Mackey Magic is back! After dropping their last outing at home against Illinois, the Black and Gold (which was actually neon tonight for the Hammer Down Cancer game) came out and dominated Wisconsin on the way to a 19 point blowout win. Whatever Coach Painter said to the guys after the loss on Tuesday worked and worked in a big way.
This was arguably the most important game of the season for the Boilers bringing them to 11-9 overall and 4-5 in the conference, keeping their NCAA Tournament hopes alive at the moment. They will have the opportunity to enhance their resume in the coming weeks with games against 24th ranked Rutgers, 19th ranked Iowa and an Indiana team who figures to be ranked after beating Michigan State this week.
Evan Boudreaux got his first start of the season and turned in another great game similar to his performance when Purdue ran Michigan State out of Mackey almost two weeks ago. He scored 10 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, a few of which were because of his outstanding effort as he was on the floor diving for balls more than anyone. If there was a game ball to give out he would be the one to get it.
The Boilermakers simply shut Wisconsin down for all 40 minutes as they scored just 51 points, a lot of which came in garbage time and were out-rebounded by the Boilermakers by 26. It was a fairly close game until Trevion Williams scored with 13:29 to go in the first half, starting an 18-4 run that the Badgers could not recover from.
It was a solid game for everyone who played. Something that Purdue has been missing this year is team-wide consistency in big games. Well the team had that tonight. Nojel Eastern continued his outstanding play with 8 points on 3-6 shooting, Isaiah Thompson was on fire on his way to scoring a team high 14 on 6-8 shooting and Eric Hunter had a good game distributing the ball with 6 assists. Matt Haarms and Sasha Stefanovic both anchored the Boilers in the second half with Haarms finishing with 11 points and Sasha putting up 12 points.
With the Big Ten being so tight this season, a solid run to end the Big Ten slate will give the Boilermakers a chance to make a compelling argument to get a bid as they have quality wins and are in the best conference in the country this year.
Purdue will be looking to use this game as momentum to make a run the rest of the year. That run will start Tuesday when they go to Rutgers and take on the Scarlet Knights. After having little success since joining the Big Ten, Rutgers has taken a huge leap this year placing themselves just a game back of the leaders Michigan State and Illinois. It will no doubt be a test for Painter’s crew but if they play the way they did tonight then getting out of there with a win will be easy.