NEW YORK CITY- We have our championship game set. After a huge game from Carsen Edwards, the Purdue Boilermakers downed Penn State 78-70 to advance to play Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden.
The Boilermakers received huge efforts from Edwards, Dakota Mathias, and Isaac Haas to advance to Championship Sunday. Mathias recorded 15 points on 2-of-4 shooting from behind the arc. Haas added 17 on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. And then there was Edwards, whose 27 points led the Boilermakers and was only outdone by Penn State’s Shep Garner.
Garner’s 33 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field was a game high. However, he did not get much help. Though Tony Carr (12 points) and Lamar Stevens (14 points) scored in double-digits, both Nittany Lions had their struggles shooting the ball.
Carr ended the night 4-of-18 from the field not to be outdone by Stevens’ 4-of-12 shooting night. With the loss, the Nittany Lions will head back to Happy Valley to await their potential NCAA Tournament fortunes.
Let’s see what we can takeaway from Purdue’s victory.
What We Learned
With a potential NCAA Tournament bid on the line, Tony Carr fell flat
Tony Carr’s season deserves nothing short than a standing applause. And if fans get to watch another game of him in the NCAA Tournament or NIT, it has become must-watch basketball.
Carr has carried Penn State against the best of the Big Ten, helping the Nittany Lions to three upsets over Ohio State. Against the Boilermakers, he ran out of steam. After leading his team with 25 points Friday night in the quarterfinals, Carr struggled from the field and in consequence, struggled to keep his team at pace with the mighty Purdue offense.
Despite the struggles from the field he finished with 12 points. However, it was on 4-of-18 from the field while also going 1-of-6 from behind the arc. With the game that teammate Shep Garner had, 33 points, Carr picked the wrong game to fall flat. It may have cost his team a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Dakota Mathias heating up helps Carsen Edwards
Dakota Mathias, one of Purdue’s many sharp-shooter has been the definition of a streaky scorer this season. Mathias will go four-to-five games of scoring double digits, hitting nylon from behind the arc. Only to follow up with a four-to-five game stretch of scoring under ten points.
At the start of February, Mathias was on a downward trend. In three straight games ( at Michigan State, vs. Ohio State, and at Wisconsin), Mathias was not a scoring threat. He finished with a combined 16 points across that stretch. As the month dwindled down, Mathias’s production grew.
Before Purdue’s game against Rutgers, the senior tallied double-digit scoring outputs in three-straight games. Against the Scarlet Knights, he only scored nine.
That makes his 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field against Penn State much more enticing. What looked like to be another down trend starting, was quickly obliterated with double-digit scoring output.
And when Mathias is as dangerous as he is from the outside, it makes stud sophomore Carsen Edwards just as worrisome for the opposition. Edwards can’t be guarded single-handedly to start with. Many teams have tried and almost all have field. He is too quick with the ball in his hands. Now, if teams try to help of off players like Mathias they leave a wide-open sharp-shooter.
With Mathias getting hot, it is the perfect time for the Boilers to claim a title at Madison Square Garden and see how fare it will take them in the NCAA Tournament.
It will not be the final that anyone expected but Michigan against Purdue part three will be a good one. In each of the first two meetings, the Wolverines took Purdue down to the wire only to be exhausted to the point of no return.
Michigan will be running on fumes with it being their fourth game in four days. But they have done it before and to nobody’s surprise can do it again. with both offenses shooting at a high rate, the Big Ten championship may be decided by which team hits the most shots.
For Penn State, just as it will be for Nebraska it is time to sit, wait, and wonder. Have they done enough. Will three upset wins over the Buckeyes be enough to push the Nittany Lions over the edge. Only time will tell. Selection Sunday is slated for March 11.