Over the weekend Michigan inexplicably fell to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, something made even more humorous as my best friend (Michigan fan) mentioned to me the night before that a group of N.J.I.T. fans were trash talking online and he wondered if we could see the basketball programs equivalent to Appalachian State. When Michigan actually fell to the Highlanders I was one of the many people poking fun at the Wolverines, only for my beloved Boilermakers to lose later in the day to North Florida.
So when Michigan lost to Eastern Michigan this week and I once again joined in on Twitter to have some fun at the expense of Michigan fans, part of me was hoping Purdue didn't decide to follow up again with an equally as puzzling loss to Arkansas State. On one hand this was a game that shouldn't be in doubt, on the other hand the Red Wolves are considerably better than North Florida.
Then the first half happened.
Purdue's offense has been dreadful since Robbie Hummel graduated and the improved performance so far this season has been a delight. That being said, it was still a pleasant surprise to see the offense tonight at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers managed to hit 65.5% of their field goals in the first half, including 8 of 10 three pointers. The end result was a 34 point half time lead as they entered the locker room up 52-18. Even better was Kendall Stephens, channeling his inner Ryne Smith / D.J. Byrd as he hit all six of his three point attempts and matched Arkansas State's first half point total by himself.
Purdue eventually slowed down in the second half, only hitting one of their 13 three pointers and once again struggling from the line, but by then the game was out of reach and the Boilers were mainly coasting down the stretch to close out the night.
Blowing out a so-so Sun Belt opponent isn't exactly worth writing home about, but when teams like Michigan can't even get past Eastern Michigan it's always nice to see your team blow out an opponent 87-46. After ten games the Boilermakers have now held four different opponents to 46 points or less and look like they've recovered from the North Florida debacle. One thing to remember is that while some of the competition has been suspect, Purdue only beat Northern Kentucky, Rider, Siena (twice) and Eastern Michigan by single digits last season. Outside of Maui and the NCSU game, Purdue has beaten non-conference opponents by an average of 34.6 points per game. That margin is still 25.1 points per game if you factor in Missouri, Brigham Young and North Carolina State.
Things are about to pick up for the Boilers now with a road test to Vanderbilt set for this weekend. The Commodores are coming off of a slim defeat to Baylor and have already lost to Rutgers earlier in the season. While the SEC isn't a basketball powerhouse, the game does create an opportunity for Purdue to knock off a power five opponent on the road and is an extremely important game after the loss to North Florida, especially with Notre Dame coming up the following weekend.