Montez Mathis had never made more than 2 three-pointers in a game. So naturally, he went a perfect 5 of 5 from beyond the line of threes and carried Rutgers to their third straight Big Ten win, topping Purdue 81-76 at home.
Sometimes these games just come down to who makes their shots. Purdue didn’t make theirs, going 7-26 from three, and Rutgers had one of their best shooting performances of the year, dropping 11 of their 21 attempts.
The guards for Rutgers simply out played Purdue’s.
Eric Hunter Jr. and Brandon Newman both started the game, both struggled, and both were replaced in the starting lineup in the second half by Isaiah Thompson who tied a career-high of 17 points with his best performance of the year. He was 7 of 8 from the field, knocked down three of four threes, and had two scoring flourishes where he was a one-man run for Coach Painter.
Purdue’s big man Trevion Williams was a one-man wrecking crew in the post. He scored a team-high 20 points on 10 of 12 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds to secure another double-double. The junior continues to respond to an early season benching by being the focal point of an offense that has struggled to take advantage of the open looks the best passing big man in the country orchestrates for them.
Jaden Ivey, Mason Gillis, and Brandon Newman combined to go 0-10 from the three-point line.
But Jaden Ivey continues to show flashes as a potential premier on-ball play maker. The true freshman had two pretty assists in the pick and roll, and was effective getting to the hoop including a stunning finger roll around Rutgers’ big man Myles Johnson.
Geo Baker continues to torment Purdue. The senior scored 19 points, flashing his usual shot-making by hitting pull-ups, step-backs, and difficult contested shots.
Sasha Stefanovic was an effective and more aggressive version of his normal self - especially on the road. He was just 2 of 5 from three, but he finished with 14 points by cutting off ball, drawing fouls, and made a couple really nice passes around the basket.
But Rutgers shooting was too much to overcome as they built a double-digit lead in the first half. Isaiah Thompson knocked down three threes lead to cut the lead to 6 at half, but the defense continued to struggle against shooters, over helping, and leaving shooters open in the corner.
Purdue will need to tighten that up in a hurry. They’ll stay on the road, traveling to Champagne on Saturday where they will take on the Fighting Illini in a marquee match up against the most talented team in the Big Ten.
Purdue is now 7-4 on the year and 2-2 in the conference.