Rushed Reactions: #2 Purdue 74, #15 Cal State Fullerton 48

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 16th, 2018

RTC will be providing coverage of the NCAA Tournament from start to finish. Tommy Lemoine (@hoopthink) is reporting from Detroit. 

Three Key Takeaways.

Purdue dominated Cal State Fullerton in Detroit. (Image from Purdue University/Twitter)

  1. Purdue looked elite in the second half. There was a time earlier this season when Purdue looked as dominant as any team in the country. Then the Boilermakers lost three straight games in February, the defense regressed and tired legs appeared to take hold. Above all, they seemed to lose their confidence. Friday’s effort against Cal State Fullerton might have represented a big first step towards regaining that edge, as Purdue’s defense — which dropped to 32nd nationally in efficiency after once ranking among the top-10 — completely shut down the Titans’ attack-first offense. The Boilermakers held the Big West champs to just 36 percent shooting while rediscovering their shooting stroke in the second half (6-of-11 3PT). If Matt Painter’s group can repeat its second half effort against Arkansas/Butler and beyond, Purdue very much has a chance to reach San Antonio.
  2. Carsen Edwards is Purdue’s most important weapon. This might seem counterintuitive considering how much attention Isaac Haas receives, but not only is Edwards Purdue’s leading scorer (18.5 PPG), he’s also perhaps its only player capable of getting to the rim at will. When the Boilermakers couldn’t buy a shot in the first half — including several Haas rim-outs — the sophomore took it upon himself to attack the lane and either force help, draw a foul or make a bucket. Edwards, who accounted for 13 of his team’s 30 first half points, showed once again why he’s the player who takes Purdue’s offense from good to great.
  3. The long layover seemed to help. After struggling to find its shooting stroke in the first half, Purdue overwhelmed Fullerton with its size and shooting ability in the final 20 minutes. Senior forward Vincent Edwards, who suffered an ankle sprain in late February that sidelined him for two games, looked especially fresh, logging 15 points and seven rebounds while playing outstanding defense — including one of the best transition blocks you’ll see all tournament. Even while Painter acknowledged that the layoff may’ve slowed his team down early, there’s no denying that fresh legs helped the Boilermakers maintain their dominance down the stretch. When it’s all said and done, the week-early Big Ten Tournament may’ve been the best possible scenario for Purdue.

Star of the Game. Vincent Edwards, Purdue. While Carsen Edwards was key to Purdue’s first half lead, it was the senior Edwards — who finished with 15 points, eight rebounds and one huge block — who played the best all-around game. His two-way effort was an encouraging sign for Purdue, considering the ankle injury he suffered in February.

Quotable.

  • “We had a tough time kind of settling into the game from an offensive standpoint.” – Purdue coach Matt Painter, on the Boilermakers’ rusty first half.
  • It was the risk of getting dunked on versus the risk of getting a block. So I took that risk.” Purdue forward Vincent Edwards, on his crowd-pleasing transition swat.
  • Speaking for myself, I was a little winded at that first timeout.” – Carsen Edwards, on Purdue’s long layover after the Big Ten Tournament.

Sights and Sounds. Fullerton may have lost the game, but its angry elephant — Tuffy the Titan — most certainly won the mascot dance-off late in the second half. In a mano-a-mano, center-court matchup with the ever-creepy Purdue Pete, Tuffy make some swag-alicious moves that made the crowd swoon.

Wildcard. Purdue center Isaac Haas took a hard fall in the second half that briefly sucked the life out of Little Caesars Arena. He held his arm in immense pain, but was able to return to the court shortly thereafter. While Haas may have just knocked his funny bone, it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on this weekend and beyond.

What’s Next. Purdue advances to the Second Round where it will take on the winner of #7 Arkansas vs. #10 Butler.

Tommy Lemoine (249 Posts)


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