Purdue topped Marquette 75-70 at home on the back of a 20 point, 13 rebound, 3 block performance from Zach Edey and a 20 point, 3 assist and 2 turnover game (both occuring in the first 2 minutes of the game).
The freshmen guards (Smith and Loyer) looked shook in the first 5 minutes of the game. It reminded me of the first time I drove in Houston traffic. I pulled onto the interstate thinking, “this is just driving, I’ve done this for years,” and soon realized I was dealing with a something totally different than any driving I’d done over the first 29 years of my life (didn’t help that I was in a rental 4 banger). After 10 minutes of white knuckled driving and fervent prayer, things started to slow down and I found my groove, but those first 10 minutes were white knuckled terror. Smith and and Loyer had a similar reaction to their first taste of competitive high major basketball.
Once the game settled down, the Boilermakers found their rhythm on offense, with the back court leading the way, scoring 25 of Purdue’s 32 points in the first half. Fletcher Loyer hit two 3’s, Brandon Newman led the squad with 7 rebounds, and Braden Smith didn’t let Marquette shake his confidence, despite a rough start.
While the offense found their groove in the first half, the defense struggled to contain the pick and roll. Marquette point guard, Tyler Kolek dissected the Boilermaker defense, and wing Kam Jones got hot from deep, providing the Golden Eagles with the offensive punch they needed to take a 34-32 lead into the locker room. Despite heading to intermission with a lead, it felt like the Golden Eagles squandered an opportunity (dare I say golden opportunity) to knock the young Boilermakers out early.
Purdue came out of the locker room determined to feed Zach Edey. The biggest Canadian in captivity (and possibly in the wild) came out with fire in his eyes, and took over the post, refusing to let the undersized Marquette front line move him off his spot. He topped his first half production (6) points, inside the first 5 minutes of the half. Giving Purdue a 38-40 lead.
Then David Joplin got hot for Marquette, like the interior of a hot pocket fresh out of the microwave hot. After not scoring in the first half, he hit a 3 in Fletcher Loyer’s face. Then he hit another 3, and another, and suddenly he had 11 points, and Marquette grabbed a 56-49 lead halfway through the second period.
Newman (2), Edey (3), and Kaufman Renn(2), helped Purdue close the gap with a 7-2 run, cutting the deficit to 58-54. Then David Jenkins and Braden Smith took over the game. Jenkins scored 5 straight, and then Smith detonated, in one of the most impressive 1 minutes spurts I’ve seen from a true freshman at Purdue. The diminutive guard drove the ball to the hoop for two, got fouled driving the ball to the hoop and hit two free throws, and then finished his run with another layup. Starting with 7:37 remaining in the game, and ending with a ferocious Caleb Furst dunk at the 3:23 mark, Jenkins and Smith scored all of Purdue’s 11 points, and flipped the script of the game. Marquette’s 3 point lead turned into a 5 point Purdue advantage, and the Boilermakers didn’t look back.
Both teams went on a scoring drought, starting at Furst’s dunk at 3:23, and ending with 2 Braden Smith free throws at the 1:29 mark, putting the Boilermakers up 7. After a Zach Edey score to extend the lead to 9 with 47 seconds remaining, Marquette started fouling and Purdue learned an important lesson about closing out games.
David Jenkins missed the front end of a 1 and 1. Then Fletcher Loyer split a pair, followed by a Joplin 3 pointer. Then Braden Smith split a pair and Joplin was awarded 3 free throws on a ridiculously poor call by the officiating crew (the foul was clearly on the floor). Joplin his 2 of 3, and suddenly Purdue’s seemingly insurmountable lead was cut to 3 with 8 seconds remaining and Shaka’s havoc defense champing at the bit for a turnover. Ethan Morton managed to free himself, received the inbound pass, and walked to the other end of the court where he calmly hit two clutch free throws to seal the game.
After a final minute that seemed to last for 20 minutes, the final buzzer sounded, and Purdue picked up their first significant win of the year, 75-70. All-in-all a great game for the team, and every Purdue fan that didn’t invest money on Purdue -8. Good team wins, great teams cover.
Purdue’s a good team at the moment, we’ll see if they find greatness by the end of the season.