The Purdue Boilermakers took the Northwestern Wildcats absolute best punch for a second time this season and got a 105-96 victory in overtime along with fireworks at the end. A game that saw Northwestern shoot 14-27 (51.9%) from behind the arc and 38-66 (57.6%) overall from the field while turning the ball over only 8 times all game still wasn’t enough for the visitors. This seems to be a second game in a row where, when you look strictly at the stat sheet, would likely lead one to believe that Purdue would have lost following Purdue getting out rebounded and turning it over 17 times at Rutgers.
Purdue withstood Northwestern’s hot shooting in the first half as the visitors shot 60% from the floor and 61.5% from behind the arc (8-13). Purdue just seemed to really struggle with a lot of the actions that Northwestern was running but were able to go on a 15-2 run to get Purdue in control headed into the second half. Purdue was able to convert on 10-13 free throws in that first half but the second half would tell a totally different story for the Boilers.
Northwestern came out of the second half and were able to go on an extended run of their own to take their first lead of the second half at 57-56. That 16-9 run erased any advantage that the Boilers had and the game became a back and forth affair until Northwestern was able to take a 78-73 lead with just 2:37 left in the game. Purdue quickly responded and went on a 7-0 run of their own over just 1:43 to take an 80-78 lead before Ty Berry got a foul call on a semi-wild three point attempt and he converted all three to take an 81-80 lead.
Purdue was able to get a great set called for Zach Edey with under 15 seconds left and the big man drew a foul where he split the pair of free throws to tie the game at 81. Boo Buie came down and missed a floater with no time remaining although Head Coach Chris Collins shows a massive amount of disdain for what he perceived as a foul (that wasn’t there).
In that second half, Purdue shot just 8-20 (40%) from the free throw line but turned the ball over just twice. In fact, after turning the ball over seven times in the first half, Purdue turned the ball over only three times the rest of the game, a key part of the Boilers’ victory in the end. The biggest key to the Boilermaker victory though? Fletcher Loyer hitting an absolutely massive three pointer to push Purdue’s lead in overtime to six at 96-90 with just 39 seconds left.
The sophomore guard struggled defensively again against Northwestern who has clearly figured out actions they can use to take advantage of his deficiencies on the defensive end but after scoring 12 points in the first half, he was limited to that single three pointer in overtime. The struggle was so apparent that Head Coach Matt Painter started switching offense for defense at the seven minute mark of the first half, something not seen from a Painter coached team. Loyer finished with 15 points on 6-9 shooting from the field (3-5 behind the arc).
Zach Edey was once again a dominant force inside as it was clear the Boilers were going to ride him in overtime with Purdue’s first ten points of the overtime. Northwestern was a bit overwhelmed with the big man but seemed to be willing to try and trade Edey dunks for the clean looks they felt they could generate on the offensive end. Edey did struggle from the free throw line as the usually very sure shooter went 8-17 from the free throw line on his way to 30 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block in 42 minutes of action.
However big Loyer’s three and Zach’s dunks were in overtime, it was Lance Jones’ ability to hit big free throws and more big shots from behind the arc that allowed the Boilers to win this game. Jones went 5-7 from behind the arc and 8-14 overall on his way to 26 points. He ended up really keeping Northwestern just out of reach in overtime as he hit 5-6 free throws late to keep the lead at two possessions.
The game ended in one of the more wild finishes Mackey Arena has ever seen as Northwestern missed a layup with under 5 seconds left and Head Coach Chris Collins ran onto the floor and had an absolute meltdown. The referees awarded him a technical foul and immediately ejected him from the game. Boo Buie also received a technical foul and Mason Gillis was able to step to the free throw line and hit all four of those with roughly one second left on the clock. It will be interesting to see what the B1G does in retaliation for Collins’ behavior as entering the court when there is still time on the clock likely won’t be viewed positively.
Chris Collins was ejected in the final seconds of tonight's OT loss at No. 2 Purdue.— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 1, 2024
The Northwestern coach shook hands with Matt Painter and dapped up Zach Edey on his way to the locker room. pic.twitter.com/ghqLZfjNxa
A day after being snubbed for consideration of the Bob Cousy Award that is presented to the nation’s best point guard, Braden Smith was masterful. He had 11 points and 4 steals but had 16 assists to just 2 turnovers. The sophomore point guard was clearly a step ahead and Northwestern’s guards had trouble keeping him in front of them. The 16 assists is a career high for Smith and the second most ever in a single game for a Boilermaker. Bruce Parkinson’s 18 in the 1974-1975 season against Minnesota continues to stand.
In the end, Purdue was able to escape with a win against a team that played at their absolute peak. Northwestern’s 96 points ties a season high (Illinois in overtime) with the previous game against Purdue where they scored 92 in overtime being the second most. This very well might be a bad matchup for the Boilers but Northwestern was able to generate a lot of clean looks for themselves that the defense should have been able to contest better. The Boilers were able to dominate the rebounds again with a 36-22 advantage and controlled the paint with 46 points to Northwestern’s 34.
The Boilers will travel to Wisconsin in the biggest matchup of the B1G season to take on a top 10 Badger squad that will be looking to establish themselves as the clear favorite in the B1G and could possibly be in the discussion for a 1 seed in March. The game will be on Sunday at 1:00pm on CBS.