Purdue Boilermakers

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4-star center commits to Purdue

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With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Caleb Swanigan to stay in NBA draft

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Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

Haas, Swanigan lead No. 16 Purdue past Rutgers

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — While power forward Caleb Swanigan grabs the majority of the attention with his 22 double-doubles during what has become a special sophomore season, No. 16 Purdue is at its best when 7-foot-2 junior center Isaac Haas is almost as — or more — productive.

Haas had 24 points and 11 rebounds Tuesday night, and Swanigan added 12 points and 17 rebounds in the Boilermakers’ 74-55 victory over Rutgers.

Purdue (21-5, 10-3 Big Ten) led 45-39 with just over 12:30 remaining, but from the 11:15 mark until he left the game with 2:20 to play, Haas scored 16 points, and the Boilermakers pulled away for their fourth consecutive victory.

“I just kind of got into a rhythm,” said Haas, who scored a season-high 26 points in a Nov. 22 victory over Utah State in Mexico. “I was really trying to focus on rebounding, doing what I need to do for the team to win and accepting my role. It just kind of came to me tonight.”

Nigel Johnson scored 23 points to lead Rutgers (13-14, 2-12), which had no answer for Purdue’s big men.

“They’ve got two great players,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “What a luxury bringing (Haas) off the bench. They caused many problems, and they surround those guys with good shooters. I thought we did a decent job on Swanigan. Obviously, Haas was Swanigan tonight. They are a good basketball team that poses lots of problems for people.”

Boilermakers coach Matt Painter got what he was looking for from Haas during the final 20 minutes.

“His footwork was great,” Painter said. “He kept it simple. He got them down deep and used his post moves. He was the difference in the game in the second half. With Isaac, you try to keep him fresh, but when he plays like that, you don’t want to take him out.”

Thanks to 28 from Haas and Swanigan, Purdue outrebounded Rutgers 45-28. Purdue shot 47.5 percent to 35.9 for the Scarlet Knights.

Purdue struggled with turnovers in the first half (8) and led 33-26 through 20 minutes when Johnson was 5 of 6 from the field, including 4 of 4 from 3-point range, for 14 points, but the Scarlet Knights missed a chance to pull closer when the rest of their roster was 5 of 22 from the field.

Haas had eight first-half points, and Dakota Mathias and Carsen Edwards each added six. The Boilermakers outrebounded the Scarlet Knights 23-10 in the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Rutgers: While Johnson and Corey Sanders comprise an impressive backcourt, the Scarlet Knights lack the frontcourt strength to compete with a physical team such as Purdue, which got 36 points and 28 rebounds from Haas and Swanigan.

Purdue: The Boilermakers are 7-1 since a Jan. 12 loss at Iowa and continue to impress with a blend of interior and perimeter offense, plus great man-to-man defense when they need it.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Having won four in a row and seven of eight, Purdue would be positioned to rise in the next poll if it can beat Michigan State on Saturday in Mackey Arena.

MONSTERS IN MACKEY

Since losing on New Year’s Day to Minnesota in overtime in Mackey Arena, Purdue has beaten Wisconsin, Illinois, Penn State, Northwestern and Rutgers on Keady Court by an average margin of 19.8 points. Now 6-1 at home in Big Ten play, the Boilermakers have Michigan State on Saturday and Indiana on Feb. 28 left at home.

UP NEXT

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights travel to Northwestern on Saturday.

Purdue: The Boilermakers host Michigan State on Saturday.

Four takeaways as No. 16 Purdue sends Indiana to fourth loss in five games

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Indiana’s chance at a statement win slipped through its fingers.

Sixteenth-ranked Purdue downed the Hoosiers, 69-64, at Assembly Hall on Thursday to send Indiana to its fourth loss in five games and keep the Hoosiers’ NCAA tournament chances in doubt.

The Hoosiers led for long stretches in the game but shot just 34.6 percent in the second half as Purdue overwhelmed them down the stretch. Indiana fell to 15-10 overall and 5-7 in the Big Ten with the loss.

The Boilermakers kept within striking distance of Big Ten-leading Wisconsin with the win, moving to 9-3 in the league (two games back of the Badgers) and 20-5 overall.

Here are the four things you need to know from the game:

1. Indiana is nearing the bubble brink: The Hoosiers entered the night squarely on the bubble and missed a golden opportunity Thursday to give themselves some breathing room. It’s all about opportunity cost for Indiana. This loss in and off itself isn’t particularly damaging as Purdue is awfully good and will be as so by the selection committee next month, though losing four of five certainly is problematic no matter who the Ls come against.

