WEST LAFAYETTE – Trevion Williams had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Sasha Stefanovic, Mason Gillis, Brandon Newman and Eric Hunter Jr. all joined him in double figures to lead Purdue past Penn State 80-72 at Mackey Arena today. The Boilermakers improved to 10-5 with the victory.
- Sometimes it's just one of those days ... until it's not: Purdue spent the entire first half running relatively good offense and getting open looks from beyond the 3-point line, only to throw up brick after brick after brick. In that situation, there's really not a whole lot you can do other than continue to run good, inside-out offense that emphasizes post touches and try to lock down on defense as much as possible. Purdue was able to do that for large stretches of the game – though there were some blips late in the first half – and the Boilermakers kept their energy and physicality high despite struggling to make shots from the outside in the first 20 minutes. That is something that wasn't happening early in the season (the loss to Miami, in which Purdue went cold in the second half and let its defense get lax on the way to blowing a 20-point lead) and it's encouraging to see the Boilermakers continue to mature in that way. If you keep running good offense and getting good shots, eventually they'll start falling and that's what happened in the second half as the Boilermakers pulled away They went 2 for 19 from 3-point range in the first half, but made four of their first six in the second half (though they missed their last seven).
- Small teams have no answer for Purdue: Penn State is an energetic, tough team, but it does not have much size at all. The Boilermakers have one of the best big-man combos in the country in Williams and Zach Edey and they took full advantage of the mismatches those two created against the Nittany Lions. Penn State center John Harrar plays very hard, but he just had no chance one-on-one against Williams or Edey. Even when Penn State sent a double team at the post, the Boilermaker big men were often strong enough to finish anyway and they also tossed myriad good passes out to the arc for open 3-pointers. The pair of Purdue centers combined for 20 points and 17 rebounds and the importance of having two players at that size was underscored when Williams got into foul trouble early in the first half. Ultimately, any team that doesn't have a dominant big man is going to have trouble keeping Purdue from getting whatever it wants inside.
- The maturation of Brandon Newman continues: The Purdue redshirt freshman had a solid game against Indiana with 12 points and six rebounds and followed it up with an even better performance against Penn State. He finished with 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks. He contributed in all phases on offense, handling the ball, showing some of his flair for scoring around the rim and hitting a 3-pointer. On the other end, he seems to be figuring out the nuances of collegiate defending and closed out on shooters pretty well most of the game, though coach Matt Painter did pull him aside for an emphatic talking-to after he missed a rotation in the first half. Those type of mistakes will happen to a freshman, but he seems to be getting further along in his development and his offensive creativity is already a key component of the Purdue attack.
Player of the Game: Trevion Williams
Despite some early foul trouble, Williams was the anchor for Purdue's offense most of the afternoon, drawing attention and extra defenders from the Nittany Lions that gave the guards more room to operate. When Purdue really needed a basket with four minutes left and its lead cut to 10, he took on a double team and scored. Williams finished 6 for 10 from the field. He posted his fifth double-double of the season and second in a row.
This is the first home game for Purdue in 24 days, the longest stretch without a matchup at Mackey Arena since the 1998-99 season. ... This was Penn State's first game since an overtime loss to Indiana on Dec. 30. The Nittany Lions have had four straight home games canceled because of a coronavirus outbreak within the program. ... Purdue improved to 5-3 in the Big Ten with the victory. The Boilermakers have been 5-3 or better in Big Ten play in 10 of Matt Painter's 16 seasons at Purdue. The previous nine teams to reach that mark have all made the NCAA Tournament. ... Penn State came into the game making 10.1 3-pointers per contest, No. 20 in the country. The Nittany Lions went 10 for 39 from beyond the arc today. Guard Izaiah Brockington entered the matchup No. 2 in the Big Ten in 3-point percentage at 52.9%. He was 0 for 4 from deep. ... Purdue is 22-3 all-time against Penn State at Mackey Arena, its second-best record at Mackey against any opponent. ... Nittany Lions coach Jim Ferry was called for a technical foul in the second half. ... Penn State had 23 offensive rebounds and a 29-14 advantage in second-chance points.
Purdue is back in action Tuesday, when it travels to Columbus, Ohio to take on No. 21 Ohio State (11-3, 5-3 Big Ten) at Value City Arena. The game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Purdue defeated the Buckeyes 67-60 at Mackey Arena on Dec. 16, though Ohio State was without second-leading scorer E.J. Liddell. It will be the first time Purdue has played on only one day of rest for a conference game since February 2000.