WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue Boilermakers don’t spend too much time worrying about the college basketball landscape. That doesn’t mean they’re oblivious to games played outside of Mackey Arena.
Ball State’s upset of No. 9 Notre Dame earlier this week earned Purdue’s undivided attention. So, when an undefeated Valparaiso arrived on Thursday night, the 21st-ranked Boilermakers (9-2) avoided becoming the latest victim to suffer an upset loss by smothering the Crusaders with aggressive defense and fast-paced offense on the way to an 80-50 win.
“We had a lot of respect for (Valparaiso) — they were undefeated. With all the upsets going around college basketball, we didn’t want to be a part of that,” Vincent Edwards said. “We’re just trying to build a resume and Valpo is a really good team. We just followed our scouting report. Our coaches did a great job of scouting these guys.”
Vincent Edwards scored 15 points and Carson Edwards finished with 10.
Joe Burton led the Crusaders with 19 points.
The Crusaders (8-1) were giving the Boilermakers fits through the first 10 minutes, even leading the game early on. But Purdue had other plans.
The Boilermakers held a 15-12 lead with 8 minutes remaining in the first half when Carsen Edwards’ fastbreak layup ignited a 21-4 run over the rest of the half.
Purdue forced 11 turnovers in the first half that resulted in 11 points for the Boilermakers. Isaac Haas finished with 10 points for Purdue.
Before Thursday night’s game, Purdue coach Matt Painter gave his team the final box scores to the Oklahoma vs. Ball State game where Ball State lost by 40, then handed his players the final box score to the Notre Dame vs. Ball State game where Ball State pulled off the upset by two points.
Painter’s message was clear: upsets can happen — don’t overlook your opponent.
“I thought we were ready to play tonight. I think there’s a lot of things that are out of your control sometimes, in terms of your guys and being ready or not being ready,” Painter said. “You just have to be hooked up. You have to be ready. You just can’t show up. You’ve got to be able to go out there and play (hard). As a coach, you’ve got to use anything that you can to get those guys to understand, ‘Hey, Valpo is 8-0 — they’re a good team.'”
The Boilermakers opened the second half with an 8-2 run and led by as many as 32 points during the final 20 minutes. Purdue shot 45 percent (28 of 62) with 16 of its 28 field goals coming by way of an assist.
Valparaiso shot 33 percent (20 of 60). The Crusaders remain winless at Purdue and hold a 2-15 record all-time against the Boilermakers.
“We got outplayed by a really good team,” Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said. “In the first half, I think it was after the second media timeout, we couldn’t buy a basket for a very long time. I thought we looked a little bit more like ourselves in the second half. We’re going to break down the film. We’ve got to learn from it.”
ONE MORE WIN
Painter is one win from notching the 300th of his career. The Purdue alum will have an opportunity this weekend to get the milestone win at home inside Mackey Arena, where the Boilermakers have won 13 straight games.
The Boilermakers took care of each of their early Big Ten Conference opponents last week. Purdue has four more non-conference opponents before continuing Big Ten play, including a matchup with Butler in the annual Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Dec. 16.
Purdue hosts IUPUI on Sunday.
Valparaiso visits Ball State on Saturday.