Zach Edey: 17 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block
Fletcher Loyer: 13 points, 2 assists
Max Klesmit: 19 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist
Chucky Hepburn: 13 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
For the second straight game, Purdue looked to clinch a title. This time around, Purdue needed a win or Michigan loss to be crowned the solo Big Ten Champions. Michigan – Illinois tipped at 6 PM CT, 2 hours before the Purdue – Wisconsin game, so it was likely Purdue knew their status before their opening tip. Then Michigan and Illinois went into 2 overtimes, but Illinois came out with a victory, clinching the crown for the Boilermakers. Purdue still had a game to play, and they came up with a gritty win in which shots weren’t falling again.
Both teams came out a bit flat in this one as Purdue struggled to shoot the ball (again) but so did Wisconsin, as both teams teetered around the 25% mark for a while. Zach Edey began the game shooting 1-6 from the free throw line, which is highly uncharacteristic. Edey and Fletcher Loyer would lead Purdue at the half with 9 points apiece, but credit needs to be given to Brandon Newman. The junior out of Valpo got the start after his efforts against IU and he kept the energy up, forcing a few turnovers that led to layups on the other end. For the Badgers, it was Isaac Lindsey, who averaged 1.3 ppg before tonight who went 3-3 shooting and a season high 8 points. Edey proved to be a force inside as Wisconsin did not want to go inside on him. Purdue ended the half up 31-27.
As per the norm, a Purdue opponent decided to go nuclear in the second half, hitting 3 after 3. At the under 12 timeout, Wisconsin was 9-17 from deep, an absurd number. But somehow, Purdue was neck and neck with Wisconsin, going into the final ten minutes tied at 45. A back and forth battle would ensue, starting with Wisconsin cooling off a bit from deep. Wisconsin would hold a 53-52 lead with 6 minutes left. The game would go back and forth down to the wire. After a Wisconsin miss down deep, 2 Brandon Newman free throws put Purdue up 60-57 with 17 seconds left. Chucky Hepburn would get to the line for 1 and 1 with 9.6 ticks left and Hepburn would make both to make it 60-59. Braden Smith would go to the line for 2 and make both. Purdue again fouled with Wisconsin only in the single bonus, to which Wisconsin made both again. Then it was Ethan Morton’s turn with 4.4 seconds left, missing the first and hitting the second. A Wisconsin heave at the horn came up short and Purdue escaped with a win.
Things we already knew: Edey is the best player in the country, Purdue has really struggled lately from deep and the line, Purdue has too many turnovers. We also knew that Brandon Newman was worthy of starting, bringing high levels of energy to the court and providing clutch plays on both ends.
Purdue just looks slow on defense and a step behind everyone, leading to drives and midrange shots. It’s a long season but these things need to get better.
Purdue will take on Illinois in the regular season finale Sunday and try to keep a lock on a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Your Purdue Boilermakers are alone as Big Ten Champs! #25 is accomplished and there are more trophies to win. Just keep winning.