Boilermakers cruise past Wisconsin for 14th straight win
Dominant offense and dominant defense make for a nice combination, as Purdue showed Tuesday night in the third-ranked Boilermakers’ 78-50 throttling of struggling Wisconsin in Mackey Arena.
There was never a moment of doubt, as Purdue made its first four three-pointers to go up a dozen before Wisconsin scored its first point and held the Badgers without a field goal for the first seven-and-a-half minutes.
Afterward, the question could be asked, but probably not answered: Was Purdue better on offense or defense?
Offensively, Wisconsin schemed to take away Isaac Haas and largely succeeded, holding the Boilermakers’ go-to big man without a field goal.
It came at the expense of the nearly double-digit fouls he drew, but without a field goal nonetheless.
And it came at the price of the three-pointer and the drives that Purdue generated off them.
“We were just going to take what they gave us,” Vincent Edwards said.
They feasted, actually.
Carsen Edwards made 9-of-16 shots, 3-of-5 from three, in scoring 21 points; Vincent Edwards was 8-of-13 for 2o, also 3-of-5 from three. Dakota Mathias’ 25-game three-point streak ended — he scored just two points — but fellow guards P.J. Thompson and Ryan Cline combined to make seven of eight threes.
Collectively, Purdue shot 52 percent, running offense that kept Wisconsin scrambling much the same way Minnesota was in the Boilermakers’ prior blowout win Saturday.
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Then on defense, the Boilermakers again stifled their opponent, forcing 20 Badger turnovers, repeatedly jumping passing lanes for steals or simply taking the ball from Wisconsin guards.
It started with its defense on focal-point big man Ethan Happ, who committed seven of those 20 giveaways.
“We understood what Ethan Happ was going to do,” Carsen Edwards said after grabbing five steals. “We knew he was going to kick it out shooters and we (guards) just stayed ready.”
And exploited a glaring Wisconsin deficiency.
The Badgers are without point guard D’Mitrick Trice and freshman scorer Kobe King and are perilously thin in the backcourt.
Purdue badgered Badger freshman point guard Brad Davison into seven turnovers and backup Walt McGrory into two others.
“Our second-best guard to this point is Ethan Happ,” Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. “That’s not the position you want to be in to handle that pressure.”
And that, too, played into Purdue hands, as it aimed to wear the big man down, Coach Matt Painter said. That energy spent bringing the ball up the floor couldn’t be allocated elsewhere.
Happ did finish with 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists, very little of that productivity coming in the decisive first half, hence very little of it mattered.
It was a positive sign for Purdue to build a big first-half lead and keep it — it’s been susceptible to end-of-half runs this season — but the Badgers’ pulse wouldn’t show up ’til the second half, when Happ started strong, both scoring and finding teammates for scores.
But as it did to start the first half, Purdue just scored, Vincent Edwards making back-to-back threes, then Thompson another to ensure that Wisconsin’s theoretical run didn’t amount to much of anything, providing little uncertainty for the Boilermakers as they won their 14th game in a row and moved to 7-0 in the Big Ten.
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