WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Purdue coach Matt Painter gambled Tuesday night.
Center Isaac Haas made sure it paid off.
The 7-foot-2 senior played most of the final 15 minutes with three fouls, banging around and drawing fouls on Louisville’s leaner defenders. Eventually, Haas’ inside presence loosened up the defense for his teammates who used a late run to finally get past the 17th-ranked Cardinals 66-57 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
“We were in foul trouble early,” Painter said. “To be in the position we were (at halftime), I really felt fortunate. In the second half, we wanted to get the ball inside, get some points from those guys and I think we did a good job of that.”
It wasn’t pretty.
Both teams struggled to score and each lost key players because of more foul trouble early in the second half. But Haas showed size still works against smaller, more athletic defenders.
After being reinserted with the Boilermakers (6-2) trailing 33-27, Haas drew five fouls over the next 2:05, spurring a 16-3 run that turned Purdue’s 33-27 deficit into a 43-36 lead with 9:12 to play. He had nine points, four rebounds and needed some extra attention in the training room afterward.
“He got hit right on the elbow and wasn’t able to make a fist,” Painter said. “He’s still in the training room, so right now I don’t know (the extent).”
Vincent Edwards led the Boilermakers with 15 points and seven rebounds. Carsen Edwards and Dakota Mathias each scored 13 as the Boilermakers beat their second straight ranked opponent and their 11th straight at home.
Louisville (4-1) was led by V.J. King with 17 points and Deng Adel with 13. But as Haas banged around inside, they struggled to find answers.
Anas Mahmoud went to the bench with his third foul right after Haas re-entered.
Ray Spalding didn’t fare any better, drawing his third and fourth fouls in a 35-second span that put him on the bench with 13:46 left. Forty-two seconds after that Mahmoud was back on the bench with his fourth foul.
And when Louisville tried to protect its big men that didn’t work too well, either.
The Cardinals did charge back with an 8-0 run to take a 44-43 lead with 7:59 to go, but Mathias and Carsen Edwards ignited the decisive 11-4 run that gave Purdue control with a 60-54 cushion with less than a minute to go. They closed it out at the free throw line.
“We tried to be the more physical team on the backboard,” Louisville interim coach David Padgett said. “I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
BIG, BAD & UGLY
Louisville’s length caused all sorts of problems for the Boilermakers, which is why Painter went with his big lineup of Haas and 7-3 redshirt freshman Matt Haarms.
It helped for a while then was cast aside when Haas picked up his second foul midway through the first half. Sixty-seven seconds into the second half, Haas was back on the bench with his third foul but he didn’t pick up another the rest of the night.
Offensively, it was dreadful.
Louisville shot a season-low 31.7 percent from the field, was 6 of 18 on 3s and scored a season-low 22 points in the first half.
Purdue wasn’t much better. It shot 33.3 percent from the field, was 5 of 23 on 3s and scored a season-low 23 points in the first half.
Louisville: The previously undefeated Cardinals failed their first big test. While they played well defensively, the offense still needs work – and a lot of it.
Purdue: Purdue’s shooting woes followed them from The Bahamas back home. But they may have learned a valuable lesson from that trip as they fought their way back.
THEY SAID IT:
Louisville: “I told our guys it’s going to hurt, it should hurt,” Padgett said. “But if they give that kind of effort every game, I’m going to be proud of them.”
Purdue: “I think we learned from the losses,” Mathias said. “That’s what good teams do.”
Louisville: Returns home Sunday to take on No. 20 Seton Hall.
Purdue: Opens Big Ten play Friday at Maryland.