The Purdue Boilermakers were able to gain control and maintain it on Monday evening to grab an important non-conference victory over the Xavier Musketeers, 83-71. A sold out Mackey Arena crowd were able to see the first real test for this version of the Boilermakers who entered the game as the #2 overall team in the country and saw the Boilers control the game from the opening tipoff. The Musketeers were only able to hold the lead for a total of 22 seconds, all at the start of the game when they led 2-0. It was all Purdue after that point as the Boilers controlled the tempo and the flow of the game, even though they were unable to truly land a knockout blow.
Xavier played a tough game and showed the capabilities of being a tough NCAA Tourney caliber team that will make some noise in the very tough Big East that features top ranked teams in Marquette, UCONN, and Creighton.
Let’s rebound the keys from last nights game!
1 | Feed Edey and Let Him Go To Work
This was finally a game where Edey was going to get a chance to play more than 20 minutes and he really had the chance to make an early season statement because of it. The big man grabbed 28 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks although he struggled from the field by only going 9-17. Many of those misses were shots he typically makes which would have likely made for a 40 point game in just the third game of the season.
Edey had a bit of a quiet first half going 3-7 from the field and scoring 8 points while grabbing 5 rebounds but he came out and dominated early in the second half to help Purdue establish control of the game. With that dominance in the second half, Edey was able to pull defenders with him and open up driving lanes and shots from the outside.
Edey’s ability to have a sun-like gravitational pull on games from the inside will give opportunities to every one else. When everyone else is shooting a combined 46.3% from three as a team, I’d say letting Edey go to work is helping. That needs to continue to happen and Zach getting 15-20 shots per game needs to be the standard moving forward.
Zach was just ‘ok’ tonight and still managed to grab 28 and 11. If he was playing at his ‘A game’ level, he goes off for 40 or more and 15 boards. That kind of game against Xavier would be ESPN top story worthy. He’ll have multiple games like that this season.
2 | Cut Off Driving Lanes to the Rim
Xavier’s offense is so much fun to watch. Lots of ball handlers, lots of shooters, and lots of players with the ability to drive into the lane. It can drive an opposing coach bonkers but Purdue really did a great job of forcing Xavier into the shots they wanted them to take. Xavier just did a heck of a job hitting those tough shots time and again.
Purdue’s ability to defend the perimeter this season has seen a considerable increase with the addition of Cam Heide, Myles Colvin, and Lance Jones along with Ethan Morton’s role seemingly more defined this season. Purdue’s defense, with Edey in the middle, is trying to force those tough shots and more often times than not they will lead to missed shots. Purdue must do a better job of cutting off rebounding opportunities that have led to them being outscored in second chance points in the last two games.
Sometimes you have to tip your hat to players who make plays and hit tough shots. Purdue did an ok job of cutting off driving lanes and not giving up a lot of easy buckets. The issue was giving up a lot of offensive rebounds in a second straight game.
3 | Hold the Xavier Duo of Claude & Olivari in Check
Purdue did a pretty good job containing Olivari to just 6 points on 2-8 shooting but Claude was a very efficient and effective 6-11 from the field for 15 points along with 6 assists. Purdue did force the duo into 7 total turnovers which Purdue was able to convert into 10 points (Xavier had 10 total turnovers) but Claude was able to hit some big shots to keep Xavier within striking distance. Purdue’s defense was able to make things hard enough that Xavier just couldn’t get closer than six before Purdue pulled back to a fourteen point lead and maintained a double digit lead for the rest of the game
Again, holding one of the two primary scorers well below their average is great but had Claude been a bit more of a selfish player there is a good chance he could have gone for 20. The perimeter defenders not named Lance Jones need to do a better job of not getting caught trailing behind the ball handler after a screen and leaving the rest of the team in bad positions for mid-range jumpers.
And 1 | Get the Power Forwards Going
If you were looking at just the points the power forwards provided, there wasn’t much there against the Musketeers. Furst led the way with 5 points and although those points were really impactful and his time on the court showed growth from the previous two games, the position is really struggling. Kaufman-Renn had just 1 point on 0-2 shooting while Gillis had 2 points on 1-3 shooting. The fact remains: this position needs more from it if Purdue is going to reach the ceiling they have for themselves this season.
Unlike last year where the power forward position was the third scoring option most of the season, this season it is pretty clear that it will be the 5th option amongst the starters. They aren’t needed to be scorers in that grouping that features Edey, Smith, Jones, and Loyer but the second group needs someone to step up to be a threat. That’s where TKR and Gillis need to start looking to score and why TKR should go back to being the secondary post and not the starting power forward.
TKR, Gillis, and Furst need to do more to help Purdue reach their ceiling. It isn’t even the scoring that need to uptick but rather they need to be limiting offensive rebounds from opponents and grabbing offensive boards on the other end. Those three totaled only 8 rebounds and didn’t get a single offensive rebound. That is something that Furst said needs to change in his post game comments.
Didn’t get the score right as the teams exploded in the second half to score to score 46 and 42, respectively. Purdue shot 14-26 from the field and 3-7 from behind the arc but really made their way at the free throw line. Led by Edey’s 8-9 there in the second half, Purdue shot 15-17 from the free throw line. There is no shame in giving up 42 points when 10 to 12 of those were really difficult shots that Xavier hit at key times. Sometimes you just tip your hat, throw the ball inbounds, and go get yourself a bucket. That’s what Purdue did against the Musketeers.
Overall, Purdue played just ok. They were never able to get the stops they needed on defense to go on a big run that would have ended the game nor were they able to make the shots they needed to when the did get those stops. The guards limited their turnovers for the most part with Jones and Smith have three a piece but those are probably numbers you can live with when they both account for 12 assists.
Overall, not a bad game and the fact Purdue could play just ok and win by 12 is a testament to how good of a team they are. Xavier fans largely feel like they played incredibly well and that might be about as well as Xavier could play missing two of their primary players this season, and they still got beat by 12.