Purdue dug itself into a hole early tonight, and despite their last minute push, they could not overcome to defeat #14 Louisville on the road in a not-so-hostile environment. This is Purdue’s first loss in the B1G/ACC Challenge since 2008, when they lost to #4 Duke 76-60 (Louisville was also the first ranked team Purdue faced in the Challenge since that Duke game).
Despite their poorest offensive performance this season, Purdue was still within reach with a minute left to go as Louisville tried to out-miss Purdue most of the game. Purdue could never get its offense moving as the front court continued to make mistakes early on. At the half, Haas, Swanigan, and V. Edwards were a combined 0-12 from the field (overall Purdue was 7-28 in the 1st half).
Typically, when Purdue’s shots aren’t falling, they can rely on their superior front court to get baskets. But when the two big men score an average of 0.5 points in the first half, it’s not going to be a good night. While Swanigan eventually started to score (more on him later), Haas couldn’t do anything tonight. Sure, there were probably some plays where he was being fouled and it wasn’t called, but Louisville frustrated him to the point where he couldn’t get anything done, going 2-9 on the night. Unless Purdue can pull defenders away from Haas with a stronger perimeter game (like the Auburn game), I wouldn’t be surprised if defenses continue to frustrate Haas the rest of the season.
Then again, I too would play like crap if the ESPN reporters were holding my other shoe hostage:
(Figured I’d add some sarcasm to a post-loss wrap-up.)
Tonight, Purdue had 17 turnovers, gifting Louisville an additional 11 points. You may think that is really bad (and it is), but unfortunately, Purdue was already averaging 16 turnovers a game coming into tonight. Purdue’s offense has had issues most of the season, but they have been masked in a few games by outstanding shooting and perimeter ball movement, like we saw in Cancun. But when a few shots stop falling, the stink of those flaws are no longer covered up. Perhaps their sloppy performances against Georgia State and NJIT were a sign of things to come?
Despite a slow start, Swanigan recorded another double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds and was the leading scorer for both teams. PJ Thompson followed with 13 points, while Cline was perfect from beyond the arc, shooting 3-3.
Overall, this was a frustrating game to watch. Louisville kept missing shots, the crowd at Papa John’s McDonald’s All-American Chipotle Pizza Dome was quiet and unintimidating for most of the game (perhaps the quietest road crowd Purdue will face all season (yes that includes Penn State)), yet Purdue couldn’t capitalize early on and waited too long to make their comeback.
I wouldn’t get too discouraged from this game. If Purdue made 2 or 3 more jumpers in the 1st half, Purdue could have pulled defenders away from Haas and Swanigan so they can eat and get easy baskets. It just comes down to how quickly Purdue can get their offense rolling early in the game. But if Purdue continues to play like they did in the first 35 minutes of this game, it’s going to be a long winter in West Lafayette.