The #6 Purdue Boilermakers rallied past the #5 Villanova Wildcats 80-74 in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off championship game after trailing by double-figures in the second half.
For the first time this year, Coach Painter’s Boilermakers played extended minute from behind. Jay Wright’s Wildcats took a lead into half and surged to a double-figure lead with less than ten minutes in the second half. It was the first punch to the face for a Purdue team that had cruised in their first four games of the season, scoring over 90 points in each contest.
Villanova looked like the more poised squad, forcing Purdue’s offense into tough shots, and routinely getting open looks for their bevy of shooters. Villanova took 34 three-pointers and couldn’t miss for portions of the second half, but Wright’s 7-man rotation started to wear down and then collapse entirely against the 10-man deep Painter was able to use for the first time this season.
Also, they collapsed under the weight of Jaden Ivey who for the second time this weekend took over a stretch of the second half with his athleticism and playmaking.
This time it was Ivey drawing the Nova defenders and finding his true freshman Caleb Furst. With Ivey these plays happen in a blink: a drive from the top of the key, freezing the defense before whipping a pass inside to a wide open Furst for a two-handed dunk. A fast break where Ivey pulled in two defenders and dumped it to the right where Furst was able to gather and finish going full speed at the rim. Then it was Ivey pushing in transition, drawing the defense into him again, and kicking it out to the left corner where Furst showed off his diversity of skills. The true freshman big knocked down his only three-point attempt of the game and pushed the lead to 69-62 with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game.
None of those plays were the most impressive for Furst, who finished the game a perfect 5-5 from the field, scoring 12 points to go with 4 rebounds. The freshman has shown an ability to do everything on the floor. His drive left baseline into a nifty euro finish with his off-hand for an And-1 was a much needed basket in a second half where Purdue’s offense needed 12 minutes to get going.
Zach Edey continues to be a problem teams just can’t match-up with. He had 21 points on 12 shots, and finished a spinning dunk that will be on his highlights for the rest of his career. The big man stayed out of foul trouble this game and helped Purdue to another strong start.
But Player of the Game might have to go to Painter’s starting point guard, Isaiah Thompson, who struggled early in the game before going lights out in the second half. Again it was Ivey finding Thompson in the corner to knock down a big three, but Thompson kept hitting in the second half. Thompson finished 4-5 from three, knocking down three of them in the last ten minutes and helping get Purdue back in the game and then ahead of Villanova, he finished with 12 points.
Purdue’s depth was just too much for Nova, as they added Mason Gillis back to their rotation after serving a suspension to start the season.
Coach Wright had just seven players and he put a lot on lead guard Collin Gillepsie who had 14 points, but struggled to knock down his jumpers late, finishing 4 of 12 from the field. Justin Moore led Villanova with 19 points.
Jaden Ivey struggled to score this game, but his all around game and play making continue to grow. He had 10 points to go with 7 rebound and 7 assists. The star sophomore impressed once again in front of NBA scouts. He had Purdue playing like a national championship favorite.
But Purdue will get five days to breathe and recover from back to back games against top-20 opponents before they take on a Omaha team that looks like one of the worst in the country.