This past three game stretch saw Purdue show grit in a near wire-to-wire OT victory over Wisconsin, followed by an onslaught of high-quality offense and defense in a whooping of Rutgers. Then finally, a beatdown of arch rival Indiana in another near wire-to-wire game.

It would appear that Purdue is turning a corner as of this mid-season update. Let’s take a look at some of numbers and see for ourselves what needs to stay constant down the stretch, and what the Boilers should tweak if their going to have anything more than a “good” season.

Minutes leaders through 18 games

Carsen Edwards 33.5

Ryan Cline 32.9

Nojel Eastern 27.5

Grady Eifert 23.7

Matt Haarms 18.5

Evan Boudreaux 15.7

Aaron Wheeler 14.4

Sasha Stefanovic 14.1

Eric Hunter 13.6

Trevion Williams 8.8

Tommy Luce 2.7

Kyle King 2.2

 

If you’ve watched any Purdue games lately this season, you’re probably questioning why Trevion Williams has played the least amount of minutes of any non walk-on this season. By season’s end, if Purdue’s going to make some noise in the Big Ten and NCAA tourney they’re going to have to be able to play Trevion Williams for 15-25 minutes per game, depending on the situation. Also, while we’re tweaking the rotation, Haarms should turn a corner and start playing more minutes than Eifert if the team’s ceiling is to be raised.    

Scoring Leaders through 18 games

Carsen Edwards 24.6 (4th in D1, 1st amongst Multi-Bid conferences)

Ryan Cline 12.3

Matt Haarms 7.7

Evan Boudreaux 7.1

Nojel Eastern 6.4

Trevion Williams 5.3

Aaron Wheeler 4.9

Grady Eifert 4.9

Sasha Stefanovic 3.3

Eric Hunter 2.7

Tommy Luce 0.8

Kyle King 0

Team Ranks: 78.2 PPG (3rd in Big Ten, T73 in D1)

68.3 Points Allowed Per Game (11th in Big Ten, 106th in D1)

45.5 FG% (9th in Big Ten, T142 in D1)

37.1 3P% (4th in Big Ten, T57 in D1)

52.6 2P% (8th in Big Ten, T125th in D1)

10.5 3PM Per Game (1st in Big Ten, 10th in D1)

Obviously, Carsen Edwards is one of the best players in college basketball, but I’m not convinced a more balanced scoring effort from the rest of the team isn’t a key factor going forward.

You’re not gonna find many teams that make it far in March Madness who’s third leading scoring option records under eight points per game. For instance, Big Ten leaders Michigan and Michigan State sport a combined 11 players who average more points than Purdue’s third leading scorer, Matt Haarms.

Purdue can’t be expected to be anything like last year’s team that had four scoring threats who averaged at least 12 PPG, but if Matt Haarms, Nojel Eastern, and Trevion Williams continue to excel, as some recent performances have indicated, then opposing teams would have a much harder time preparing for the Boilermakers.

If Carsen Edwards can play like he did in the last two games – 39 points and 13 assists, with a uptick in efficiency – Purdue may be better off than when he’s forced to be the lone true offensive weapon and have to be relied on for 30-40 points to assure victory.

This can be observed in Purdue’s three wins over ranked teams – Maryland, Iowa and Indiana – this season where Edwards scored 20, 21, and 20, respectively. These were games where Edwards had a below-average scoring night, but other Purdue players showed out, boosting confidence for the Carsen Edwards Show’s supporting cast.

Of course, I’ll happily take Carsen Edwards dropping 35-40 points in a few more thrilling games this season, so long as the Boilermakers win. That said, hopefully a balanced offense would result in the defense following suit. For a program that prides itself on a “defense lives here” motto, it’ll be greatly appreciated if the Boilers continue to shut down opposing offenses the way that they have in the last two Big Ten contests – 54 against Rutgers and 55 against Indiana.

Rebounding Leaders through 18 games

Grady Eifert 5.1

Nojel Eastern 4.7

Matt Haarms 4.4

Evan Boudreaux 4.3

Trevion Williams 3.9

Carsen Edwards 3.3

Aaron Wheeler 3.2

Ryan Cline 2.7

Sasha Stefanovic 1.5

Eric Hunter 1.4

Kyle King 0.7

Tommy Luce

Team Ranks: 36.1 RPG

(Tied for 8th in Big Ten, Tied for 157th in D1)

12.2 ORPG

(3rd in Big Ten, Tied for 46th in D1)

23.8 DRPG

(13th in Big Ten, Tied for 294th in D1)

 

Having watched almost all of the games so far this season, the disparity in offensive and defensive boards frankly doesn’t surprise me. The fix to these numbers is quite simple – more Trevion Williams playing time.

The first three games that Trevion “Baby Swanigan” Williams got to play double-digit minutes, he more than answered Purdue’s rebounding struggles. In those three games vs MSU, Wisconsin, and Rutgers he had a combined 36 rebounds which was topped by his 38 points. Yes, this is the same guy that has played 8.8 minutes per game this season, even after these three games and an eight point, four rebound performance in 13 minutes vs IU on the 19th.

