High-Flying Ivey Carries Boilers Over Scarlet Knights
The No. 5 Purdue Boilermakers stifled the hottest team in the Big Ten with an 84-72 win over Rutgers in Mackey Arena Sunday evening and avenged a dramatic loss to the Scarlet Knights earlier this season.
The Boilermakers came off a stretch of six games in 15 days in league play and took last Thursday (Feb. 17) off as a team. Before then, they had not had a day off since Jan 23.
That well-earned rest paid off for the Boilermakers (24-4, 13-4 in conference). Purdue never trailed and took the lead for good when Mason Gilis hit a three-pointer five minutes into the first half, 13-10.
When the Scarlet Knights (16-10, 10-6) cut the lead to one with about two minutes to go in the first half, the Boilermakers responded with a 9-1 run to close out the opening period.
“We’ve fallen into a trap, throughout the year, of once we get a lead to about 10 to 12 (points), we get away from what we are doing,” said coach Matt Painter after the game, “We try to hit a home run, and I didn't see us doing that tonight.”
Purdue carried that momentum into the start of the second half, scoring eleven unanswered points in the period's opening five minutes.
“For us, it was just about pushing that lead. We didn’t want it to get close at all,” said Purdue’s Jaden Ivey who finished with a game-high 25 points to go with four assists. Ivey attacked the basket, drawing numerous fouls in the process and made 15-for-18 from the free throw line.
In their previous meeting, Dec. 9 when the Boilers were ranked No. 1 in the nation, Rutgers shocked Purdue on a shot from 40 feet to beat the final buzzer. Purdue snapped a Rutgers school-record of four straight wins over ranked opponents entering the Sunday night game
Rutgers tried to use a full-court press to force Purdue turnovers, but it was the Boilermakers who took advantage of 11 Rutgers miscues for 19 points.
Following Ivey’s lead, Purdue had a balanced scoring attack. Four more Boilermakers scored in double figures. The tandem of centers, Trevion Williams and Zach Edey, combine for 26 points on 10-for-14 shooting. Edey also pulled down seven rebounds.
A difficult stretch lies ahead of the Boilermakers as they play back-to-back games on the road against ranked opponents–No. 19 Michigan State on Saturday and No. 15 Wisconsin on March 1.