Sure, the final score is going to show that Purdue lost to Arkansa 81-77 today, but that score really doesn’t tell the whole story and doesn’t tell you why I’m so excited after watching that game.
The difficulty here is that I was trying my best to watch two sporting events at once as Purdue football was taking on Nebraska on my TV while Purdue basketball was taking on Arkansas on my iPad (it’s a big iPad though, 12.9 inches baby!). So you’re only giving each game about a quarter of your attention while the rest of your attention is elsewhere because you can’t truly focus on anything because it’s 2023 and the internet has broken our brains. Instead, I only took in bits and pieces of the first half. What I did see I didn’t love.
Zach Edey got his first foul of the game basically as soon as the ball was tipped. He then went to the bench and upon his return he got a second foul with about 10 minutes left in the half. So, Purdue played the vast majority of the first half without the reigning national player of the year. There’s good and bad in that. This is an exhibition so it won’t matter at the end of the season so why not see what the team can do without Edey in there with them. The bad is that as a fan you get frustrated seeing a team looking a bit disjointed without their star. Purdue certainly looked disjointed without Edey for a bit. They found themselves in a bit of a whole and Trey Kaufman-Renn was having trouble against the athleticism of Arkansas as he saw his shot blocked on at least three occasions.
Purdue headed into halftime down five points. Before I go any further I want to point out to everyone that Arkansas is a good team. They reached the Sweet 16 last year and are athletic as hell. They are long and experienced with a very good, though seemingly very angry, coach. This game is a good test because these are the type of teams that Purdue has struggled against in recent years. Fast. Athletic. Long. The blueprint to taking down Purdue, which I guess if we are splitting hairs they did, but it’s an exhibition and not exactly something I’m going to take to heart. The second half though showed me what I needed to see.
With Purdue football at halftime it was time for basketball to take its rightful spot on the 70 inch TV. Football was relegated to the iPad and I watched with glee as Purdue came back from five down to take the lead and then go back and forth. These two teams weren’t always playing pretty basketball, and early season refs didn’t make the game any smoother, but it was so great just to see Purdue battle back and have an opportunity to win. At the end of regulation Purdue had the ball and around 22 seconds with the game tied. Unfortunately, it resulted in a turnover (I believe it was one of Braden Smith’s seven on the night) but Arkansas was unable to capitalize and we headed to overtime.
Overtime was a whole different story as Purdue wasn’t ever able to get anything going and Arkansas rode the home crowd to a victory. In the free five minutes Purdue was able to generate just eight points. Rather than go blow by blow through what I saw I’m gonna hit some highlights. This was, after all, an exhibition.
- Lance Jones didn’t shoot the ball well, 2-11, but I loved his energy moving the ball and his defensive mindset. He’s really going to be a great compliment to Braden Smith.
- Purdue outrebounded Arkansas 42-28.
- Purdue only shot 38.8% from the floor and was in a position to win this game at the end. Yes, that’s the same problem they found themselves in last year, but rather than focusing on the negative I’m noting how impressive that is.
- It took a ridiculous three pointer from Arkansas to keep them in the game with time winding down. The shot was well guarded by Purdue and was honestly just a ridiculous shot. Hard to defend it better.
- Fletcher Loyer looked great in the second half where he scored 11 of his 13. This included a big three pointer and then an old fashioned three pointer on back to back trips.
- There was an issue with Braden Smith being injured at one point and heading to the bench. Unclear what it was but indications were perhaps a leg issue? He returned to the game and seemed fine.
This is an exhibition game and while I’m sure Painter wanted to win I’m sure he’s not mad that they lost. There were times last year I think where Purdue bought into their own hype. The guys at media day said as much when they indicated that they overlooked Fairleigh Dickinson. You’d think they wouldn’t need a reminder after that but I’m sure this loss is gonna sting, whether it counts in the record books or not.