Good morning. Purdue jumped all over Wright State in its last game against a mid-major before stepping up the competition. Whereas there has been some frustration about the Boilers’ defense after the last two blowout wins, this one felt different. Let’s break it down.
Game Recap: Purdue 96, Wright State 52
From the jump, this performance by Purdue looked different. Wright State was the highest-ranked opponent Purdue has played thus far, per KenPom, but it didn’t matter. The Boilermakers were locked in defensively, holding the Raiders to an absurd .732 points per possession. Edey, Williams and Furst all recorded double-doubles as Purdue imposed its will on Wright State. It was as impressive a performance you will see from a high major vs. a mid major.
Play of the Game
Early in the game, in the midst of one of many big runs, Trevion Williams checked in and immediately made clear the kind of night it would be for him. Working in the low post as he does so well, Williams saw a cutting Caleb Furst and a golden opportunity. One sweet behind-the-back pass and a big tomahawk dunk later, Purdue had a highlight very few, if any, center-power forward combinations in the country can match.
Welcome back, Purdue defense. The first two games were bittersweet; both were big wins, but came with questionable defense. Against Wright State, Purdue’s sky-high defensive potential was realized. Everyone did their job, whether it was the perimeter defenders stopping guards from getting to the rim or the bigs rotating over and doubling when necessary. Wright State put up 88 points in their last game and senior forward Grant Basile, a mobile big who can shoot, scored 35. Tonight? 52 total points and just seven for Basile on 3-14.
The shooting concerns are a thing of the past. While there will be nights where Purdue doesn’t shoot the ball well, it’s clear that the concerns about whether the Boilers have enough shooting to be an elite team are history. Stefanovic and Newman are two of the best from distance in the country, and both have the ability to go unconcious at any point in time. But most importantly, Purdue generates more good looks from three than any other team because of how much attention the bigs receive. That’s a terrifying combination for opponents.
The preseason is over. While Purdue has faced three solid mid-majors, they are, at the end of the day, mid-majors. The sheer size and skill the Boilers possess was always going to be too much for Bellarmine, Indiana State and Wright State to handle. Now, the Tar Heels of North Carolina await on Saturday, followed by either Tennessee or Villanova (as I write this UNC is down six at the half to College of Charleston so maybe I should rethink this). The competiton will be tougher and UNC will have guys who can at least attempt to match up with Zach Edey. Plus, the games will be away from Mackey Arena. How will Purdue respond to the inevitable adversity that comes its way? I can’t wait to find out.
He Said It:
“We were able to take the shots we wanted to take, rather than letting them take the shots they wanted to take.” - Caleb Furst, with a simple, yet profound, analysis of Purdue’s defensive effort.
"We're confident that we're a really good team. We have really good chemistry, everyone plays for each other, everyone loves one another and we feel we can beat anyone in the country." - Zach Edey, speaking about the Purdue basketball mentality (take that, Tom Allen).
"If you can force more misses, there are going to be more opportunites.” - Matt Painter, on his team’s 56-23 edge on the glass against WSU.
The Jaden Ivey Moment of the Game
This category is increasingly turning into me picking my favorite moment in transition from the game as Ivey has been pretty much solely responsible for Purdue’s fast breaks. Tonight’s edition saw the high-flying sophomore receive the ball in the open floor, execute a slick euro-step, and perform a combination of a finger roll and a dunk. It wasn’t his best night, but this guy delivers a couple jaw-dropping highlights each game.
Stat of the Night:Zach Edey and Trevion Williams' numbers in three games. PPG: 30.3 RPG: 19.7 APG: 4.3 BPG: 3.7 MPG: 37.6 FGs: 32-44 (.727) FTs: 26-35 (.743)
Whoa. We need to think of a nickname for this duo. Thunder and Lightning? I don’t know, I’m just spitballing.
💫Stars of the Game💫
⭐️Caleb Furst: Back to back gold stars for thre reigning Indiana Mr. Basketball (not Mr. Indiana Basketball, BTN play by play guy). He’s earned it, ranking in the 71st percentile in overall points per possession (1.038 PPP, per Synergy). He’s scored 28 points to go along with 28 rebounds, proving to be more than worthy of starting for a top-ten caliber team. He did it all tonight, confidently knocking down a three and attacking the offensive glass. Furst has a knack for producing as the benficary of others, as he proved during his stint with the USA U-19 National Team over the summer and has continued to prove thus far. Up next for the young fella? Matching up with the talented four men of North Carolina in Dawson Garcia and Brady Manek.
⭐️⭐️ Zach Edey: We talk a lot in college sports about the eye test vs. the numbers, which should we trust more. With Edey, it’s a question if which is more impressive. The eye test, where this 7’4 monster is sprinting down the floor and comes within feet of getting one of the most improbable chasedown blocks ever? Or the numbers, 18 points and 12 rebounds in a game where he missed a few bunnies. Edey’s half-court dominance can’t be understated: He’s putting up 1.667 points per possession in half-court post ups, per Synergy. In other words, he’s had 15 halfcourt post-ups, and has scored on 11 of them. Edey has without question been one of the best players in college basketball thus far.
⭐️⭐️ ⭐️ Trevion Williams: This game was one of the more fun performances by Trevion Williams in his storied Purdue career. On the night he reached the 1,000-point milestone, it was Williams’ toughness and unselfishness that stood out. While he got his 20 points, he added seven offensive rebounds and three assists. He finds joy in creating for others, and this season, he has found joy in controlling the paint defensively. For context, Williams had 22.1 points produced tonight (made shots, assists, OREBs per 100 possessions) and only 3.7 points allowed. Despite coming off the bench, it seems Trevion is playing the best ball of his career, and Purdue will need him at Mohegan Sun over the weekend.
Watching this game tonight, as this team put it all together and seemingly reached their monumental ceiling, was as fun an experience I have had watching basketball in quite some time. There were several moments during the game where my only response was simply maniacal laughter, as the great @Boiler0fLegend on Twitter did as well:
After a couple games where the subpar defensive effort made it difficult to enjoy this Purdue team in all its glory. Even as Ivey and Edey put on a show Friday night, there were still far too many possessions where we were all thinking “why did Indiana State just get that good of a look against us?”
Not tonight. I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I was dissapointed after a possession during the Wright State game. My emotions were no longer confusion or consternation. Instead, I was in awe as the nine players who are all capable of being starters on good teams took turns dismantling a good Wright State team (top 120 on KenPom).
If you could draw up the perfect, ideal win in a buy game, this would be it. Good mid major, suffocating defense, and explosive, dominant offense. My goodness this team is fun. Just, please, get me to Saturday at 4:00.