No, it hurts because what could have been. If Indiana tops Purdue, it gives the Hoosiers a major resume boost because not only do they simply need to start stacking wins, but because it’s a win that checks off multiple boxes as it would have came against a high-quality team.

Now, Indiana is looking at a schedule that has just one more such opportunity, and that comes on the road against these same Boilermakers, which hardly looks like a winnable game at this point. The task now for Indiana is to pile up wins against sometimes good but other times ‘meh’ competition, and the Hoosiers have to do it mostly on the road with four of their final six coming away from Bloomington. Beating Michigan and Northwestern at home looks to be a must with some combination on the road against Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio State trending in that direction as well.

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2. Caleb Swanigan can’t be stopped: I don’t know if Swanigan can make up the distance between himself and Frank Mason and Josh Hart in the player of the year race, but he’s doing his damnedest. The Purdue big man had 16 points (6 of 12 shooting), 14 rebounds, three assists and a block before fouling out (more on that later).

Swanigan has now gotten double-doubles in seven-consecutive games, and in an astounding 21 of 25 games this season. He’s an absolute monster.

He’s not as dynamic as those two aforementioned guards, and there’s debate on whether or not he’s even the Big Ten’s best big man with Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ a worthy choice, but it’s best to not lose sight of just how dominant Swanigan has been this season. He’s been elite in almost every phase of the game.

3. James Blackmon, Jr. had a tough return to the court: After missing the last four games with a leg injury, James Blackmon’s return to the lineup was not exactly a triumphant return.  The junior went 3 of 14 from the field, including 1 of 7 from 3-point range. He did add three rebounds and four assists on the night, but all in all, in was tough sledding out there for him.

Indiana’s injury woes are well known at this point so getting Blackmon back, even if there’s some rust or continued limitations, is an important thing. He is their leading scorer after all, and they’ll absolutely need him hitting on all cylinders as they try to thread the needle through a small path to an NCAA tournament berth.

4. Half measures and double fouls are always lame: Mike Ehrmantraut once warned Walter White that half measures only lead to bigger problems down the road. It’s good advice, even if in that exact situation it was morally, shall we say, questionable, ut, generally, not a bad ethos to go by.

The officiating crew in Bloomington clearly aren’t ‘Breaking Bad’ viewers.

The stripes, apparently in disagreement, called a double-foul on Thomas Bryant and Swanigan with under 50 seconds left when one had a charge on Bryant and another a block on Swanigan.

Not only is that just a frustratingly fence-sitting call, but it fouled both players out of the game in the final minute of a five-point game. So two of the best big men in the Big Ten had to watch, and the rest of us didn’t get to see them close out a rivalry game.

Double-fouls almost always are cop-out calls that don’t serve much of a purpose other than for the referee to better his fouls-per-whistle ratio. A double-foul that results in a charge and a block on the same play is just lunacy. They’re mutually exclusive, and the whistle – and rulebook – should reflect that. 

No. 21 Purdue dominates Illinois

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — When Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas are in sync, it’s difficult trying to name a better power forward-center combination in college basketball.

No. 21 Purdue’s two interior players certainly were in sync on Tuesday night against outmanned Illinois.

Haas had 24 points and six rebounds, and power forward Swanigan added 22 points and 10 rebounds in the Boilermakers’ dominating 91-68 victory.

Haas scored 13 points in the second half when the Boilermakers (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten) led by as many as 27. Swanigan had a four-point first half but was almost unstoppable during the second half, accounting for 18 points and five rebounds.

“It was Illinois’ game plan not to double us,” Swanigan said. “You could hear their coaches yelling to them to pressure the ball. That was their game plan, and we had success with it.”

Purdue placed five players in double figures, also getting 14 from freshman guard Carsen Edwards, 11 from forward Vince Edwards — no relation — and 10 from point guard P.J. Thompson.

“We have to have balance, and we did that tonight,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “When Isaac got the ball deep like he did tonight, that’s hard to stop. When Isaac is good and efficient, it really puts the other team in a bind.”

Illinois (12-7, 2-4) got 15 points from Maverick Morgan and 12 from Malcolm Hill but had no answer for the Boilermakers’ two post players, each of whom had his way around the basket.

With this victory, Purdue leads the all-time series with Illinois, 100-87.

Purdue made 9 of its first 14 field goal attempts, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, built a 19-5 lead with 13:01 to play in the first half and led 44-30 through 20 minutes, shooting 60 percent from the field (15 of 25).

“With that team, you kind of have to pick your poison,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “They have two great post players, and then they surround them with good shooters. We let them get loose from 3 early, and the 3-point line got them out front and eventually into a double-digit lead.”

Haas was grateful for the 3-point help.

“I don’t think the 3-point success made the game easy, but it gave us confidence and definitely let us get our heads up,” Haas said. “It wasn’t like we were taking contested 1-on-1 shots. We were moving the ball and getting open looks.”

Carsen Edwards had 12 first-half points for Purdue, and Haas had 11. The two were a combined 9 of 10 from the field before halftime. The Boilermakers outrebounded Illinois 20-13 during the opening 20 minutes, although they did not get a single offensive rebound.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini never recovered from the early 19-5 deficit and fell to 0-4 in games against Top 25 competition. Illinois had trouble coping with Purdue’s size and watched as the Boilermakers made five 3-pointers during the first 7 minutes. If Illinois loses Saturday at Michigan, it will be 2-5 in the Big Ten.

Purdue: As the Boilermakers have done every time after a regular-season loss in the past two seasons, they won the next game, getting a nice balance of perimeter play from Carsen Edwards and Haas.

DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE

With 22 points and 10 rebounds, Swanigan has nine double-doubles in the past 10 games, missing only this past Thursday with 17 and eight in an 83-78 loss at Iowa.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

If the 21st-ranked Boilermakers beat Penn State on Saturday in Mackey Arena and improve to 16-4, 5-2, chances are solid that they will move up a bit in the AP Top 25.

ROAD WOES

Including Tuesday’s loss, Illinois is 0-3 in Big Ten road games, losing by 25 at Maryland, by 16 at Indiana and by 23 at Purdue.

“It’s a lot about being inconsistent,” Groce said.

UP NEXT

Illinois: The Illini travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday to play Michigan.

Purdue: The Boilermakers are at home again Saturday for a game with Penn State.

Four things we learned from No. 20 Purdue’s win over No. 13 Wisconsin

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Caleb Swanigan notched yet another double-double, finishing with 18 points and 13 boards as No. 20 Purdue picked up a critical win in their pursuit of a Big Ten title, knocking off No. 13 Wisconsin, 66-55.

Here are four things that we learned from Sunday’s win:

1. Maybe Wisconsin isn’t the clear favorite in the Big Ten title race: Because that’s the way that it seemed entering the weekend. Indiana had lost three straight games, including a game to Wisconsin in Assembly Hall. Purdue already had a loss on to their name, falling at home against Minnesota. If the Badgers had managed to win in Mackey Arena, they would have a two game lead on the two other ranked teams in the conference which would have included wins on both of their home floors.

But that didn’t happen.

Purdue got the win, which, when combined with Nebraska’s loss to Northwestern on Sunday afternoon, means that the Boilermakers actually sit on top of the conference.

2. But it wasn’t just the fact that Purdue won: Purdue is good. We know that. Mackey Arena is a tough place to win. The Boilermakers were favored. No one should be surprised when Matt Painter’s club protects its home floor.

It was how Purdue won that made a statement. After outplaying the Badgers in the first half, Purdue jumped all over Wisconsin to open the second half, as a 14-2 run pushed their lead to as many as 16 points. The Badgers had looked terrific since they got back from the Maui Invitational, when the adjustment was made to use Nigel Hayes as a point forward. We knew losses were coming at some point in league play, but seeing Purdue beat them so soundly was a good sign.

3. Purdue is more versatile than you think: The Boilermakers have used a few different starting lineups this season, and the most recent features Isaac Haas coming off the bench with Vince Edwards, who is more of a small forward, playing at the four. But Edwards was not all that effective on Sunday, which gave Haas, who finished with 13 points, a chance.

I say all that to say this: Most people think of Purdue as a team with the twin towers, and that’s certainly a look that has been effective for them. But it’s not the only way they can play. They go four-around-one (Swanigan, who has been playing at an all-american level). They can play with two points guards, Carsen Edwards and P.J. Thompson. They shoot, as a team, 40.5 percent from three, which is ninth nationally, and are in the top 100 in pace.

In other words, for a team with a reputation for having such a dominant front line, Purdue certainly isn’t just a one-trick pony.

4. You shouldn’t be worried about Wisconsin: So the Badgers aren’t quite good enough to run away with the Big Ten title, but did you ever really think that they were? Because I didn’t. That supposed gap between the Badgers and the rest of the Big Ten said more about the Big Ten than it did Wisconsin.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like this Wisconsin team. I still think they’re the best team in the conference. I still think they’re somewhere in the top 10-15 teams in America. I still think that they should make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament and have a shot at getting to the Final Four.

They’re a good team.

But there is a big difference between being good and being good enough to coast through a conference like the Big Ten.

What Sunday told us was that Purdue will be in the mix – with Wisconsin – when it comes to winning the league title.