The Purdue Boilermakers grinded out a 73-63 victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the first round of the Maui Invitational. After struggling in the first half, Purdue found their legs on the defensive end and outscored the #11 ranked Bulldogs 43-28 in the second half. Purdue did not shoot the ball well from behind the arc going only 4-17 but didn’t appear to panic when shots weren’t going down. Instead, the Boilers looked to a suffocating defense and turned the Zags over nine times in the second half.
Let’s take a look back at the important keys to the game in ‘The Rebound!’
1 | Control the Offense and Defensive Boards
Purdue did a really poor job preventing the Bulldogs from grabbing offensive rebounds, something that is a bit of a concerning trend now four games into the season. Gonzaga was able to grab 13 offensive rebounds and turned those into 10 second chance points. Although the second half appeared to be better in that regard, it did not start that way with the Zags getting 7 offensive boards in the second half but only gave up 2 second chance points. That is something that will come back and bite the Boilers hard sooner rather than later if it isn’t cleaned up.
Overall, the Boilers were even in total rebounds with 38 with Gonzaga and outrebounded them 21-17 in the second half. This is a part of the game that Purdue should dominate against most teams as it is really effort and focused based but appears a lack of discipline once a shot goes up is creating the issues. Players appear to just assume Edey will grab the rebound and don’t fully box out their man once the shot goes up and long rebounds are getting away from the Boilers. Coach Painter has long preached that when shots don’t go down, players can still play defense, pass the ball, box out, and rebound. It’s all about effort.
Purdue has got to do a better job preventing teams getting second chances on the offensive boards and has to leverage their advantage rebounding the ball into limiting possessions and gaining some of their own. That didn’t really happen tonight.
2 | Continue to Share the Basketball to Get Open Shots
Purdue entered the game assisting on about 77% of their made field goals but that trend did not continue against Gonzaga. The Boilers only had 11 assists on 28 made baskets for a percentage of only 39%. Purdue could have had a lot more had Purdue shot the ball at a better percentage as the Boilers only shot 28-60 (46.7%) overall and a paltry 4-17 (23.5%) from behind the arc.
Braden Smith led the Boilermakers with 6 assists and Mason Gillis chipped in 3 of his own but only two other players had an assist. That low of a percentage of getting assists typically doesn’t bode well for the Boilers as the Boilers are at their best when they make the extra pass to get the defense to move side to side. When that happens, they get better looks from the entire field and that was really the case on Colvin’s first made three late in the second half.
Again, Purdue just didn’t share the ball well enough to make Gonzaga really work hard defensively until their late run in the second half. Purdue needs to hit those open shots when they have them but Purdue just didn’t pass the ball well enough in the first 3/4’s of the ballgame.
3 | Limit Gonzaga’s Trips to the Foul Line
Purdue had another really clean game defensively, especially in the second half. Purdue only fouled 12 times and Gonzaga only got 8 total trips to the free throw line. In comparison, Purdue drew 19 fouls (it really should have been more but the refs again swallowed their whistles when Zach took shots inside) and went 13-16 from the foul line. Zach went 9-10 by himself and may have had 10-12 more free throws himself.
Anytime you can outscore your opponent by 8 points at the foul line it bodes well for your ability to win the game. That should have been an even larger margin had the refs not been hesitant to continue calling the fouls on Gonzaga’s big men.
And 1 | Don’t Turn the Ball Over
Purdue did an ok job of not turning the ball over but there were some really boneheaded turnovers. Gonzaga was able to turn the 13 turnovers Purdue had into 19 points. That is not a good percentage for the Boilers who need to take care of the ball. The number of turnovers wasn’t terrible but needs to be at or below 10 to really limit those easy points and force an opponent to play their best game to beat Purdue. In comparison, Gonzaga had 14 turnovers while Purdue was able to turn those into only 13 points.
There are a lot of things that didn’t allow Purdue to run away with this game. Poor 3pt shooting and giving up second chance points off offensive rebounds. The most glaring is the 19 points Gonzaga got off Purdue’s turnovers. Cut those in half and Purdue walks away with almost a twenty point win against the eleventh ranked team in the country. Many of those can be cleaned up by guys not doing things their roles don’t call for like TKR dribbling off the top of the key, Gillis trying to do too much, and Loyer inexplicably have three bad ones.
Just another average showing for the Boilers here. Only have 13 turnovers is good against a very solid defensive team in Gonzaga that typically makes opponents feel uncomfortable but giving up 19 points off those turnovers isn’t good. Turnovers are going to happen but the bad ones from veteran guys need to stop. Gillis and Loyer shouldn’t be having 3 a piece when they aren’t primary ball handlers.
Play of the Game:
With Purdue trailing 40-43, Purdue went on a 12-2 that was highlighted by a great alley-oop from Braden Smith to a cutting Camden Heide. The dunk vaulted Purdue to grabbing a 52-45 lead and although Gonzaga ended up pulling within three, Purdue had established itself in the second half and it felt like the Boilers had finally wrestled controlled of the game.
@HammerAndRails Play of the Game versus @ZagMBB.@3bradensmith to @CamdenHeide for the alley-oop to spark a 12-2 run that saw @BoilerBall go from down 40-43 to up 52-45 from 1518-10:08 pic.twitter.com/AOc1JpN1Hz— Jed Wilkinson (@PurdueWilkie) November 21, 2023
Player of the Game:
With Purdue having their first game of the season where they really struggled to shoot from behind the arc, the reigning National Player of the Year had another big night with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Had Edey not played just ok, something he echoed in his post game interview, he likely gets 30 points. There will be a game soon where he hits everything and there is a good chance he has a game where he goes for 40 or 50 points.