Saturday’s game was all Purdue, with them pulling out to a double digit lead late in the first half, and never looking back. They led by as many as 32 points, in front of a loud home crowd.
The Boilermakers did everything well, in this non-conference play interlude. Defensively, they were smothering. West Virginia shot under 30% from the field, making just 17 shots all day. The Mountaineers’ best offensive performer was Eron Harris, with just 10 points, on 2-10 shooting.
West Virginia played poorly in every aspect on offense, shooting just 3-18 on three pointers. But, the most telling statistic from this game has to be the fact that West Virginia recorded just six assists. Six. To put that in perspective, 21 players in college basketball average more than six assists per game, by themselves.
While the offensive ineptitude is not surprising by West Virginia- they shoot under 40% from the field as a team- it is still impressive by Purdue to dominate as they did. Purdue has shown that while they may not be a dynamic offensive group, they do play good, hard defense. They combine good interior size, in freshman seven footer A.J. Hammons, with good perimeter defenders like Ronnie Johnson and D.J. Byrd.
This strong defense has been a growing trend for Purdue, who have given up an average of just 50 points over their last three games, all wins. To be fair, these three wins have come against very poor competition, in Nebraska, Penn State and now West Virginia.
However, they did use that formula to upset Illinois at home a couple of weeks ago, although Illinois’ legitimacy has been called in to question over the last few weeks.
Purdue sits at 3-2 in the Big Ten, unfortunately for them, though,their next three opponents are Michigan, Iowa and Indiana. To win one of those would have to be considered a success for Purdue. They have moved up from the basement of the Big Ten, but to be taken seriously Purdue will have to stay consistent and beat some higher quality teams.