If Monday was the Braden Smith game and Tuesday was the Fletcher Loyer game then this game was the team game. Everyone had a moment to shine. No shine was brighter in the moment than the three quarters plus court shot that Lance Jones hit at the end of the first half to send Purdue into halftime up 45-33 and electrified the Boiler friendly crowd here in Honolulu. Just a reminder that in game two against Tennessee Purdue had just two guys make a field goal in the first half. In today’s first half Purdue had six players make a field goal. And those that didn’t score made big contributions. Myles Colvin had two great entry passes to Zach Edey that resulted in easy buckets for the reigning National Player of the Year. Caleb Furst was all over on defense and grabbed a couple extra possession for Purdue by getting his hands onto the ball following a couple Marquette rebounds. Not on the stat sheet but incredibly important.
In comparison to the wrestling match that was the game against Tennessee this game against Marquette felt more like actual basketball. There was a flow to it. The refs kept most of the dirty and aggressive play in control and weren’t noticed throughout the first half. That’s exactly what officials should do. Did they make some mistakes? Of course, but no one expects (well no reasonable person expects) officials to be perfect. It certainly was a game that was much more fun to watch.
One of the knocks on Purdue going into this one was their inability to consistently hit three pointers. Well, in the first half, including the incredible one from Jones, Purdue was 7-9 and got contributions from five different players. Again, a standout team performance. It’s incredible though to watch Zach Edey because he missed a few shots to start the game and had two points last I looked at the box score. Then, his second run happened and suddenly I look down and he finished the first half with 13 and six rebounds. It’s incredible how someone can have a quiet 13 and six in one half and yet he seems to do that time and time again. What a luxury he is.
The second half started out much like the first with Marquette playing like their hair was on fire, but at the same time being completely in control. Purdue just couldn’t match the intensity to start the half. It was a frustrating thing to watch as Purdue was out of sorts on defense with numerous missed assignments leading to easy buckets for the Golden Eagles. However, much like what happened in the first half, Purdue was able to calm down and find a way to get back in control.
It was again a well balanced offense that carried Purdue through a tough second half against a very good Marquette team. Both Edey and Smith had excellent second halves with each scoring in double figures and Edey dominating the glass as you’d expect. He had 9 rebounds in the half alone for a total of 15 on the day. Smith continued to find a way to get to the lane and though he often was seeking the and one after his layups amongst the trees he didn’t get the calls he was looking for.
But there were moments of brilliance for others as well including another great shot from Lance Jones that pushed the Purdue lead back to 10 with under six minutes to play. Gillis scrapped for some loose balls but couldn’t get much going on offense. Perhaps none more important than a loose ball scrum with 1:23 left in which Gillis got the tie up to give Purdue an extra possession. Unfortunately, nothing would come of it and Marquette would take it to within one at 76-75 with just 45 seconds to play.
At that point it was crunch time. Purdue needed someone to step up and who do you think that was? That’s right, Zach Edey with the tip-in of a buzzer beating Braden Smith three. Mason Gillis grabbed the ensuing rebound and was fouled. He went to the line with a chance to ice the game, and make up for some ill-advised shots, but was unable to put it in. But hey, that’s okay because we’ve got Zach Edey who rebounded the miss and was sent to the line with 6.2 left. Unfortunately he missed. At this point we were all sweating. Marquette had one last chance to tie it but it’s final shot fell harmlessly to the court. Purdue is your Maui Invitational champions.
In the end, nothing was easy against this Golden Eagles squad as they put together run after run with stifling defense all around including absolutely swarming defense every time that Zach Edey touched the ball. On offense, Marquette moved the ball efficiently and shot the ball extremely well. They finished the game an incredible 54% from the floor. Before you complain about that too much, remember that Marquette is 4th in the nation. This was a great win and a great tournament for Purdue who will be #1 on Monday for the third straight season. Zach Edey was named the Tournament MVP.