight losses and a really ugly second half at Marquette the Boilers just needed to lay the smack down. It took a while to get going, but 37-3 runs are difficult against any opponent. That was good to see.
Purdue now has a week off before hosting Jacksonville State in a sneaky tough game. The Gamecocks were a solid low major last season in the Ohio Valley Conference and could be a potential NCAA team with an autobid. Then we have the next three big non-conference games with VCU, Tennessee or Florida State, and Virginia. Get those three games, plus the two season opening conference games agaisnt Northwestern and Nebraska, and the Boilers are right back in the top 20 if not higher, and everything is fine.