A small splash of Oregon green stuck out amongst a sea blue and red in Kansas City, Missouri on Thursday night. And boy did Kansas give them plenty to cheer for. The legion of Jayhawks fans transformed the neutral site into a booming Allen Fieldhouse surrogate as Kansas routed the Purdue Boilermakers.
Purdue came out of the gates firing. The Jayhawks athleticism and speed did not faze the Boilermakers early, as they kept tempo, worked the ball inside and found open shooters. As quickly as Purdue jumped ahead, though, their control unraveled even quicker. Vincent Edwards hit the bench with two early fouls, a lid covered the rim, and the Jayhawks clamped down on post entry passes. Kansas headed to the locker room at half following a 20-7 run.
The second half was more of the same. Purdue stubbornly attempted to feed Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas on the block, despite the swarming and turnover generating Kansas defense. The turnovers shifted to quick and easy buckets for the Jayhawks. Frank Mason III frequently turned a fast break without numbers into a 2-1 or 3-1 advantage, attacking the rim and finding open shooters.
Kansas simply did not miss. They were lights out from three, hit easy floaters in the lane and toyed with a gassed Boilermaker squad who could simply sit and watch as alley-ops rained from above.
As the dust cleared, the Purdue Boilermakers found themselves on the losing end of a 98-66 beat down. Here’s what we learned.
What We Learned
Kansas is a Juggernaut
Kansas sure looks the part of a national champion. The speed, aggression and efficiency they demonstrated never dipped in the 40-minute contest. As the game wore on and fatigue set in for Purdue, the Kansas throttle continued, the shots got better, and the dunks got more ferocious.
Everything said, the Jayhawks steamrolled the Boilermakers in all facets. Kansas hit 15 threes on just 28 attempts. They out rebounded the Boilermakers despite a distinct size disadvantage. The Jayhawks also generated 16 turnovers against a team that had a tournament total of 20 entering the game.
There isn’t much left for Purdue, other than to shrug their shoulders. An excellent defensive team all season, the Boilermakers were run out of the gym. Really, they never stood a chance.
Purdue Will Compete Next Year
Though the Boilermakers aren’t losing any producing seniors, they most certainly will lose Caleb Swanigan to the NBA. Obviously they cannot replace the Big Ten Player of the Year and National Player of the Year candidate, but they will employ a talented and effective roster next season.
Headlining the team will be forward Vince Edwards. The do everything soon to be senior will bring a tremendous level of experience and grit to the court, as he has played big minutes since first stepping foot on the Purdue campus.
The backcourt will all be returning as well. Big Ten First Team All-Defense guard Dakota Mathias, big time freshman Caleb Edwards, and floor general P.J. Thompson will all be back to defend their regular season Big Ten title.
Purdue also has a promising crop of incoming freshmen. Already with 7’2” center Haas, they will add another 7’2” center in four star Matt Haarms. Joining Haarms in the 2017 class is shooting guard Nojel Eastern. Eastern is an ESPN top 100 recruit.
What a Season for Swanigan
Caleb Swanigan will finish the 2016-17 season with an astounding 29 double doubles. The sophomore forward dominated opponents down low time and time again en route to Purdue’s title and sweet 16 run.
Impressively, Swanigan saved a smaller element of his game for the tournament. After attempting just 2.4 three point shots per game throughout the season, Swanigan went 7-13 in the big dance. The big time forward also averaged 5 assists per game in Purdue’s three tournament games.
Swanigan will undoubtedly be a first round selection in this year’s NBA draft. It will be fun to watch his game continue to grow as his career progresses.
Despite the loss, the Purdue Boilermakers had an impressive season. A Big Ten regular season title and Sweet 16 appearance is certainly nothing to scoff at. Unfortunately for Purdue, they encountered an electric Kansas Jayhawks team who looks poised to play for a national championship. Ultimately the Boilermakers will be hungry to defend their conference title next year and will have a good roster to do so.