Purdue Rallies to Defeat Louisville

ISL Purdue Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Walking through the Mackey concourse prior to the game against the #17 Louisville Cardinals Tuesday evening, there was a palpable buzz from fans on what was expected to be a terrific tilt in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The concourse was crowded with fans waiting to purchase beer and concessions as people found their way through the tunnels and to their seats in a sold out arena. The cohesive anxiousness was reminiscent of a conference game as fans clapped with the Boiler Brass and peered at a referee holding the ball at midcourt, awaiting the ESPN crew to wrap up their pre-game discussion which seemed to linger. Finally the horn signaled the ready, the ball was lifted and Isaac Haas won the tip for Purdue. And with the tip, the wheels began to fall off little by little as more and more time passed without any points in the Purdue column, but the Boilers were able to overcome early adversity to cap off the night with a 66-57 comeback win.

Purdue won the tip, but immediately got out to a cold start and were aided in keeping the game close by Louisville’s start, which was nothing but lukewarm. The Cardinals scored the game’s first seven points; Deng Adel the first four with a jumper and a pair of free throws before VJ King sank a three just over two minutes into the game. It wasn’t until 16:42 that Vincent Edwards was able to sink a layup on a fast break off of a Deng turnover that Purdue saw its first points. By that time, the Boilers had already missed five shots (all jumpers), committed two fouls, and Haas had already been supplanted by Matt Haarms.

The Purdue Football team was announced during the first media timeout to present the Old Oaken Bucket following Saturday's win over Indiana to become bowl eligible. Photo by Keith Carrell

The Purdue Football team was announced during the first media timeout to present the Old Oaken Bucket following Saturday’s win over Indiana to become bowl eligible. Photo by Keith Carrell

Maybe it was the size of Louisville, maybe it was a hard practice or two after a lackluster performance in the Bahamas, maybe it was tight play in front of the 25 NBA scouts; regardless of the reason, the first half featured some truly atrocious basketball. The first few games of the season featured a Purdue team which moved the ball well and presented an eagerness to pass up a good look for a better look. The first half was a digression of the sport which saw players attempt to play isolation basketball and shoot spot up shots with a defender in his face; the kind of selfish basketball that the Matt Painter motion offense is designed to avoid, the kind of basketball that Carsen Edwards played last year reared its big, ugly head in this one.

The lone bit of offensive rhythm of the first half came six minutes into the contest when Haarms checked in for Edwards, who had just registered his second foul, to play the four alongside Haas. Facing a seven point deficit, Haarms proceeded to take an open, but ill-advised, three which he missed badly (there’s a theme here somewhere). On the next possession, though, Haarms found himself with the ball on the perimeter again, but this time dumped the ball over the outstretched arms of Anas Mahmoud to find Haas under the basket. Haas secured the ball above his head, dunked it, and was fouled by Mahmoud in the process. Haas missed the ensuing free throw, but the seven footers teaming up for some two-man action liberated the Purdue offense for a moment which allowed Ryan Cline to sink the only Boiler triple of the half (of 13 attempts).

The result: Purdue managed to take its first lead of the game 15 minutes into the contest when C. Edwards sank two free throws. Nearly a minute later, Edwards sank a layup on a coast-to-coast breakaway to give the Boilers a 19-15 advantage. The slugfest continued through the rest of the period and the Boilers clung to a one point, 23-22, lead as they headed into the locker room.

The second half appeared to be heading down the same drudged fate, with the Cardinals slowly taking and then building to a six point lead as five minutes had passed. Then, moments later, without warning, V. Edwards drove to the hoop and was fouled by Malik Williams, Williams proceeded to body Edwards to the baseline, under the Purdue basket, well after the whistle and the players got into each other’s faces until Haas and an official pulled the players apart. That little bit of chippiness was the alarm sounding that woke the Boilers up from their apparent slumber. Haas fought for position under the rim and was rewarded with a foul against Williams and free throws. Edwards also found the can opener to tear the lid off of the baskets and nailed a crowd-raising three (the first make of the second half for Purdue) from the corner with 12 minutes to play that gave Purdue a one point lead. Dakota Mathias followed that up with a pair of treys of his own to open up a 43-36 advantage, behind a 12-0 run.

