Lance Jones: 20 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast
Braden Smith: 19 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast
Zach Edey: 18 pts, 13 reb, 2 ast
Tyler Wahl: 20 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast
The first half started out a little sluggish for the Boilermakers. A few turnovers and some whiffs on defense let Wisconsin get out to a 4-point lead that they’d carry for a little bit. It probably felt like a weight of the shoulders when Zach Edey started 3-4 at the foul line. But there’s a reason that these are the best two teams in the conference. The Boilers and Badgers continued to battle. Purdue would tighten up defensively when the second unit came in and sparked an 11-3 run. This would give Purdue a 6-point lead. The offense was truly ran by the guards for Purdue as Smith, Jones, and Loyer combined for 25 points in the first. It took 15 minutes for Zach to get his first field goal off as he was often doubled or tripled down low. The one thing Purdue struggled with was outside shooting as they were 1 of 5 from deep. Wisconsin shot 3-8 so nobody lit the rims on fire. It was just good-ole smashmouth basketball (the refs swallowed their whistles a little bit). Purdue would lead 34-32 at half.
In the second half, the goal seemed obvious: get the ball in low to your bigs. Edey and TKR started to get going with strong moves to the basket. Purdue clamped down on defense (Wisconsin also looked tired) and absolutely clogged the lane on drives. The lead got as high as 10 before Wisconsin would try and counter punch. And counter punch they did. A 7 point run that included multiple Purdue turnovers got Wisconsin to within 3. At this point, Edey picked up his second foul and got a breather until about the 8 minute mark. But Purdue would continue playing solid defense. At the under-8 timeout, Purdue had carved out a 6-point lead. That lead would shrink to 2 fast as Wisconsin scored back-to-back buckets. Purdue would score again but missed a few front-ends which would balloon the lead. At the under-4 timeout, Purdue was up 4 with the ball. Both teams were in the bonus and the crowd was loud. The teams would exchange some free throws and a huge Fletcher Loyer jumper to give Purdue a 5-point lead with 1:45 left. Then the defense put Wisconsin in an absolute chokehold. Wisconsin couldn’t even get shots off, let alone good or bad looks. Braden Smith, Mason Gillis, and Zach Edey had active hands and did a fantastic job not to foul. Wisconsin would finally get a putback shot with 37.7 seconds left and then a steal gave them a transition dunk. There was one last scare as Purdue was up 5 with 28.8 seconds left (which took about 10 minutes to drain). Purdue would seal it at the line and win 75-69.
Purdue now takes a 1.5 game lead in the Big Ten race. They’ll see the Badgers again in the regular-season finale. Now, it’s hate week, as Purdue will host Indiana next Saturday. Boiler Up!