Blowouts and Tomahawks
Purdue routs FSU and sets its sights on Iowa...and a potential number one ranking.
Good morning. Purdue hosted the Florida State Seminoles last night, a long, athletic team down three rotation players. Nonetheless, the Boilers rolled to an easy win over the young Seminoles, and our friends in Columbus did us a solid and knocked off number one Duke. The stage is set for the first conference game of the year, and it means a little more given the opportunity at hand.
Game Recap: Purdue 93, Florida State 65
For as big an event the ACC/Big Ten Challenge typically is, this game lacked a little luster, because FSU is unranked and the ACC has #1 Duke, playing OSU and not Purdue. But the Boilers controlled this game from the jump, with Jaden Ivey knocking down his first three attempts from long range, and Purdue’s cast of role players all contributing to the blowout win. Despite the length and size of Florida State and the best efforts of Caleb Mills, this game never really felt close. Mackey was rocking like we haven’t seen in over a year, and with the news that Purdue has a chance to get to number one that came after the game, it’s sure to be a wild night on Chauncey Hill.
Play of the Game
This section is typically reserved for the play that swings the game. This game was a 30-point blowout against a top-30 team, so no play defined it. So let’s go with this one, a great representation of just how good Trevion Williams and Jaden Ivey are. Williams, arguably the best big in the country, is one the few 6’10 players that can make this pass, a perfectly-placed pocket pass that hits Ivey in stride. For his part, Ivey is the nation’s best cutter, a jaw-dropping athlete who is aware of his gifts and embodies the age-old saying “go where they ain’t.” This is perfect basketball, a skilled big man finding his high-flying guard for a dunk that brings that roof off of a packed Mackey Arena.
Brandon Newman is back. He’ll almost certainly get a shoutout later in the newsletter, but Purdue’s OTHER sharpshooting two guard had gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, struggling to find a rhythm. Tonight, Newman looked like the guy who dragged Purdue to a win against Minnesota last season, using his shot fake and getting to his spots en route to an important 13 points. It struck me that the game seemed to have slowed down for Newman, as he looked much more comfortable on both ends of the floor. He played 17 minutes, on par with his season average, but his production increased and that’s certain to make Coach Painter notice. Newman’s pure shotmaking ability adds a different dimension to an offense that is potentially already the country’s best; a Purdue with Newman producing is an even scarier Purdue we have seen so far.
Purdue responds to yet another unique challenge. While Purdue has yet to play a true road game (that will come next week in Piscattaway), it has been fortunate to see many different styles of play through seven games. It’s seen a team that doesn’t dribble, a team that plays very little defense, one of the nation’s most consistent programs, and tonight, the longest, tallest, most athletic team in Florida State. Some of these games have been more difficult than others, but Purdue has won all of them. Against Florida State, whose wings and guards engulf Purdue’s trio of Thompson, Ivey and Stefanovic, Purdue found a way to reach their season average of 93 points. It countered FSU’s raw athleticism with fundamentals, consistent defense, and hot shooting. Purdue has proven through seven games that it can win in a variety of different ways. On Friday, Iowa’s Keegan Murray comes to town, a player unlike any Purdue has seen thus far. It’s another challenge, but at this point, how can we expect the Boilermakers to struggle with it?
The first-ever number one ranking is within reach. Much was made about the missed opportunity to have a 1 vs. 2 matchup with Purdue and Duke. After Tuesday night, Purdue fans and ESPN alike are probably just fine with their decision, as unranked Ohio State knocked off the Blue Devils and in doing so laid the groundwork for the Purdue Boilermakers to reach the mountaintop come Monday at noon. While rankings in early December mean nothing in terms of who will ultimately cut down the nets, Purdue has never held the number one ranking in the AP Poll despite numerous teams that had an argument for the top spots. This is meaningful, and Purdue fans want it. Bad. That desire will show up Friday night at 9:00, when Iowa visits Mackey Arena. If Purdue wins that game, it is almost guaranteed to be the new number one when the AP Poll drops Monday. Iowa currently ranks 20th in KenPom and is undefeated. They are no slouch, and Purdue shouldn’t overlook the Hawkeyes, lest they lose that chance to be number one.
They Said It:
“It just makes my job easy. Once I saw one of these guys making one, I’m gonna go right back to them, because they can get hot in a second.” - Ethan Morton, on Purdue’s collection of offensive talent.
“I wondered how good we could be when we’re not making shots. Can we beat a good team when shots aren’t going in. You shot well, you’re at home. When you don’t shoot well or you go on the road, can you beat a good team? Can we be good enough in other areas to beat a good team?” - Matt Painter, on his biggest question regarding his team.
“This is the most complete team I’ve played in a long time. It’s not as easy to get a collection of players that seem to be a well-oiled machine this early in the season. I think the Big Ten, *laughs,* they’re gonna have a lot of other nights where they play this well.” Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton, on Purdue.
