What a bounce-back performance for the Boilermakers! Purdue had their 4 game winning streak snapped last time out against Michigan, but responded with a huge statement win against a tough Minnesota team by a score of 81-62.
It was a story of two halves as the Boilermakers had another slow start to the game missing their first six attempts from behind the arc while Minnesota hit 6/8 to begin the game. The largest deficit of the game for Purdue was 14 points with 9:24 left in the first half and looked like the game could get extremely out of hand.
Momentum started to shift when Brandon Newman hit a jumper just 20 seconds after Minnesota made it a 24-10 game, as the Boilermakers responded with an 11-2 run themselves to cut the lead to only 5. After a largely back and forth stretch to end the half, the deficit remained the same at 35-30.
Whatever Coach Matt Painter said to the guys at halftime flipped some switch both offensively and defensively.
Purdue came out firing on all cylinders offensively to start the half going on an 18-2 run to go from being down 39-35 to take a commanding advantage of 53-41. After not making any three-pointers in the first half, the freshmen stepped up in a big way to connect on the team’s first 5 attempts from beyond the arc.
Newman and the younglings continued to press on the gas throughout the second half playing extremely sound basketball. Minnesota put up a short spurt and got to within 7 points before the Boilermakers just took total control of the game and coast to the 19 point win.
The MVP of the game was no doubt freshman, Brandon Newman, as he posted a career-high 29 points on 9-14 overall shooting with 5, makes from beyond the three-point line. After not scoring against Ohio State and posting just 6 points against Michigan, this was exactly the performance both he and the team needed without Sasha Stefanovic. Newman is the player who can most replicate was Stefanovic does for this team and he certainly proved that tonight.
A performance that might get overlooked by Newman and Trevion Williams is Eric Hunter Jr. He held Marcus Carr to a 2-13 shooting night scoring just 6 points. Carr is the third leading scorer in the Big Ten this season averaging 20.9 points per game coming into the contest. Hunter Jr. also dished out 7 assists and grabbed 6 rebounds for a Chris Kramer like ballgame.
The frontcourt tandem of Trevion Williams and Mason Gillis combined for 28 points and 23 rebounds on the night and were a huge reason why the Boilermakers were able to dominate the second half.
This was a much-needed win especially without Sasha Stefanovic for at least one more game after he tested positive for COVID-19. His three-point shooting is still missed along with his defensive energy and leadership on the court.
After some up and down outings early on in the season, this team has found its rhythm and is getting more and more confident as the year goes on. Seeing Purdue on the schedule will be scary for their upcoming opponents going forward. If Matt Painter and the Boilermakers can replicate this type of performance down the stretch, you could be looking at a top 4 or higher squad in the Big Ten.
With the win tonight, Purdue moves to 12-6 overall and 7-4 in Big Ten play which puts them tied for fourth with Wisconsin and Ohio State, behind only Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois. The Boilermakers will be back in action on Tuesday as they travel to take on the Maryland Terrapins in College Park. Back in their first meeting of the season, Purdue won 73-70 thanks in large part to big games by Eric Hunter Jr. and Brandon Newman.