NCAA Football

Purdue 76 Penn State 63 – It’s always sunny in Philly

Purdue 76 Penn State 63 – It’s always sunny in Philly

There are many who believe that Palesta is haunted. Haunted basketball players who never left. Who have decided that the great unknown is not for them and that instead they want to stay and play. It makes sense. The arena has been around since 1927, so many people who are no longer with us played here.

Purdue fans certainly have their heart set on their latest trip to Philadelphia. You all know the story so I won’t rehash it here. St. Peter’s and Purdue for a trip to the Elite 8 on the line against a team Purdue had already beaten that season. Heartbroken instead. When Purdue went to Philly for that game, hell, when I went to Philly for that game, those memories were fresh. They became especially fresh when I picked up my old podcast partner Casey at his hotel to go to the game. It’s a different arena, sure, but the atmosphere was the same. A game most expected Purdue to win, but against a hostile crowd and a heavy underdog. When Jalen Pickett hit a 3-pointer and was fouled, followed by a four-point free throw to put Penn State up 26-21, the déjà vu really started to feel uncomfortable.

Purdue started this game as well as could be hoped for offensively. Eddie made some easy shots, Brayden Smith made a 3-pointer, and Caleb Furst backed off his man to get an easy shot. You can’t ask for much better than that. But then they stopped. This has been a hallmark of their recent struggles. I use the term struggling here relatively, as they only lost one game. After making its first two threes early in the game, Purdue went into halftime shooting 3-10 from deep. This indicates a problem that has arisen recently.

That was the feeling for much of the first half as Purdue ran the same playbook we’ve seen from them of late. Inability to shoot from deep and allow the opponent to take shots from deep. Jalen Pickett was that man in the first half. He was burning. In the game, he was 7-11 from the field, including 3-3 from three (he only made 3 threes in 5 games in all of December). Purdue just couldn’t stop him. He scored 18 points in the first half.

If it weren’t for Brayden Smith and Zach Eady, it looked like things would get out of hand. Fortunately, though Purdue has the greatest player in the country and Penn State has no answer for him. He was THE MAN on the court again. He finished the game with 30 points and 13 rebounds in 36 minutes. He continues to answer calls every time. Can he play more minutes and still be effective? You’re damn right he can.

Don’t worry, the second half was coming.

John Wooden Memorial Player of the Game (JWMPOTG): I know it’s so easy to give this award to Zach Eadie every game, but for me it has to be Brayden Smith. The freshman had a second half that many can only dream of. He found every open man and grabbed every loose ball. It was one of those “I can’t believe he’s a freshman” games. Not only did he make all the assists, he also made a 3-pointer with just over a minute left and was fouled even though it wasn’t called, which really clinched the game and put Purdue out of the game. by a score of 76-63. He finished the game with 15 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds.

One minute and 34 seconds. That’s all the time Purdue needed in the second half to not only regain the lead, but assert its dominance. Fletcher Lauer hit two 3-pointers and another bucket for eight points. Zach Eady had a block and a dunk. Ethan Morton forced a turnover. It was classic Purdue basketball, and it was pretty cool in an arena like that. Penn State would not score until 16:00 late in the second half. By then, though, the momentum had shifted and Purdue was playing Purdue. Bodies were all over the floor and all but the last edge was finished. Sure, Penn State fought back and was a little closer, but the writing was on the wall every time Brayden Smith fed the ball to Zach Eadie for a bucket downfield or Lauer for another clutch three. You could see it defensively with everyone from Brandon Newman to Brayden Smith to Ethan Morton looking more active and getting their hands on the ball.

As the second half went on a 19-5 run, the team looked better than they had all game. Purdue played defense in the second half. So much so that after scoring 37 points in the first half, Purdue gave up just 9 in the first 10:01 of the second half and just 26 over the entire 20 minutes.

This is the Purdue we saw in Portland. This is the team that Purdue fans have come to expect every game since that showing. For better or for worse, expectations were reset after Portland and Purdue didn’t really live up to them.

The game ends with Purdue firmly in control as Boiler Up echoes! it sounded like they were trying to make their own mark on their Palestra. His own ghost. When Brayden Smith’s 3-pointer followed with 1:12 left in the scoring, it looked like the team was really back to who it showed it could be in Portland. They’ve exorcised Philadelphia’s demons and gotten rid of last month’s rust. It was a convincing victory for the Boilermakers. When they returned home, this time there were no ghosts following them.



#Purdue #Penn #State #sunny #Philly

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