The second half led to a dominating win for the Purdue Boilermakers, and at this time of the year teams will take victories in any way they come along. With the victory, the Boilermakers advance to play in the Round of 32 on Sunday.
But first, let’s take a look at some of the things we can take away from this game.
[Editor’s Note: This article was written prior to the Isaac Haas injury news.]
What We Learned
1. The long layoff had definite pros and cons
Purdue had not played since they faced Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game on March 4th. With eleven days in between games, there were plenty of questions surrounding how these teams would come out to start the NCAA Tournament. For Purdue, there were some issues early as far as finishing.
The execution was very good for the most part, but for a majority of the first half the Boilermakers simply could not get the shots to go down. When the shots started to go through the net for the Boilers, the execution came to the forefront and the lead expanded in the second half.
On the bright side, the layoff allowed for Purdue to get healthy. Specifically, Vincent Edwards, who had been battling a sprained ankle. He played with much more explosiveness against the Cal State Fullerton Titans than he had been able to in much of his time back from the injury. That was highlighted by a highlight, chase down block in the second half. When Vincent Edwards is playing well, Purdue is a nightmare for the opposition. Against the Titans, he finished with 15 points and seven rebounds on 6-12 shooting.
2. The Purdue defense was fantastic
In allowing only 48 points, the Purdue defense was flying around with plenty of energy and effort, forcing 17 Titans turnovers while only allowing 18 made field goals. Of those 18, a handful were forced shots at the end of the shot clock or shots that Purdue had contested very well and Cal State Fullerton put in off the glass.
Kyle Allman Jr., the junior guard for the Titans, did get his box score usuals of 21 points on 8-16 shooting, but the rest of the team pitched in with only 27 points total.
If this Purdue defense can continue to play with the energy and effort as the competition gets tougher going forward, they will certainly be a very tough out.
3. Purdue got back to the balance that made them great
When Purdue was rolling over teams, they were doing it with a variety of contributors that could hit big shots at any point. When things became tougher for the Boilermakers, they saw their pool of reliable contributors more than cut in half. Against Cal State Fullerton, however, they got back to what had made them so great. The ball movement was crisp and extra passes to find the open man resulted in warm-up style threes.
Purdue finished with Vincent Edwards and Carsen Edwards both in double figures with 15 apiece, with P.J. Thompson joining them with 11 points. Isaac Haas finished with nine, Dakota Mathias chipped in with eight and Ryan Cline finished with seven. Every player who saw the court scored except walk-on Tommy Luce, who saw his open jumper just miss in the closing minutes.
At points, we saw the Purdue team who looked like one of the top three teams in the country for much of the year resurfacing. If that is the team that shows up for the NCAA Tournament, they are a match-up nightmare for opposing teams and can certainly make a deep run.