“You go through adversity throughout the game and you just stick with it. I thought we did a really good job of that; you saw no one hold their head down (when shots weren’t falling).” –P.J. Thompson

It appeared that the momentum had fully swung into Purdue’s favor and that the game was quickly getting out of hand for the visiting Cardinals, but Louisville wasn’t done yet. Head coach David Padgett called a timeout to settle the crowd and after returning to the court, Jordan Nwora immediately buried a three. Haas mishandled the ball on the other end and Quentin Snider sank another three in transition. Nojel Eastern had a cumbersome stretch that saw him miss a dunk in transition, an open layup on the next possession, and then committed a foul and turnover back-to-back. Eastern’s struggles helped to fuel the Cardinals’ run as they capped it off when Ray Spalding tipped a miss in with eight minutes to go. The seven point lead Purdue had built had completely evaporated in a little over a minute; Louisville was back on top by one, 44-43.

The final four minutes of the game, Purdue seemed to click back into the mode they began the season which saw the return of good ball movement and of good basketball. Fouls continued to mount on both sides and Purdue reestablished and then built upon their lead. With less than a minute to play and the Boilers up by four, Louisville inbounded the ball to Snider who immediately traveled. From there, the Cardinals began to employ the fouling strategy; in turn, P.J. Thompson, C. Edwards, Mathias, and V. Edwards sealed the game at the free throw line and made the final score look much wider than the game played.

Purdue returned to Mackey to play host in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge after a disappointing trip in the Bahamas. Purdue lost the first two tilts in the Battle 4 Atlantis; falling apart in an overtime loss to Tennessee and never showing up versus Western Kentucky. In the 7th place game, the Boilers found their stride against a fellow disappointment, Arizona, and forced the then #2 Wildcats into a winless tournament. The lackluster performance saw the Boilers lose their national ranking in both the AP and Coaches polls, the first time the Boilers have been unranked in 42 weeks (which had been the sixth longest streak in the nation; Arizona also dropped out of the polls after being ranked for 100 straight weeks).

“It’s a long season,” Painter mentioned of the team’s performance so far, before adding, “We wish we were in a little bit better position, but if stubbing your toe and losing those two games (in the Battle 4 Atlantis) helps you become a better team in February and March, then so be it.”

Next up:
Away: Purdue heads to Maryland to open conference play Friday (7 pm, BTN)
Home: Purdue hosts Northwestern Sunday (4 pm, BTN)

Quick Hits:
Purdue is 4-0 when Haas wins the tip this season… As of Tuesday night, Purdue was the only Big Ten team to defeat their ACC opponent and the ACC leads the challenge 6-1 with 7 games to go… Haarms added four blocks in this game, 25 for the season in eight games which already puts him tied with Haas for 8th on the season list for freshmen (Joe Barry Carroll holds the freshman season record with 82)… Louisville was anticipated to be a top team this season before head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were fired amid a pay-to-play scandal… The sellout was the second of the season and second in a row for Purdue… Coming into this game, Louisville had averaged nine blocks per contest, but only recorded one (Mahmoud) against Purdue… Purdue began abysmally from distance hitting only 1 of 13 threes in the first half and missed the first three of the second half, but finished by making 4 of their final 7 attempts… Louisville also struggled to connect from distance going 2-7 in the first half and 6-18 for the game… Purdue outscored Louisville by 12 at the charity stripe (23-32, 11-14 respectively)… Neither team took care of the ball well nor shared the ball effectively as both had a negative Assist-to-Turnover ratio (Purdue 9:11, Louisville 10:14)… Mathias took a shot to the face at the end of the half and received stitches during halftime… Haas left the game late and walked into the tunnel with an injury briefly before returning to the bench with a towel draped over his right hand and arm (after the game Painter didn’t reveal many details but mentioned it was an elbow injury and Haas was struggling to make a fist).

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