Purdue routs undefeated Valpo

By KEITH CARRELL
@BoilerColts
ISL Purdue Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Quite a few rumblings could be heard warning of a potential trap game with an undefeated Valparaiso (8-0) visiting West Lafayette to take on the Boilermakers Thursday night. Who can blame fans for approaching the game with caution after some of the upsets we’ve seen this season across the nation, from Indiana getting upset at home by Indiana State, to Arizona getting swept in the Battle 4 Atlantis to go from the number two team in the nation to unranked in a week, to this week alone featuring the likes of Ball State winning at number nine Notre Dame, number five Florida falling to two unranked teams, and an unranked Washington team unseating number two Kansas at home. Purdue was hosting a well-coached, strong rebounding team with aspirations of remaining one of the nine undefeated schools in Division I. Isaac Haas and Purdue won the tip, but struggled to shoot from the field, missing their first five attempts while the Crusaders throttled to an early six-to-two lead. But that early advantage was quickly overcome and Purdue dominated the remainder of the game, coasting to an 80-50 win.

“We had a lot of respect for (Valparaiso), they’re undefeated. You can’t take anyone lightly with the upsets that have been going around in college basketball; we didn’t want to be a part of that.” – Vincent Edwards

The Crusaders could have built an even larger lead to begin the contest if not for a case of the turnovers that bit them early. In Valparaiso’s first five possessions, they managed to turn it over four times. The first two were unforced when Parker Hazen and then Bakari Evelyn stepped on the baseline with the ball in back to back trips. The ensuing possession, Carsen Edwards used quick hands to swat the ball out of Evelyn’s hands and off his body, but it wasn’t until the fourth turnover with 17:34 remaining that Purdue was able to capitalize. Dakota Mathias stole the ball from Tevonn Walker and pushed it up the court to Vincent Edwards who was able to slam it home from the left side in transition to knot the game at two apiece.

Joe Burton bookended a couple of shots around a P.J. Thompson jumper to give the Crusaders a 6-4 advantage five minutes into the contest before the home team began to dig deep. Purdue would use an eleven-to-two run over the next six minutes to take a 15-eight lead. The Boilers would continue to pour it on for the remainder of the opening stanza, closing on a 32-ten run, stretching the lead to 36-16 at the break. As Valparaiso continued to cough it up (eleven times in the first half), Purdue took advantage scoring 16 points in the paint, many from the guards on dribble drives, and eleven off of turnovers. Purdue struggled with control a bit early as well, turning it over four times in the first half, but not once in the final ten minutes.

Olympic Gold Medalist diver, David Boudia walking on the court after being introduced at halftime. Prior to the game, fans were given Boudia bobbleheads in honor of the diver. -photo by Keith Carrell

Olympic Gold Medalist diver, David Boudia walking on the court after being introduced at halftime. Prior to the game, fans were given Boudia bobbleheads in honor of the diver. -photo by Keith Carrell

The first five minutes of the second half, Purdue relied on its tried and true inside-out game of Seniors Haas and Dakota Mathias to extend the lead to 23; Mathias splashed a pair of threes and Haas hit a couple free throws and a close jumper. At the first media timeout freshman fan-favorite Matt Haarms spelled Haas and immediately put on a show. Haarms had the ball just left of the free throw line with his back to the basket looking for a guard to hand off to on a quick screen (a staple of the motion offense under Painter) when he pivoted and realized his defender had left him on a pump fake with nothing but air between himself and the basket. Haarms put the ball on the floor, headed to the rim, and threw down a two handed slam that had the fans jumping to their feet in jubilation. The Boilers clung close to that 25 point lead the rest of the way as they coasted to an easy victory.

Just before the under-12 minutes media timeout, with the Boilers seemingly sleepwalking through the motions, Painter called a timeout (presumably to remind the team that time was still left in the game). Out of that timeout, Painter gave Haarms a breather and reinserted Haas. The lead ballooned to 28 with ten minutes to go and Painter took Vincent Edwards (15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 28 minutes) out of the game so as not to risk injury after a quietly effective night; the result was extended time of Haas and Haarms playing alongside one another. Over the next three minutes, the towering duo was relatively effective as they combined for two rebounds and two points while helping to hold the Crusaders to five points.

Dakota Mathias and Carsen Edwards have both had some involuntary facial reconstruction (whacked in the face hard) done so far this season, but it was two freshmen tonight who would get a little banged up. On his first defensive possession of the game, Haarms was attempting to body Derrik Smits (yes, that Smits, the son of former Pacers center Rik Smits) and got his hand caught awkwardly as Smits was able to cut and make a layup to tie the game at eight. Although Haarms did not signal to sub out, he was visibly agonizing over his hand, alternating between holding it and shaking it, as he stood near the low blocks and then moved out to set a screen for a curling C. Edwards who missed the open three. The hand did not appear to hinder Haarms the rest of the game, though when he checked back into the game later he was seen with his hand taped up around his thumb. Playing extended minutes, Nojel Eastern had a bit of a scare in the first half as well; with 1:17 remaining in the half, Eastern pulled in a weak side rebound off of a V. Edwards missed three, but Markus Golder attempted to swipe the ball away and inadvertently caught Eastern in the face. The referees spoke with Eastern briefly before the freshman decided he wasn’t going to be able to shoot the one-and-one free throw, so he checked out of the game. Valparaiso head coach, Matt Lottich, was then able to select which player would attempt the freebie and wisely selected Haarms who missed the attempt. Eastern did return to action in the second half and appeared unhindered by the incident. He’s still extremely raw, but this was Eastern’s best game of the season so far as he contributed three points, four rebounds, three assists (with one turnover), two steals, and a block in 20 minutes, but he also managed to air ball a free throw attempt.

“You just have to be hooked up and you have to be ready,” Painter was asked on how to avoid a potential upset and then continued, “Valpo’s 8-0, they’re a good team. They didn’t play well tonight, they didn’t shoot the ball well, (but) they’re a much better team than they showed and they’re going to have a good year.”

Purdue’s coaching staff certainly read the scouting report and prepared the team to battle with Valparaiso on the glass. Although the Crusaders had been outrebounding opponents by about ten per game, Purdue gathered two more boards than Valparaiso in this contest (40-38), led by V. Edwards’ nine. Especially in the first half, prior the game being firmly out of reach, there was a concerted effort by the Boiler guards to aid in boxing out and securing boards on the defensive end – for the game, ten players secured at least one board and 21 of the rebounds came from players not named V. Edwards, Haas, or Haarms.

Next up:
Purdue hosts IUPUI Sunday (7 pm, BTN)

Quick Hits:
Purdue played relatively mistake free with only nine turnovers and nine fouls in the game (Valpo committed 18 turnovers and 23 fouls)… With 9:35 remaining in the game, after playing just ten minutes, Mileek McMillan fouled out… Of the twelve Boilers to play only Grady Eifert went scoreless; Tommy Luce had one, Jacquil Taylor three, Eden Ewing four, Ryan Cline six, Eastern three, and Haarms eight… Haarms added two blocks to his impressive rookie campaign, now up to 34… Valpo got solid contributions from Burton (19 points, 3 rebounds), Walker (10 points, 2 boards, 2 steals), and Jaume Sorolla (4 points, 10 boards, and a steal)… Painter’s next win will be his 300th of his career (including 25 at SIU-E)… At the conclusion of last week, Haas was named the Big Ten player of the week for his dominant performances against Maryland and Northwestern.

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