Purdue pushes past West Virgina late, 80-68, in the first round of the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament.
When games get tough, Purdue’s true freshman point guard gets tougher. Braden Smith once again turned it on late, knocking down a huge corner three to put Purdue up 69-62 with 4:59 left in the game as West Virginia attempted to climb back from a double-digit deficit.
It’s not just the baskets that Smith will be counting after the game, but also the bruises, as the true freshman followed his big three with an even bigger defensive possession. With the shot clock winding down on a late West Virginia possession, a ball looked to be going out of bounds clearly off Purdue. That’s when #3 went diving towards the first row of chairs on the sideline and batted the ball back towards the other basket. The ball would go off Purdue in the end, but the bat allowed the time to run off the clock. West Virginia had to in bound the ball from the opposite end of their basket and was forced to make a half court heave.
The ball deflected high off the backboard and with it, the Mountaineers chances to pull off the upset in the first round of the Phil Knight Legacy Tournament.
Zach Edey, Professional Big Man
Another game, another double-double for Zach Edey. Edey had 24 points and 12 rebounds in his fourth straight double-double to start the season.
Edey appeared to struggle at times with West Virginia’s pressure, and had a season-high 6 turnovers, but Edey’s size and determination was too much for the Mountaineers. Painter was able to rest Edey more than the previous two games, with the big man playing 27 minutes after notching career-highs in minutes in back to back games.
Edey went 10-12 from the free throw line.
Ethan Morton, Play-Maker
West Virginia was going to make a comeback, and when they did, Ethan Morton was waiting.
Morton only scored 4 points, but he defended West Virginia’s best player, and spent the rest of the time setting up buckets for his teammates. Morton set a career-high with 9 assists, none more important than when he crossed his defender up, and found Braden Smith in the corner. Smith’s three pushed Purdue’s lead to 7. West Virginia wouldn’t recover.
Newman’s Defense Sparks Purdue
Purdue was holding to a 9-point lead, 52-43, but West Virginia looked like they were ready to mount a comeback.
Erik Stevenson scored 4 straight free throws and was getting inside on Purdue at will. Brandon Newman’s strong defense turned him away twice. First, blocking an attempted three that went back to half-court. Stevenson drove on Newman immediately after and Newman was able to knock the ball out.
Purdue pushed the ball and Stevenson fell to the ground suffering from a lower leg injury. As Stevenson pounded the floor in pain, Newman was standing open in the corner. Newman’s three pushed Purdue’s lead to 55-43 and helped halt West Virginia’s momentum.
Purdue fans were getting flash backs to Iowa games when West Virginia went to their bench early in the game. Coach Bob Huggins brought Joe Toussaint to be a dynamic point guard for his Mountaineers, and the 6’0″ Iowa transfer reminded Purdue of the damage he could do on the floor in a quick amount of time.
Joe Toussaint entered the game and immediately put his imprint on it. He attacked David Jenkins Jr., a transfer from Utah, and won the first match-up of transfers. Jenkins Jr. fouled Toussaint as Toussaint went up for a floater after driving into the lane. Toussaint would lead West Virginia in points in the first half as one of the only reliable points of attack for Coach Huggins with 10 points.
Purdue did a better job defending Toussaint in the second half. Toussaint would finish with 16 points in the game and led West Virginia with 4 assists, but Purdue pressured the quick guard into 4 turnovers.
Purdue got help from the bench, with Trey Kaufman-Renn scoring 7 points, David Jenkins Jr. 5, and Brandon Newman adding 8.
One of Purdue’s biggest questions this season will be how does Purdue find points when Edey goes to the bench. Purdue was able to find 24 points against West Virginia. They needed every one of them as West Virginia had 31 behind a strong performance by Joe Toussaint. The Iowa transfer was the second leading scorer for West Virginia, scoring 16 points coming off the bench.