WEST LAFAYETTE – Mike Watkins had 19 points and 10 rebounds and No. 13 Penn State made 14 3-pointers to take down Purdue at Mackey Arena on Tuesday night, ending the Boilermakers' three-game winninh streak. Trevion Williams led the Boilermakers with 17 points and 10 rebounds, his sixth double-double of the season.
- Purdue gets a taste of its own medicine: After shooting 54% from beyond the 3-point line in its last two games, a shooting barrage that carried it to wins over Iowa and Indiana, the Boilermakers met a team equally hot from long distance. The Nittany Lions came out firing away from 3-point range and didn't stop throughout the first half, with 65.5% of their attempts from the field coming from beyond the arc in the opening period and 10 of those 3s falling to pace the visitors to a 42-30 halftime lead. Some of the 3-pointers were the result of Purdue doubling down on the Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins going to the basket, which the Boilermakers did aggressively, but Penn State also made several outside shots with hands right in their faces. The Nittany Lions came in shooting 32.6% on 3-pointers this season, the 220th-best rate of 353 Division I teams, but went 14 for 26 (54% tonight), a figure that was too much for Purdue to overcome.
- Purdue ran its offense...and didn't make many shots: The Boilermakers did a good job during their three-game winning streak of moving the ball and finding holes on defense. Last year, Tom Izzo called Purdue the best cutting and screening team in the country and although this year's Boilermakers aren't quite at that level, they still have plenty of players that move well without the ball. Purdue had only eight turnovers and its passing was very good on the whole. It only shot 46% from the field, however, in large part because of a parade of misses on good looks from close range and a 4 for 16 performance from beyond the arc. That latter stat is particularly surprising looking back on the game because Purdue came in shooting the ball so well and almost all of its 3s tonight were open shots. The Boilers had several rim around and out, but no one made the big shot that could've gotten a run started. On a night when Penn State shot as well as it did, Purdue was at the very least going to have to make the good shots its offense created and it was unable to do so. That's how a winning streak ends.
- Penn State is really good: The Nittany Lions can't get much credit for Purdue struggling to make anything for the first 28 minutes of the game, but where Penn State does deserve a lot of credit is the way it handled the environment. This was a team that hasn't made the NCAA Tournament in nine years coming into one of the toughest arenas for visiting teams in the country and silencing the crowd with an early 3-point barrage. In the second half, when Purdue ratcheted up the defensive intensity and looked like it might get into the game, Penn State made big shots in big moments to keep the comeback attempt at bay. Though the Nittany Lions won't often shoot as well as they did tonight, it's impressive that they were able to do so on the road in a huge game. After seven wins in a row, this team, after years of mediocre finishes in the conference standings, has to be considered a serious Big Ten title contender.
Player of the Game: Mike Watkins
With Stevens limited because of Purdue's constant pressure and some foul trouble, Watkins provided a terrific inside presence for the Nittany Lions. He shot 9 for 12 from the field and affected a significant number of shots on defense despite having only one block. He made himself available around the rim for Penn State's guards and provided a nice complement to the Nittany Lions' terrific outside shooting. It was his sixth double-double of the season.
Facts and Figures
This was the first time in 53 all-time meetings between Purdue and Penn State that the Nittany Lions were ranked and the Boilermakers were not. ... The Boilermakers have not won four straight games all season. ... The Nittany Lions victory snapped a nine-game winning streak in the series for the Boilermakers and a 12-game winning streak against the Nittany Lions at Mackey Arena. The latter streak dated back to 2007. ... Purdue shot 54% (27 for 50) from 3-point range in its previous two games, but hit only 25% tonight. ... Penn State's Seth Lundy led his team's outside shooting attack, going 6 of 9 from beyond the arc and finishing with a career-high 18 points. The freshman had never had more than three 3-pointers in a game in his collegiate career before tonight. ... Isaiah Thompson had 15 points and shot 12 free throws for Purdue. The Boilers went 16 for 25 at the foul line. ... Jahaad Proctor also had 15 points for Purdue and added four assists. ... Penn State shot 56% in the second half.
The Boilermakers are back in action Saturday when they travel to Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, to take on Ohio State (15-8, 5-7 Big Ten). The game will tip off at noon and will be broadcast on Fox. The Buckeyes had won three straight before a 70-57 loss at Wisconsin on Sunday. They have been ranked as high as No. 2 in the country this season.