Boilermakers clobber Scarlet Knights on boards and scoreboard, alike
Rutgers is struggling again this season, but flashing glimpses, like its win over ranked Seton Hall and the scare it put into now-top-ranked Michigan State for about 38 minutes in Jersey a while back.
Its backbone thus far: The backboard.
And so 13th-ranked Purdue came into its Big Ten re-opener Wednesday night needing to stack up on the glass.
It did not just that, but flipped the script entirely on the Knights en route to an 82-51 victory that ran the Boilermakers’ Big Ten record to 3-0 and their winning streak to 10.
Purdue, now 14-2 overall, grabbed 45 rebounds, Rutgers just 27.
Rutgers — No. 2 nationally in offensive rebounding — grabbed just six, roughly 10 below its average. The Boilermakers held Rutgers to just 33 percent shooting and choked off most every opportunity for redemption thereafter.
“We had a very short time to prepare for those guys, only two days,” center Isaac Haas said. “But Coach kind of drilled that mentality into us in those two practices that we had have to box out, get to those guys and not let them have second-chance points.”
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Purdue dominated the glass, and did so without its best rebounder, largely. Vincent Edwards, who averages nearly nine rebounds, played just 20 minutes due to foul problems, finishing with just three boards.
Nevertheless, Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell credited Purdue’s size as too much for his team to overcome, calling the Boilermakers an “elite rebounding team.”
That would be news to Matt Painter’s team, most likely, not because it’s not capable, but because it’s not been. Rebounding remains arguably the Boilermakers’ A1 concern each time out.
“It’s been a problem all year, especially early in the year, when we really had problems boxing out,” said redshirt freshman big man Matt Haarms, who matched Haas and Ryan Cline with a team-high six. “I feel like it’s gotten progressively better as the season’s gone on but … it remains something we have to remain focused on every game.
“This game, we really focused on it in practice and it showed. We got a really good rebounding performance from everybody.”
Indeed. Seven Boilermakers finished with five or more rebounds, none more than six, as Purdue stripped Rutgers of one of its strengths, one of its constants.
That left the Knights and their offensive limitations exposed.
They were just 10-of-35 in the decisive first half, after which Purdue led by 21. They’d have been much worse had they not scored three breakaway baskets off Boilermaker turnovers, the home team's albatross in this game.
Otherwise, the Boilermakers scored 45 first-half points on 55-percent shooting on a team that wasn’t even allowing 70 points per game on average. And it finished with 82.
Purdue was very good defensively, short of a lull early in the second half, again middling for a while playing with a big lead. Rutgers made six of its first nine shots to start the second half, while Purdue didn’t score a field goal until more than five minutes had passed after the break.
No matter, though.
Purdue soon re-asserted itself on defense, Cline made a couple threes — he was 4-of-6 for the game, continuing his blistering shooting of late — and the Boilermaker lead moved north of 30.
It was a dominant result in a game in which Purdue didn’t play all that great in a lot of ways.
It committed 16 turnovers, leading to a quarter of Rutgers’ scoring. The Boilermakers missed eight free throws, including some one-and-ones, and their starting guard trio of Carsen Edwards, Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson — though they did fine defensive work against Corey Sanders (4-of-14) and Geo Baker (4-of-12), defensively — combined to shoot just 9-of-28. And Vincent Edwards was limited by foul trouble.
It wasn’t Purdue’s best game.
On the glass, though, it couldn’t have been better.
“I thought we had a great effort of boxing out and going to get the basketball,” Matt Painter said.
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