The kid, 18 years old, has averaged 5.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 0.4 SPG. In other words, he’s averaging either a point or rebound every minute he plays (9.2 rebounds & points/8.8 minutes).

By that math, it would appear that if he were to play 20 minutes per game he’d consistently flirt with a double-double, which makes sense given that he had 13 and 12 vs MSU, 9 and 11 vs Wisconsin and 16 and 13 vs Rutgers.

Additionally, he had seven offensive rebounds vs both MSU and Wisconsin, and given that, as a team, Purdue averages 12 of those per game, he’s been extraordinarily impressive as of late.

I’d say he should see the floor a bit more, what say you reader?

Did I forget to mention that he would be leading the team in steals if he played as much as Edwards? Well there’s that too, plus he and Haarms would be leading the Big Ten in blocks if they were getting superstar minutes.

Assisting Leaders through 18 games

(Names as referred to by me and likely many other fans)

Carsen 3.4

Cline 3.3

Nojel 2.1

Grady 1.3

Hunter 1.3

Haarms 1.3

Boudreaux 0.7

Sasha 0.7

“Baby Swanigan” 0.6

Wheeler 0.4

Kyle 0.2

Luce 0

Team Ranks: 15.1 APG

(6th in Big Ten, Tied for 81st in D1)

1.41 AST/TO (Tied for 4th in Big Ten, Tied for 23rd in D1)

Turnovers Per Game: 10.8 (4th in Big Ten, 17th in nation)

Plus/Minus Leaders over the last 5 Big Ten games

(via GoldandBlack.com)

Indiana 55 @ Purdue 70

(15 point win)

+17 Carsen

+15 Nojel

+11 Haarms

+11 Cline

+9 Tre

+8 Wheeler

+7 Eifert

+2 Sasha

+0 Hunter

-5 Boudreaux

Notes:

  • Boudreaux has clearly fallen behind both Trevion and Haarms in the battle for being the starting 5-man. That said he’s banged up and only played 2 minutes vs IU after sitting out the last two.
  • Nojel’s double-double is a sign of bigger things to come
  • Haarms also played well
  • Cline Cline 10 for last 17 on 3 point attempts (3 game stretch all 50+%)

Rutgers 54 @ Purdue 89

(35 point win)

+32 Carsen

+31 Cline

+27 Nojel

+24 Eifert

+19 Haarms

+16 Tre

+13 Sasha

+11 Wheeler

+9 Hunter

-3 Luce

-4 King

Notes:

  • Everyone played well
  • Tre was +15 in first half (when they were only up 10 at break), +1 in second (when they won half by 25). Finished with 2nd double double in 3 games with career-high 16 points and 13 boards
  • Sasha’s career day
  • Team shot exactly 50% from 2 and 3 – 18 of 36 from 2 + 14 of 28 from 3

Purdue 84 @ Wisconsin 80

(4 point win)

+10 Haarms

+9 Cline

+6 Carsen

+4 Hunter

+3 Wheeler

+1 Eifert

-3 Nojel

-4 Sasha

-6 Trevion

Notes:

  • 33 of Carsen’s 36 came in first-half. He was money.
  • Nojel near Double Double (10 & 9)
  • Trevion near Double Double (9 & 11)

Purdue 59 @ Michigan State 77

(18 point loss)

Boudreaux +0

Haarms -2

Wheeler -7

Cline -8

Hunter -9

Eastern -10

Eifert -11

Sasha -13

Carsen -14

Trevion -16

Notes:

  • Purdue hung around for most of the night after having lead for first 10 minutes, jumping out to 9-2 lead
  • Trevion had far and away best game of young career (at this point) with 13 and 12, leading team in both stats- first scoring leader this season not named Carsen
  • Boilers not named Trevion shot 14 of 54- under 26%, unheard of in a very bad way

Purdue 86 vs Iowa 70

(16 point win)

+18 Wheeler

+17 Carsen

+15 Nojel

+7 Cline

+7 Boudreaux

+6 Haarms

+3 Trevion

+1 Hunter

+0 Luce

-1 King

-2 Eifert

-4 Sasha

Notes:

  • Purdue led by 17 at the break- 52-35
  • Purdue led Iowa by 26 point at the 6 minute mark- 84-58
  • Purdue was out scored 12-2 from 5:14 to 1:37 left in the game, to finish with only a 16 point win- losing the second half by one point
  • Wheeler scored ten in 15 minutes
  • Haarms scored 14 and 5 boards in 15 minutes
  • Average performances for most of the roster statistically

In Final Two Non-Conference games

Purdue 73 vs Belmont 62

(11 point win)

        +23 Carsen

+11 Wheeler

+10 Haarms

+9 Hunter

+7 Cline

+2 Eastern

+2 Tre

+0 Eifert

-1 Boudreaux

-8 Sasha

  • Purdue led by 16 points at the half
  • Purdue’s 23 point lead w/under 10 left was cut to nine points after 14-0 run in two minutes! from 9:42 to 7:38. Belmont got within 7 points w/ 5:23 left but never got closer
  • Haarms had 12 points and 8 rebounds vs significantly smaller Belmont frontcourt
  • Sasha was a bad defensive matchup for the team despite shooting 2-3 from 3, and dishing an assist in only 12 minutes

