WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Let’s start with the atmosphere Tuesday night in Purdue’s 66-57 victory over Louisville in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
Whew. Purdue gets it from game management on down. Mackey Arena acts like a dome with the sound reverberating off the ceiling and bouncing all around. A big stop, shot, turnover and a timeout usually equates to an instant rave. The fans bring it, all dressed in black this night, loud and proud. And while the students may not have the luxury of the cushy recliner like chairs on one side, the arena doesn’t seem to have an obstructed view.
1. Louisville interim coach David Padgett said after the game he didn’t think an opposing team would win here. Well, a lot of that has to do with the talent on the floor, but he’s right. Winning in West Lafayette will be a chore for teams in the Big Ten. Michigan State got the lucky straw in the Big Ten scheduling since the Spartans don’t come to Mackey, while Purdue has to go to East Lansing. But if there is a game to circle here it’s the last one of the Big Ten season — Feb. 25 against Minnesota. That could be for a share of the title or likely a top three finish in the conference.
Grinder at Mackey. @BoilerBall gets the much-needed home win over @GoCards to re-establish itself on the mainland after a 1-2 Bahamas trip. Still like @MSU_Basketball @GopherMBB in the @B1GMBBall. But Purdue will be heard from when it's all said and done.— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) November 29, 2017
2. Purdue can win and not shoot well: Yes, it’s a grinder and not a thing of beauty of coach Matt Painter will take it gladly. He told NCAA.com in the hallway outside the locker room that they have to win games like this when they don’t make shots. Making only 5 of 23 3s would qualify for not shooting well. But the difference is the Boilermakers can get to the free-throw line and did so 32 times as compared to Louisville’s 14. A perfect example of making plays when not shooting well was Carsen Edwards. He went to the line for 9 of 11 after going just 2 of 11 from the field.
3. Play of the game: Nojel Eastern wrestled away a loose rebound and got the Boilermakers out on the break. The Boilermakers would turn a 36-32 deficit into a 43-36 lead for the Boilermakers. That type of glue-guy play is exactly what the Boilermakers need to do when things go awry. Now, Louisville did come back and take the lead but Purdue turned up the pressure, forced turnovers and fed off an emotional crowd.
REALTED: Previewing the ACC-Big Ten Challenge
4. David Padgett is so chill. He has the interim tag, but you would never know it. He replaced a legend in Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, who was removed from the job prior to the season. Yet, Padgett didn’t get flustered in what was an intense game that saw 15 lead changes. Padgett has an experienced bench assistant in former TCU, Nevada and Stanford head coach Trent Johnson and added another now veteran assistant in Greg Paulus. But Padgett has made an impact on this squad because they didn’t get rattled by the crowd. And while there were too many turnovers late and 14 overall, they weren’t because this team was flustered by a chaotic coach. Padgett kept his composure and the Cardinals fed off his demeanor.
Boiler up!— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 29, 2017
Purdue secures an important 66-57 win over No. 17 Louisville in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. pic.twitter.com/SU6HV4N8kC
5. Anas Mahmoud, the slender senior 7-footer, has improved quite a bit. Padgett said he figured out that he’s not the strongest post player, so he has to move his feet to be effective. He missed a few shots that he shouldn’t have but still was able to be effective inside. If the Cardinals are to reach their potential, it might be because of his play in the post. The Cardinals are going to get the necessary production out of Deng Adel and can have Ray Spalding, V.J. King and Quentin Snider step up and make shots. But quick hitters in the post or at least the ability to pass in and back out through Mahmoud could be critical going forward.