#24 Purdue handles #6 Gonzaga, 84-66, in the semi-final of the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament.
Mason Gillis started the game missing 3 three-pointers, but the junior forward knocked down two big threes in the final handful of minutes and Purdue picks up their biggest win of the season, 84-66, dominating the #6 team in the country in the second half.
Purdue will face Duke on Sunday in the Championship Game of the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament.
Gillis wasn’t the only 4 doing damage for Matt Painter. On a night billed to be a battle of star centers, Caleb Furst’s season-high 10 points off the bench ignited a Purdue run in the second half that Gonzaga couldn’t overcome. The big man scored on two dunks and a corner three as part of an 8 point flurry of points that pushed Purdue’s lead to 12.
Throw in Braden Smith’s late game play making at point guard, and it was almost possible to forget about the big men for a moment. The true freshman guard with 14 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds.
It wasn’t easy for Purdue to start the game. They fell behind 14-7 early behind a lot of missed three-pointers. They started the game going 2 of 13 from deep and it looked like they were on the verge of being ran out of the building by Gonzaga.
But Purdue executed in the second half and found their shot and their offense. An Ethan Morton three pushed Purdue up 77-61, one of 6 second-half three-pointers for Purdue. Gonzaga’s offense could never get going, they finished 27-67 from the floor.
In the battle of big men, Zach Edey finished with 23 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.
Drew Timme had 22 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Zach Edey led all scorers with 23 points on 16 shot attempts, and grabbed a season-low 7 rebounds. It’s the first time Edey has failed to collect a double-double.
Braden Smith continues to rack up all the counting stats: 14 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. He had just 1 turnover.
Fletcher Loyer is starting to find his shot, knocking down 3 of 6 of his threes and scoring 14 points, dishing 5 assists, and grabbing 3 rebounds.
Ethan Morton was solid again, scoring 8 points with 4 assists and 4 rebounds.
Caleb Furst had 10 points in 15 minutes of action while taking just 5 shots. He had 6 rebounds, 3 of them on the offensive end.
The Caleb Furst Game
There’s big stages and then there’s players that step up onto those stages. Caleb Furst saw himself a big stage and jumped right into the spotlight.
The sophomore big man came off the bench and did all the hustle plays he’s been making all season. He blocked a shot at the rim on one side and then drew a foul going for an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession. On the in bound play, Furst cut hard and found himself jumping again, this time up to an open rim where he thundered a two-hand jam.
Furst finished another dunk after a cut on the baseline, and polished off a flurry of points with just his second three-pointer of the season. The corner jumper pushed Purdue’s lead to 12, the biggest of the game at that point and forced Mark Few to call another timeout.
Purdue, A Cold Start
For a second there it looked like Purdue might get run out of the building.
Gonzaga was up 14-7 and Purdue could not get a shot to fall. Whether it was an open corner three, a pull up, or from the top of the key, Purdue’s shooters from Mason Gillis to Fletcher Loyer couldn’t buy a bucket. They started 1-7 for the game and then they were 2 of 13 from three.
But as Painter has harped all his career, his players didn’t let their offensive game carry to the other side of the court. While Purdue finally found a few threes to fall, they kept Gonzaga from getting comfortable on offense. Both teams ended up shooting an identical 4 of 15 from three.
An early meeting at the rim
Gonzaga wanted to test Purdue’s true freshman in the back court early. Mark Few dialed up a press, but they didn’t take into account Fletcher Loyer’s arm or the 7’4″ big man waiting in the paint.
At least, it didn’t look like it as Loyer found Edey seemingly by himself in the paint. Edey didn’t catch the pass cleanly though and that half second allowed Drew Timme to catch up to the big man at the rim.
The much anticipated big man match-up wasn’t going to have many moments like this. Despite being two of the best centers in the country, Mark Few decided to keep Timme fresh and out of foul trouble by defending Purdue’s 4 instead of Edey.
But Edey and Timme were the only people near the ball and both were rising towards the rim at the same time and the largely Gonzaga biased crowd came away cheering as Timme was able to block Edey’s dunk attempt.
Purdue gets hot.
It was bound to happen. Purdue came into Portland shooting less than 30% from three. They carried that cold streak over into the first half against Gonzaga.
Purdue shot 4 of 15 from three in the second half and 38.7% from the floor all together. They were still able to push Gonzaga and go into half with a lead.
They found their shot in the second half.
Purdue was 6 of 11 from three in the second half. Their best half of shooting of the season. It helped push Purdue’s lead to double-figures and Gonzaga was never able to really make a run against Purdue because they could never get them to miss.
Purdue finished 47.5% from the field and 10-26 from three for a 38.5% three point percentage.
Purdue’s Defense Continues to Carry
Purdue’s defense seems to travel.
Purdue held Gonzaga to 27-67 shooting for the game and limited them to just 9-28 from the three-point line. Purdue continues to play disciplined defense, picking and choosing which players to focus on and which ones to leave alone. It’s the the difference between this year’s squad and last according to Zach Edey and Matt Painter.
They’re able to defend while still not fouling.
Gonzaga took just 4 free throw attempts, a number less than what Drew Timme is averaging on his own. Purdue’s defense also won the rebounding battle big. They out rebounded Gonzaga 46-31.
Purdue’s defense was enough to keep Purdue close in the first half and to hold their lead in the second. They never trailed in the second half, and led for 25:05 minutes of the game.