Jaden Ivey Moment of the Game:
Ivey didn’t have a jaw-dropping dunk in this one, in fact, he had a jaw-dropping missed dunk, the consequence for attacking the rim with as much ferocity as he does on a nightly basis. But it was a big game for Ivey, and not just because he scored 18 points and generally looked unbothered by the FSU length. It was a big game because he went 4-6 from three, bumping his season percentage to 43 percent (13-30). If that comes anywhere close to holding, he’s a surefire top five pick and this Purdue team, whose sights are set on a trip to New Orleans in early April, can get there. It was Ivey’s fourth three that gets the moment of the game, a center-court bomb that looked clean mechanically and got nothing but net, despite a decent FSU closeout. I have absolutely no idea what you do with this guy if he’s hitting shots like this.
Stat of the Night:
I saw this stat live while watching SportsCenter with SVP, but Purdue’s excellent SID Chris Forman got the screen capture for Twitter. This Purdue offense is literally off to as good a start as we have ever seen. Will they have nights where shots down fall? Yeah (maybe). But with each game, the sample size becomes greater and greater. It may not matter that Purdue has been just okay defensively.
💫Stars of the Game💫
⭐️Isaiah Thompson: This spot maybe should have gone to Zach Edey, for his sheer presence, but he didn’t have his best game. So Thompson gets the first star, if only so I can opine about how good he has been this season. He’s the perfect “point guard” for this team, an elite shooter (14-23 from three through seven games) who spaces the floor for the true point guard in Ivey. He’s always in the right spot, always waiting for the kickout three that just breaks opponents’ hearts. He’s the smallest guy on the court and last night FSU point guard Jalen Warley had six inches on him. It didn’t matter, as Thompson harassed him all game long. Obviously Thompson won’t continue to shoot 61 percent for the season, but even a little regression keeps him as an top-tier floor spacer. Against FSU Thompson hit several key shots in the first half, including an impressive floater late in the shot clock. So many guys on this team deserve praise for their buy-in, development, and performance, but Thompson may be no. 1 on that list.
⭐️⭐️ Brandon Newman: I know I touched on Newman earlier, but it can’t be understated how important it is for Purdue to get him back on track. An impressive performance from the sophomore against a big-time opponent should do wonders for his confidence. Single-game plus/minus can be misleading, but Newman tied for the team lead as a plus-21 in this game (with Thompson) and that checks out upon further review. Instead of settling for the first look he got from beyond the arc, Newman smartly utilized the shot fake and got to the rim or the midrange effectively, showing parts of his offensive game we havaen’t seen often from him. This is a player that can single-handedly win a game for Purdue, and so far this season he’s been deep on the bench. With Stefanovic playing as well as he is, Newman’s playing time won’t drastically improve. But if he can string together performances like this, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see him close out some games depending on matchups.
⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ Jaden Ivey: Much has been said about Ivey already, seemingly one of the few second-year studs across the country who has actually lived up to the preseason hype. When he knocked down all three of his first three-point attempts, it seemed like Ivey was headed for a 30-point night. It didn’t turn out that way, and his game is still largely defined by bursts of brilliance rather than sustained performance, but Ivey showed up in a big game once again, proving that he has improved his shooting, passing ability, and transition game. Amongst a group of the very best athletes in college basketball, Ivey was very clearly the best, racing past FSU defenders in transition and jumping over and around them in the halfcourt. His first step is lethal, he is seeing the floor as well as anyone in the country, and he’s currently a 43 percent shooter. Purdue has a lot of good players, many of whom could form the nucleus of a successful Big Ten team. Ivey is the player who takes this already very good team and elevates them to number one in the country. In addition to all of that, I thought he had his best defensive game of the season tonight. What a player.
As I watched this game on demand (I had to miss it to coach for West Lafayette HS, go Red Devils), it struck me how normal it felt, how completely dismantling a top-30 team felt like nothing new. Of course, I wasn’t in Mackey, I wasn’t even watching it live, but this team just ran a good Florida State team (albeit down two starters) out of the gym.
Coach Painter continues to harp on the defense, and like any coach, is creating scenarios where Purdue could potentially fail (a game where shots aren’t falling, a true road game). But it’s evident that an offense this good, an offense with this many weapons, may be so overwheling that those things won’t matter.
Missing shots? Pound the ball inside to your two All-American caliber bigs. On the road? That won’t faze this group, led by three experienced seniors and two cold-blooded killers in Jaden Ivey and Zach Edey.
I’m typically a very skeptical person, and maybe this team falls flat on their face on Friday against Iowa, but through seven games, there simply isn’t any evidence to make the argument that Purdue isn’t a top three, two, one, whatever team in the country.
Leonard Hamilton, who has seen a team or two, and who himself has been on the opposite end of a Purdue-FSU game in the not-so-distant past, sounded genuinely befuddled when talking about how to stop a team like this. I don’t know what more to say about this team, which just made Florida State look like a buy team, so I’ll leave Hamilton’s words:
“This is a team that has Final Four written all over it".”