Your first place Purdue Boilermakers!
In a season where every Big Ten will be hard earned and we will likely need 11 of them, we’re now 1 for 1. Trevion Williams was on Ice Cube watch and nearly got the second triple-double in school history (and first since Joe Barry Carroll since December 10, 1977 at Arizona) and lead Purdue to a critical victory over a ranked opponent. Yes, the Buckeyes were without E.J. Liddell, but since Miami not having Chris Lykes ultimately did not matter you can take nothing for granted.
Yes, Tre had 16 points and nine rebounds, as is a pretty typical night for him, but it was a career high EIGHT assists that really impressed. Three times he calmly waited for an unguarded Mason Gillis to back cut for an easy basket out of the double team. That freed a lot of things up elsewhere. Eric Hunter Jr. had a slow start but benefitted greatly from Tre’s passing as well.
This is a game that had a lot of little plays that later ended up being huge:
- Jaden Ivey missed his first three shots after returning from injury, two as airballs, but got active defensively and hit two fast break layups just before halftime to push a two point lead to six. Those were his only four points of the game, but they were big.
- Tre hit a couple circus shots early in the second half to push a four point lead to eight.
- Hunter got a big steal and dunk with 15:55 left that pushed the lead to 10 and would have ignited the crowd... if there had been a crowd. It was the first “Dammit, I REALLY miss having a crowd that would have blown the roof off there,” moment.
- Ohio State once again fought back to get it to four at 48-44, but Brandon Newman rattled in a huge three with 13:55 left. That is EXACTLY what was missing at Miami. We didn’t have one of those, “we have a double digit lead dwindling and the opponent has momentum, so we need a basket NOW,” moments in Coral Gables. Newman provided it here.
- Aaron Wheeler hit a huge three with 10:21 left.
- My moment of the game came with 8:36 left. Sasha Stefanovic missed a three as the shot clock wound down, but Isaiah Thompson of all people got the offensive rebound, got it to Hunter, and Hunter buried a wing three to push the lead to 14.
Unfortunately, Purdue had to hang on from there, as it only scored six points in the final 7:51. It struggled offensively, missed some rebounds, and had two burnt ends on one-and-ones, but it did enough. Newman’s basket with 1:48 gave us our final points and, after the lead had dwindled to six and the Buckeyes had a chance with the ball on the previous possession, stymied any thoughts of “Oh great, here we go again.” That basket was especially huge after we had gotten the ball back due to a video review.
Overall this is a really good win over a top 25 team. We can bank it in our profile now and build on it. Purdue did not play its best game, but it showed improvement and held on when, just 8 days ago, it fell apart in Miami in a similar situation.
I’ll take it.