Purdue got stunned by Wisconsin in Mackey Arena Monday night, as the No. 3 ranked Boilermakers lost their second consecutive Big Ten game by a score of 74-69.
This was a frustrating loss for this team and the program as a whole. Purdue came into tonight looking a bit shaky even in their wins as of late but had an opportunity to rebound against a good Wisconsin team. First, they get a scare by Iowa at home after a 20 point lead, then they lose to a bad Rutgers team in their first week as the No. 1 team in the country, now after some shaky wins they lose a very winnable game at home.
Fans expected Purdue to come back from holiday break recharged and go on a run as many believe this team can do. It appears the Boilermakers did not receive the news and now are in a bit of a tough spot. Purdue did not deserve to win this game at all. They played average or worse in just about every aspect tonight and dropped one inside Mackey Arena.
Many people have said it recently, but Purdue doesn’t look inspired to play right now. It feels like some of that juice that fans are so used to seeing isn’t there for whatever the reason. This is not to say they don’t care about the games they are playing, or don’t want to be out there, because these players and coaches give there heart and soul on the court. There is just something about this team that when they get punched in the mouth, they haven’t had the same response of typical tough nosed Boilermaker teams in the past.
Off the bat, you have to tip your cap to Johnny Davis of Wisconsin to an extent. It takes a special individual to come into the place where defense is supposed to live and drop 37 points on the No. 3 team in the country. Fans might get upset with this statement, but Davis just made a damn good claim for best player in the Big Ten.
It looked like the plan was for Ivey and Davis to go head-to-head, but with Purdue’s star in foul trouble, Matt Painter changed it up as the game progressed. Ethan Morton was guarding him down the stretch, but it honestly did not matter who was on him tonight.
Now, with all that being said, Purdue’s defense was horrendous tonight and has been for much of the year. It was just masked by the high-scoring offense that won the Boilermakers games that probably should have been closer. It has been the guards and wings who simply haven’t shown up for Purdue this year on that end of the floor.
In their last game against Nicholls State, Ty Gordon put up 29 points. That does not happen to Matt Painter-coached teams at home. This has been an issue even dating back to last season when Purdue dropped games they should’ve won. It was a matter of having a slightly off night offensively combined with a terrible defensive showing.
If Purdue wants any chance to make a deep tournament run that was unanimously believed when the season started, the defense is the first thing that needs to be fixed.
As for the offensive side of the ball tonight, it was tough sledding for much of the game as Jaden Ivey got in foul trouble in the first half, the typical shooters weren’t able to connect on shots they usually hit and Trevion Williams and Zach Edey being played very toughly by the Wisconsin bigs.
When Purdue’s big men are being played like that, it’s been tough for the Boilermakers to get much going outside of them. Nobody except Jaden Ivey can create for themselves in basically any situation. Purdue is going to have to learn to adapt to that and get others involved for them to win games in the event Edey and Williams are stifled.
That wasn’t necessarily the biggest reason the Boilermakers lost tonight, but it certainly did not pair well with how they defended. Things did get going in the second half with Williams and Ivey coming out of the gates like a couple of bats out of hell. After Wisconsin took the momentum back, the Boilermakers leaned heavily on Zach Edey who was the main source of offense from that point on.
Tonight was just a confusing game on many fronts. Not being able to string together buckets, allowing Johnny Davis to light Mackey on fire, the awful officiating (which I will stay away from for the most part, but must be addressed), and a lack of making big-time plays down the stretch,
After saying all of that, the sky is not falling in West Lafayette. Today is January 3rd, 2022 and there is a long long time until the second week of March when the NCAA Tournament begins. We could very well look back at this game and say that is when Purdue found themselves to make a run. Purdue has only lost 2 games this season so evidently, they can overcome those issues fairly well, but they are still there and will be exploited against very good squads in the Big Ten.
The time is now to get back in the lab and iron out those problems. If not, this team could be in store for a massive letdown when it counts in March. It is especially true with 4 of their next 5 games coming on the road during conference play.
Next time out, they will travel to Penn State to take on former Boilermaker assistant, Micah Shrewsberry, and the Nittany Lions. That game will be Saturday, January 8th at Noon on Big Ten Network.