No Zach Edey? Enter Trey Kaufman-Renn for the Purdue Boilermakers to lead them to a 12-0 record after their 74-53 win over the New Orleans Privateers. This is just the fourth time in program history Purdue stands at 12-0. Zach Edey missed the game just before the holiday break due to illness while some other players, like Caleb Furst, are also struggling through some illness issues as well. Missing Edey’s presence and a bit of a lack of intensity showed as Purdue struggled through more than 10 minutes of the first half to play with intensity on the defensive end and frequently lost track of Jordan Johnson behind the arc.
In the first 11 minutes of the first half, New Orleans was able to find Johnson behind the arc off screens and flares to the tune of 9 points before clamping down on the Privateers’ best player. At that point, Purdue had only turned the ball over once but shot only 2 of 7 from behind the arc (28.5%). However, after the slow start Purdue was able to go on a 24-2 run in the final 8:57 of the first half to take a 41-21 lead into the second half.
The momentum Purdue was able to take off a steal and slam by Brandon Newman to close the first half was wiped away as New Orleans started the 2nd half on a 14-6 run and pulled within 13 points at the 14:59 mark. It wasn’t until the 13:30 mark that the intensity and focus on the defensive end once again ramped up and Purdue was able to take control of the game. However, as in games past, Purdue seemed content to simply play with their inferior opponent rather than continue to extend their lead and push it to a point well beyond their first half lead.
Purdue was led by Trey Kaufman-Renn who, in Edey’s absence, played a very Edey like efficient game going 8-10 from the field and shooting 8-10 from the free throw line to get a game high 24 points. The only other Purdue player to break double digits was Mason Gillis with 11 as Purdue once again struggled to shoot the ball well from behind the arc going 5-19 for 26%. This now marks the third game in a row Purdue has shot 26% or worse from behind the arc and has now shot 15-73 in that span for 20.5%.
Other positives were the great free throw shooting with Purdue hitting 19-24 for 79.2%, limiting their turnovers to just 11 on the night, and largely staying out of foul trouble as only Caleb Furst had more than 2 fouls (4). Some negatives were that Purdue struggled to dominate the boards without Edey as they only grabbed 24 total rebounds and assisted on only 11 of the 25 made baskets. Those numbers obviously go up with Edey on the floor but in his absence they can be made up for through better effort consistently throughout the game and better attention to detail.
At some point though, the concerning percentages from behind the arc will bite Purdue in a loss but what makes them even more frustrating is that these are all good to great looks off good to great offense. The looks will eventually start to fall and the hope is that it will lead to some sense of middle ground rather than the hot (47%, 42%, 41%) and the cold (10.5%, 12%, 24%).
Purdue will rest through Christmas and return to face Florida A&M on December 29th. That team is, somehow, rated lower than New Orleans in most every analytics view (Kenpom 357th vs. 344th). I think Purdue may need to make a Christmas wish for Edey to come back healthy and for Santa to break the cold spell of shooting from behind the arc.
Player of the Game:
Trey Kaufman-Renn: This is a no-brainer as TKR took the opportunity provided to him for more minutes and went for a career high 24 points on just 8-10 shooting from the floor. He also pitched in 2 rebounds and 2 assists. When he can get the ball in the low post, he is almost as automatic as Edey has become.
Moment of the Game:
Brandon Newman Steal & Slam: It was right before the half with Purdue in the midst of a 22-2 run when New Orleans was trying to run what appeared to be action for Johnson but Newman was able to slide off his man and poke the ball out from behind, gather the ball, and race down court for a two handed jam with just 2 seconds left on the clock in the first half.