Before the 1st half ended, Purdue was the only B1G champions. Then Purdue got the win to start.
Zach Edey: 17 points, 19 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block
Fletcher Loyer: 13 points, 2 assists
Max Klesmit: 19 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist
Chucky Hepburn: 13 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
For the second straight game, Purdue looked set to win a title. This time, Purdue needed a Michigan win or loss to be crowned solo Big Ten Champions. Michigan–Illinois tipped at 6:00 PM CT, 2 hours before the Purdue–Wisconsin game, so it was likely that Purdue knew their status before tipoff. Then Michigan and Illinois went into 2 overs, but Illinois came out with a win, taking the crown for the Boilermakers. Purdue still had a game to play and they came away with a tough win where the shots didn’t fall again.
Both teams came out a little flat in this one as Purdue struggled to shoot the ball (again), but so did Wisconsin as both teams hovered around the 25% mark for a while. Zach Edey started the game shooting 1-6 from the free throw line, which is very uncharacteristic. Edey and Fletcher Loyer would lead Purdue at the half with 9 points each, but credit must go to Brandon Newman. The junior out of Valpo got the start after his effort against IU and he kept the energy up, forcing some turnovers that led to layups at the other end. For the Badgers, it was Isaac Lindsey, who averaged 1.3 ppg before tonight to go 3-3 and a season-high 8 points. Edey proved to be a force on the inside as Wisconsin didn’t want to go inside him. Purdue ended the half 31-27.
Per the norm, a Purdue opponent decided to go nuclear in the second half, going 3 for 3. At the 12-under timeout, Wisconsin was 9-17 from deep, an absurd number. But somehow Purdue was neck and neck with Wisconsin, entering the final ten minutes tied at 45. A back and forth battle would ensue, starting with Wisconsin cooling off a bit from deep. Wisconsin would have a 53-52 lead with 6 minutes left. The game would go back and forth down to the wire. After a Wisconsin miss deep, 2 Brandon Newman free throws put Purdue up 60-57 with 17 seconds left. Chucky Hepburn would get to the line for 1 and 1 with 9.6 crosses left and Hepburn would do both to make it 60-59. Braden Smith would go to the line for 2 and make both. Purdue again felled Wisconsin only in the single bonus, as Wisconsin did both again. Then it was Ethan Morton’s turn with 4.4 seconds left, missing the first and hitting the second. A Wisconsin surge at the horn fell short and Purdue escaped with a win.
Things we already knew: Edey is the best player in the country, Purdue has really struggled lately from deep and the line, Purdue has too many turnovers. We also knew Brandon Newman was worthy of starting, bringing high levels of energy to the court and providing clutch play on both ends.
Purdue just looks sluggish on defense and a step behind everyone, leading to drives and mid-range shots. It’s a long season, but these things have to get better.
Purdue will face Illinois in the regular season finale on Sunday and try to keep a lock on a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Your Purdue Boilermakers stand alone as Big Ten Champs! #25 has been achieved and there are more trophies to be won. Just keep winning.