The Journal Gazette
 
 
Saturday, December 18, 2021 2:10 pm

No. 3 Purdue beats Butler, 77-48, in final Crossroads Classic

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Jaden Ivey scored 22 points and went 6 for 6 from 3-point range and Zach Edey added 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 3 Purdue to an easy 77-68 victory over Butler this afternoon in the Crossroads Classic at Indianapolis's Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

3 Takeaways

  • Purdue got the defensive performance it wanted: Purdue coach Matt Painter spent much of the early part of the season, when the Boilermakers were dominating their competition, insisting his team was "just okay" on defense. Those average performances caught up to the Boilermakers when their offense dried up somewhat against Rutgers and NC State. Today, however, the Boilers were locked in on the defensive end for the vast majority of the game, holding Butler to just 32% from the field and 4 of 28 from beyond the 3-point line. Often the going on the interior was so difficult for the Bulldogs they were forced to settle for low-percentage outside shots with Edey waiting to clean the glass after the miss. Purdue eliminated many of the breakdowns that gave the Scarlet Knights and Wolfpack easy baskets and made Butler play faster than it wanted to. Once the Boilermakers had a lead and the Bulldogs' methodical offense had to try to make up ground, it was all but over. Purdue was helped by Butler's lack of a true go-to scorer, but the Boilers' discipline and ability to stick to its rotations was impressive after a season of inconsistency on that end.
  • Ethan Morton has a role on this team: Ethan Morton came in with the class of 2020 as a relatively decorated recruit (especially by Purdue's recent standards) and looked like a candidate to contribute early. Instead, a bout of mononucleosis slowed his development as a freshman and he got somewhat buried at the very fringe of Purdue's rotation last season. This year, he is 100% healthy and Purdue is finding a way to make use of his considerable skills. Last week, it was having Morton use his length and instincts to guard some talented stretch 4s who were giving the Boilermakers trouble. Today, the Boilermakers realized they had a mismatch inside with Edey and sent Morton into the game at shooting guard with instructions to feed the post as much as possible. The sophomore showed off his impressive court vision with two perfectly-placed lobs to Edey for dunks and each time he turned and pointed to Painter with a smile on his face, as if to say, "Thanks for believing in me." The 6-foot-6 Morton will likely play a significant two-way role for the Boilermakers off the bench this season and could end up being something of a Swiss-army knife, capable of playing four positions. 
  • Jaden Ivey is a superstar, HOWEVER: Ivey is almost completely unguardable. He was difficult to defend as a poor 3-point shooter last season and is a nightmare as a very good one this year (his 15% improvement from beyond the arc from one season to the next is wildly impressive and is going to make him a lot of money next year, more than likely). He's aggressive going to the rim, capable of finding the open man when the defense collapses on him and his elite athleticism allows him to lay in the weeds on defense and grab a couple of steals per contest, giving Purdue some easy baskets going the other way. Ivey went 7 for 10 from the field and he is the early favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year. BUT (and there is a but, as nitpicky as it might be), there are times when the future lottery pick is a little bit out of control on offense. He is so much more athletic than everyone else on the court he sometimes tries to do too much and dribbles himself into trouble. He's not an elite ballhandler (though he's not bad) and he committed three turnovers today, all of them as a result of too much dribbling. His propensity to dribble into a crowd and try to make something happen hasn't hurt Purdue too much this year, but it could become an issue in a close game later in the year, especially against paint-packing Big Ten teams. 

Player of the Game: Zach Edey

For the first time this season, Edey wasn't in the starting lineup, giving way to Trevion Williams, who earned his slot with a string of outstanding performances recently. But once Edey got into the game, it was very obvious Butler had precisely zero answers for him. Edey grabbed nearly every contested rebound against the smaller Bulldogs and Purdue ran smart offense to get him a string of easy baskets, including the aforementioned lobs from Morton. The sophomore finished 6 for 8 from the field and added two blocks to his ledger. Edey had his third double-double of the season and first since Nov. 18.

Tip-Ins

This was the 11th and final edition of the Crossroads Classic. The event also features Indiana taking on Notre Dame this afternoon. ... Purdue finishes 4-7 in the Classic and 2-4 against Butler. Purdue won its last two games in the event. Butler went 6-5 in the Classic. ... The game was Purdue's last against a major-conference opponent in non-conference play this season. The Boilers finished 5-0 in such games. ... Fort Wayne native Caleb Furst, a Blackhawk Christian graduate and the 2021 Indiana Mr. Basketball, started for Purdue and had six points and two rebounds in 21 minutes. ... Ivey's six 3s were a career-high, two more than his previous high-water mark. He had his fourth 20-point game of the season and second in a row. ... Purdue shot 53% from the field and 11 for 22 from 3-range. ... Williams went 5 of 6 from the field for 10 points and added six rebounds. ... Bryce Golden led Butler with 17 points on 7 for 12 from the field. 

What's Next?

The Boilermakers will be back in action Monday, when they take on Incarnate Word (2-9) in West Lafayette. The game, Purdue's first at Mackey Arena since Dec. 3, will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The Cardinals, a member of the Southland Conference, lost to then-No. 8 (now No. 1) Baylor 87-60 in November and are coming off an 85-55 loss to Rice on Thursday in their most recent contest.

dsinn@jg.net


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