It was a tale of two halves for Purdue. Or maybe the tale of the first 15 minutes and the last 25.
Purdue started the game poorly and struggled to separate themselves from Cal State Fullerton. Haas and Vincent missed a few point blank shots, and it seemed like Purdue was rusty after a nearly 2 week break. While Cal State couldn’t do much offensively, it was enough to make the game close. Purdue went into the locker room with a 9 point lead, but it felt much lower than that.
Then Purdue came out firing in the 2nd half. Before you knew it, Purdue’s lead had ballooned into the double digits, and they never looked back. After going 3-11 beyond the arc in the 1st half, Purdue went 6-11 and put the Titans away. The Edwards each finished with 15 points, and PJ showed why he was still a starter with 11 points going 3-5 from the field.
A Carsen Edwards 3 in the 2nd half also put the sophomore stud over 1,000 career points. He was able to provide consistent support for Purdue, especially in the first half when Purdue looked a little sloppy.
Isaac Haas also contributed a quiet 9 points as he was harassed by the Titans all day. Late in the 2nd half, Haas was fouled and hit the floor hard, falling on the same elbow he injured during the Louisville game. He had to sit out, but came back in at the under-8 timeout.
We also saw good contributions from Ryan Cline, Nojel Eastern, and Matt Haarms. On paper, Cline went 1-4 from three, but he had one taken away as there was an offensive fall committed by Haas away from the ball just before he shot it. He even 4 free throws, double his attempts this season.
On the defensive side for Purdue, they were able to keep the Titans in check all game, holding them to 48 points, which ties the second fewest points given up by Purdue in a tournament game (Purdue beat Green Bay 49-48 in the 1995 NCAA tournament and St. Peter’s 65-43 in 2011). While Kyle Allman of CSF was able to take care of business with 21 points on 8-16 from the floor, Purdue was able to limit Khalil Ahmad and Jackson Rowe to 9 and 10 points respectively. Rowe did take limited shots and went 3-5 from the floor, but Ahmad went 4-12 with only 1 three. Fullerton committed 17 turnovers, while Purdue had 9.
Purdue will now face the winner of #7 Arkansas/#10 Butler on Sunday.
Overall, it was a good game from Purdue. Fullerton was giving Purdue trouble in the first half, but that might have been expected, as these teams are going to give everything they have and have nothing to lose. All Purdue needed today was a sustained run in the 2nd half to put them away for good.