Purdue 95 vs Ohio 67

(28 point win)

+28 Carsen

+27 Ryan Cline

+27 Eric Hunter

+25 Matt Haarms

+13 Sasha Stefanovic

+11 Grady Eifert

+8 Aaron Wheeler

+3 Trevion Williams

+2 Nojel Eastern

+0 Evan Boudreaux

-2 Tommy Luce

-2 Kyle King

  • Carsen’s only 60+% shooting night this season
  • Carsen scored 30 w/ 5 assists
  • Cline shot 7-11 for 19 points (5-8 from 3)
  • Eric Hunter’s best game to date with 13 points (career-high) and 4 assists on 5-6 shooting (2-3 from 3)
  • Team had season-high 23 assists on 56.7% shooting
  • Led by as much as 31
  • Trevion Williams had 8 boards in 12 minutes

In the next update I’ll look into where the Boilers stand in the national picture w/all the latest bracketology. For now, my prediction is that the Boilers finish the regular season with a 20-11 record, which given that it would include a 13-7 record in conference, would have Purdue well positioned for another double-bye, and with a win or two in the Big Ten tourney could be a rare example of a 12-loss team in the 5-7 seed range.

(Figure 1)

The assist-to-turnover ratio is what I believe to be the bigger stat, so long as Purdue stays around where it is at in terms of assists per game going forward. Purdue has done a good job as of late when it comes to maintaining possession of the rock, and that has been key in a 6-1 mid-season stretch. Purdue hasn’t turned the ball over more than a 11 times since it’s Big Ten home opener vs Maryland when it had 16, but only 11 assists, luckily for them Maryland had 17 turnovers and 10 assists, and Purdue was able to hang on for a 62-60 win.

In losses vs Texas, Notre Dame, and MSU it was Purdue’s ability to not turn the ball over that ultimately kept them in those games. However, Purdue was also heavily out-assisted in those contests, having lost the assist battle 17-6 vs Texas (six turnovers), 20-17 vs Notre Dame (seven turnovers), and 20-12 vs MSU (nine turnovers).

Virginia leads the nation in fewest turnovers per game with nine, so that puts into perspective the impressive work Purdue did in three of their losses to give them a chance down the stretch. The best ratio Purdue had in those three games (17 to 7) also happens to be the lone game where they reached their average (15) for assists per game, and as a result scored 80 points opposed to the 59 point output at MSU and 68 points on a mere six assists @ Texas.

Unfortunately for Purdue, despite taking 20 more field goals than Notre Dame and 18 more than Texas, and making four more than Notre Dame and Texas respectively, they lost because of poor shooting, and Notre Dame making 14 more free throws and Texas making 10 more; otherwise, Purdue’s lack of turnovers vs both teams, and overall passing efficiency vs Notre Dame gave them the sort of effort efficiency-wise that would win them a lot of games in the Big Ten.

Vs MSU, Purdue had it’s worst offensive performance of the season, but since they maintained possession of the basketball for most of the game, they were able to be within single-digits of MSU for all but the final minutes.

If Purdue’s gonna make a run in March they’ll need more games like the one vs Notre Dame in terms of their offense where their assist to turnover ratio is hovering around 2:1, but that may be unrealistic given that Tennessee, the nation’s No. 1 team, leads the nation in this stat with a 1.71 ratio. Hopefully, as the teams primarily ball handlers, Nojel, Cline, Carsen, and Hunter get even more efficient with their passes going forward.

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Content Creator at Armchair Purdue , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
Drew Cubitt- Growing up in Evanston, IL I come from the heart of Northwestern nation. That said my choice of fandom was neither hard or forced. My parents both went to Purdue and met senior year. I was named Drew in large part due to Purdue great Drew Brees who would be drafted by the chargers just 2 months later. Yes I’m only 17. But because of this, at the spry age of eight I was witnessing the baby boilers of Purdue basketball, and a super bowl victory from my favorite NFL team, the Saints(Drew Brees). It is from here that I learned we can’t all be winners, as both the Saints and boiler basketball teams have combined to have 5 losing seasons since… not to mention myself never seeing a better than 6-6 regular season from the football squad(started following 07-08). BTW my golden retriever’s name is Boiler 😉
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Content Creator at Armchair Purdue , The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
Drew Cubitt- Growing up in Evanston, IL I come from the heart of Northwestern nation. That said my choice of fandom was neither hard or forced. My parents both went to Purdue and met senior year. I was named Drew in large part due to Purdue great Drew Brees who would be drafted by the chargers just 2 months later. Yes I’m only 17. But because of this, at the spry age of eight I was witnessing the baby boilers of Purdue basketball, and a super bowl victory from my favorite NFL team, the Saints(Drew Brees). It is from here that I learned we can’t all be winners, as both the Saints and boiler basketball teams have combined to have 5 losing seasons since… not to mention myself never seeing a better than 6-6 regular season from the football squad(started following 07-08). BTW my golden retriever’s name is Boiler 😉

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