It was a historic season for the Purdue Boilermakers on a multitude of fronts. They put together a 19 game winning streak in the middle of the season, the longest in school history. They won 30 games in a year for the first time in the history of the program. There is plenty about this season that deserves to be remembered.
But it will likely all come down to what could have been, had Isaac Haas not fractured his right elbow. It’s always hard to quantify how any particular game would have been different had a certain player played, but it won’t ever stop the questions.
With that being said, the guys that Purdue did have available to play against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Friday evening couldn’t come away with a win. Let’s look at some of the takeaways from this game.
What We Learned:
1. The Boilermakers Achilles heel came back to bite them
After the loss of Caleb Swanigan from a year ago, the question all summer long was whether or not Purdue could make up for the loss of production on the glass. While his offense was certainly an important cog in the Purdue attack a year ago, that was much easier to replace and actually improve upon than his natural ability to haul down rebounds.
There were times that Purdue seemed to have that problem at least fairly under control this season, but it came back to bite them on a handful of occasions throughout the season. Looking at the numbers in this game, Purdue was actually only out-rebounded by four, 34-30. The problem was that many of the 11 offensive rebounds that Texas Tech pulled down were at the end of the shot block to spoil a good defensive possession by Purdue.
In the second half when the Boilermakers were trying to retake the lead, they either couldn’t get the defensive stop that they needed or they couldn’t finish one with a defensive rebound.
2. There was a gap in athleticism between these two teams
It was harped on by the media all week long before this game and all season long by national media. Purdue doesn’t necessarily have the next level athlete type of players that you sometimes need to just make something happen on the court. While, at times, that point can be overblown, it certainly seemed that way in this one.
Any space that Purdue could get offensively was quickly closed by a Texas Tech defender. Dakota Mathias, Purdue’s most reliable sharpshooter, didn’t get a truly good look from three point range until he made a corner three in the closing seconds of the game to finish the night 1-7.
The athleticism in the Texas Tech defense caused havoc defensively, and the Boilermakers finished with 17 turnovers on the night despite only averaging 10 per game throughout the season.
3. Texas Tech had a significant advantage on the bench
The Red Raiders can play up to eleven or twelve guys if they need to, and that is simply a luxury that a lot of collegiate teams just don’t have. That showed up big time in this one, as the Purdue bench was outscored 33-6. Ryan Cline finished off a season in which he has been hot and cold offensively without scoring, largely due to being unable to find any space for a shot, missing his only attempt.
Jacquil Taylor scored four points off the bench for Purdue, while Eastern added the last two points in relief. The drop off in offensive production from the starting group to the bench players proved a burden that was too heavy to overcome in this one.