Purdue headed south to Tallahassee and brought home a 79 to 69 victory over the Noles pushing their record to 7-0 and securing a victory in their ACC/Big10 Challenge swan song.
Once again, Purdue started the game cold. The Seminole length bothered shooters and the Boilermakers committed 8 first half turnovers. Once Purdue slowed the game down and fed the post, things worked as they should. Zach finished the half with 15 points on 6-8 shooting from the floor and 3-4 from the stripe. When they played FSU’s hectic, up and down game, things were ugly. Braden Smith went 1-5, Fletcher Loyer went 1-4, and Mason Gillis was 1-3 in the half.
Meanwhile, Florida State shot better in the first half than they have all season. Darin Green Jr. caught fire, hitting 5-7 for 16 points, including hitting 3-4 from deep. Matthew Cleveland, a one time Purdue recruiting target, also gave the Boilermakers fits, going 4-5 from the field, providing the Noles the second scoring option they’ve been missing all season. On defense, they made the game ugly, using their length to bother Boilermaker ball handlers and block shots at the rim.
Despite FSU bringing their A game, and everyone on Purdue outside of Edey bringing their C (or worse) game, Matt Painter’s crew took a 2 point lead into the locker room. The Seminoles inability to build a lead (or take a lead) despite Purdue struggling to shoot and turning the ball over was the difference in the game. At some point, Purdue is going to be punished for starting slow, but that night wasn’t tonight.
The second half started with more of the same. Purdue pounded the ball inside to Edey, and Green and Cleveland provided the scoring for the Noles. Green, in particular, found his stroke from deep, punishing the Purdue guards for giving him room to pull from deep. Despite the Seminoles performing better on the offensive end than they have all season, the Boilermakers kept plugging away, and kept Coach Hamilton’s team at arms length.
Purdue was up 48-47 at the 13 minute mark before Smith and Furst fueled a 7 point run featuring a Smith layup, and a Furst dunk followed by a 3 pointer, both off a Smith assist. Purdue stretched the lead to 55-47, and forced a Leonard Hamilton timeout to staunch the bleeding. His team would not get within a point the rest of the game.
Midway through the second half Purdue held a 6 point lead. An offensive board by Gillis pushed the lead to 8 before, before a 5 point FSU run with Edey on the bench brought them back into the game. Full credit to Florida State, at several points in the game, it looked like Purdue was about to hit them with a knock out run, but it never materialized. You could tell they were fighting for their season, at home, and this isn’t Coach Hamilton’s first rodeo. HE had his team ready to play.
Purdue held a 3 point lead with 6 minutes to go before Smith and Loyer went on a 6 point run, featuring layups from both and a pair of free throws by Smith to extend the lead to 9. Purdue’s freshman back court responded to the challenge on the road, providing points when Boilermakers needed them the most.
Coming down the stretch, Florida State ran out of gas on offense and the Boilermakers kept picking up points, building an 11 point lead before the Noles drilled a 3 with 1:07 remaining to close the gap to 8. Purdue entered the free throw portion of the game and came through in the clutch. Morton stepped to the line and drilled a pair, followed by Brandon Newman hitting 2, and David Jenkins hitting 2. That streak was broken after Jenkins missed a pair, but the Seminoles couldn’t make an appreciable dent in the lead. Newman stepped back to the line, with 12 seconds remaining, knocked down a pair, and Purdue took a 10 point win back north to Indiana.
Zach Edey led all scorers with 25 points but his 8 rebounds did not lead Purdue. That honor went to Braden Smith. The shortest player on either team pulled down 9 boards, handed out 7 assists, snagged 2 steals and put in 13 points for good measure. The freshman point guard only committed 2 turnovers despite Florida State’s squad of long armed mutants pressuring him all game. Needless to say, every coach in the Midwest is scratching their heads and trying to figure out how they let him go to Purdue, essentially unopposed.
Overall, this wasn’t Purdue’s best effort, but any road win, even a road win against a team struggling like FSU, is a good win. Purdue needed their young guards to come through, and Smith and Loyer combined for 24 points, 11 assists, 9 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers. Another great night for Purdue’s starting back court. Keep in mind, if everything goes according to plan, they’ll be Purdue’s starting back court through the 2025-26 season. That should help everyone sleep soundly tonight.
Fifth ranked Purdue next takes the court on Sunday, December 4th, when they open the Big10 season at home against Minnesota.