Zach Edey: 35 pts, 14 reb, 3 blk
Braden Smith: 12 pts, 7 reb, 9 ast, 6 to
Boo Buie: 31 pts, 4 reb, 9 ast
Ty Berry: 21 pts, 2 reb, 4 ast
It felt very odd rooting against a team donning black and gold. That’s because the Wildcats decided to play copycat and wear their gothic inspired uniforms. The look is fine but just odd when the student section goes for a black out against the team in the Big Ten that wears black the most. Coming into this game, Purdue players seemed keen on revenge for last year’s loss in Evanston.
One of the main concerns coming in was how the refs would call this game. Last year, it was hack-a-Zach and moving screens seemed to be frowned upon rather than fouls against. To the credit of the referees, they called a pretty clean first half. When Zach Edey was fouled, a whistle was usually blown. To start, it appeared the Northwestern strategy would be to double Zach every time he touched the ball. This led to early threes from Fletcher Loyer and Camden Heide. There was never really a put-away run in the half, but Purdue did stretch its lead out to 13 after a Lance Jones 3. Northwestern would battle back a bit after some “50-50” calls went their way. Boo Buie, Ryan Langborg, and Ty Berry would account for 26 of NW’s points. The Cats really wanted to drive and kick under Zach Edey when he came to help. A lot of close jumpers fell. I cannot go without mentioning Braden Smith though. 6 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists while directing the offense was awesome. He deserved a few more assists as well since his driving skip passes to the corner didn’t fall. They were an absolute beauty though and Purdue would go into the half up 40-32.
The second half saw Northwestern hit every runner imaginable to shrink the lead to 1 by the under 16 timeout. It became a back-and-forth affair as the referees began to swallow their whistles a bit. Purdue would consistently go inside to Zach Edey but the shots were not falling nor being called fouls like the first half. Boo Buie began to heat up and kept burning Purdue on an inside fake move and a spinning floater. The following 8 minutes was pure chaos as nobody wanted to extend a lead. At the under 8, Purdue led 59-58 but Purdue would go into a stretch where they could not buy a bucket. No bounce seemed to go the Boilers way, whether it be a missed And-1 or a layup rolling out. Northwestern, on the other hand, seemed to have every bounce and roll go their way. At the under 4 timeout, the game was knotted at 70 after a stretch where Purdue went 1⁄2 at the foul line 5 straight times. No team would take larger than a 3-point lead into the minute. Purdue was up 74-73 with 1:03 to play. A Gillis turnover and Boo Buie free throw tied it at 74. That foul gave Jones his 5th. The following possession saw Braden Smith get fouled but called for a travel. Then Boo Buie hit a runner with 3.9 seconds left. A Mason Gillis football pass got Purdue a timeout with 2.7 seconds past half court. The inbound was over the top to Zach and he made a layup with under a second left. The Cats heave was short and they were onto OT.
Overtime saw each team blitzing as there were 3 straight 3’s between the two. Purdue would turn the ball over on back-to-back possession after gaining a one-point lead and Northwestern capitalized. A Zach Edey make pulled Purdue to within 1 with 34.1 seconds left to play. Purdue would foul with 25.2 and Brooks Barnhizer would make 1 of 2 free throws to put the Cats up 2. On the dump into Zach Edey, the famous over the back tip forced a turnover and Boo Buie made 2 free throws. Braden Smith would get fouled with 8.6 seconds left on a 3-pointer that was changed to a 2. He would make both but a no call after Loyer was bulldozed on the inbound led to 2 more NW free throws. They made both. Last-ditch efforts and a few false court-storms later (very upset no techs were called on those) and Purdue was downed 92-88. Purdue ended with 17 turnovers to Northwestern’s 3 and 10 missed free throws.
Some things don’t change. I think I am a jinx. Onto Iowa in Mackey.