The Purdue Boilermakers were able to grind out a 78-75 victory over the Marquette Golden Eagles in the finals of the Maui Invitational to cap another impressive run after winning the Phil Knight Invitational in 2022. The Boilers shot 46% from behind the arc and outrebounded Marquette 36-23 but found it difficult to ward off another frantic comeback attempt from the Golden Eagles. The game played out almost exactly as it did in the matchup between these two programs in Mackey Arena last season.
Let’s see how the Boilers fared from the keys in ‘The Three Pointer!’
1 | Contain Kam Jones
Just like it was mentioned in ‘The Three Pointer,’ it wasn’t likely that Purdue would be able to just shut down Jones. He is just that darn good of a ball player. What they needed to do was make it difficult and make him a bit less efficient getting those points. He grabbed 17 points but went just 7-13 from the field. He was able to get his teammates more involved with 5 assists and that’s what makes him and Marquette so good.
The way they share this Marquette team shares the basketball makes it so hard to defend them over the course of 40 minutes. It is truly an elite level type of basketball. As a team, Marquette only had 9 turnovers but had 17 assists on 30 made baskets.
Purdue did a great job holding Jones to 7-13 but he was able to be effective in other ways with 5 assists and 0 turnovers.
2 | Dominate the Rebounding Margin
This may be where Purdue really won the game for themselves and leveraged what should be a strength against any other team in the country. Purdue dominated the boards with a +13 advantage of 36-23 and that led to 20 second chance points. The Boilers had 13 offensive rebounds to only 5 for Marquette and Marquette was only able to generate 4 second chance points. That’s the first time this season an opponent has had less than double figure second chance points.
For the first time this season, Purdue leveraged one of their biggest strengths in a way that hindered an opponent severely. Purdue used that to push their lead all the way to 15 before getting stale over the last half of the second half. That needs to be cleaned up but the Boilers continued to rebound well through that time.
3 | Have to Find Consistency from Outside
Purdue started hot from beyond the arc going 7-9, highlighted by Lance Jones’ 70+ foot heave to close the first half. The Boilers were consistent in making an extra pass to get another guy a better look than the one they would generate taking a shot too early. That went away a bit in the second half as Marquette really ramped up the defense but Purdue still ended the game 10-21 for 46%.
Purdue took some really smart shots from beyond the arc off some really great extra passes. That was highlighted at one point where all give Boilermakers touched the ball when the ball was entered into Furst before being kicked out and then passed around the perimeter to Smith for a late shot clock three. That type of ball movement is so hard to defend and is a real spirit killer for defenses.
And 1 | Handle the Pressure Defense Well
Probably the worst aspect of this game is what Marquette really hangs their hats on: pressuring teams into mistakes. Purdue handled that really, really well for the first 30 minutes of the game and pushed their lead to 15 at the 18:10 mark of the second half. The Boilers still held a 10 points lead with 6:07 left after Purdue rebounded from a Marquette run that saw that 15 point lead evaporate to just 3 but bounced back quickly from 10:37 to that 6:07 mark. From there, it just seemed Purdue was holding on for dear life.
The Boilers were guilty of standing around on the perimeter trying to let Zach Edey grind the game away late from the inside. That’s a great way to close out a game and all with the reigning National Player of the Year but the other four guys on the floor can’t just stand around and be spectators. They have got to continue to go set screens and make themselves available for a kick out or dump pass.
Purdue ended the game with 15 turnovers again with Marquette scoring 15 points off those turnovers. That’s a bit of an issue for the Boilers so far this season that needs to get cleaned up as the Boilers just make really boneheaded plays at times. The issue is that those bad turnovers have led to really easy points for opponents. That’ll lead to Purdue losses if it isn’t cleaned up.
This is a game that, if Purdue cleaned up the turnovers and handled the pressure like a mature team should, would have been a 20+ point victory for Purdue. Instead, Purdue had to sweat out the final minutes of a game rather than having an extended celebration in Hawaii.
Purdue won 78-75, so another good guess here with the final score. Purdue played a gauntlet of a tournament schedule playing #11 Gonzaga, #7 Tennessee, and #4 Marquette. That’s about as elite of a schedule as you can have to simulate a late NCAA Tourney run. The turnovers and poor free throw shooting, especially in the final six minutes is a concern, but for 34 minutes the Boilers outplayed one of the best teams in the country and controlled the game. This one played out almost exactly as it did last year when the Golden Eagles clawed their way back from a big deficit to showcase their high level ability
Overall Grade: B+
Hard to give anything less than an A here considering the opponent and the last three games but had Purdue played the way they did the first 34 minutes this game wouldn’t have been close. That would have been an utter statement like they did last season in Portland. Still, Purdue played well over the course of three games and were able to grind out a victory. The free throw issues that have reared up need to get cleaned up as well.
Play of the Game:
With Purdue clinging to a one point lead after watching an 11 point lead evaporate over the final 6:07, Edey got a post entry with less than 30 seconds left in the game. Marquette collapsed and forced him to kick it back out where the ball found Braden Smith with time low on the shot clock. Smith hoisted up a three and Edey worked his way around one of the best rebounding big men in the country in Ighodaro to tip the miss back in with one hand. That’s the reigning National Player of the Year making a play that only a few guys can make in the country.
Player of the Game: Zach Edey
Edey was phenomenal against the Golden Eagles in the Maui Invitational Championship. The big man went for 28 points on 11-19 shooting and 15 total rebounds. Most importantly is that Edey grabbed 7 offensive rebounds to drive Purdue’s second chance points to 20. He did have 5 turnovers but that’s a big expected against a team like Marquette and when Purdue was doing him no favors in the way they finished the game offensively. Edey is now averaging 23 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks.