Purdue Clamps Down on Wisconsin in Easy 70-51 Win


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue rarely loses at home, so a bounce-back effort was expected Friday night against Wisconsin.

The answer was emphatic.

The Boilermakers brought the heat defensively and blew out the Badgers, winning 70-51 at Mackey Arena. It rekindled some hope in the Boilermakers after an embarrassing home loss to Illinois on Tuesday. And it was another empty trip to West Lafayette for the Badgers, who have won here only four times in 45 tries.

Purdue (11-9, 4-5 in the Big Ten) has had staggering success at Mackey Arena the past few years, which is why Tuesday night's double-digit loss against the Illini was so surprising. Once their effort was questioned by coach Matt Painter after losing their first Big Ten home game in more than two years, it was time for the Boilermakers to respond.

Purdue held Wisconsin (12-8, 5-4 in the Big Ten) to a season-low 15 points in the first half and the Badgers made only 6-of-20 shots from the field. The Boilers had four players in double figures, with backup guard Isaiah Thompson leading the way with 14 points. Sasha Stefanovic had 12, Matt Haarms had 11 and Evan Boudreaux, who was making his first start of the season, had 10. 

Boudreaux also had a Purdue-high 13 rebounds, including 7 on the offensive end.

"He started because he worked the hardest in practice,'' Purdue coach Matt Painter said of the two rough days after the Illinois loss. "We wanted energy and we had to get it from somebody. When you don't have high-energy guys on our team, you need to find it from somewhere. He gave us the spark with needed, gave us a great lift, and he really helped us on the glass.''

Wisconsin was outrebounded 42-16 on the night and only had two offensive rebounds.

"We didn't handle adversity well, and you've got to give a lot of credit to Purdue for that,'' Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said. "Sure, we didn't hit shots, but the biggest problem was giving them all those offensive rebounds. You just can't give up 10 offensive rebounds in 20 minutes.''

Wisconsin's scoring struggles were shocking because it was just three days ago that Wisconsin set a school record for 3-pointers; they made 18 at home against Nebraska.

However, they were 0-for-8 from deep in the first half, which led to a 33-15 deficit. Purdue reeled off an 18-4 run late in the half during a time when Wisconsin made just one of its shots and had three turnovers in a 10-minute stretch. 

It didn't get any better after the break, either. Trying to catch up quickly, they attempted three long balls in the first 3 minutes — and missed them all. They didn't hit a 3-pointer until the 15:52 mark in the second half, when D'Mitrik Trice made one to make it 45-20. The 28-point lead just prior to that was Purdue's largest of the game.

Wisconsin went on a little run in the middle of the second half that woke up the crowd a bit, but the Badgers never got any closer than 15 points. A Brevin Pritzi 3-pointer made it 49-34, but Purdue immediately answered with an 8-0 run to get back into a comfort zone.

This ineptitude may seem rare for Wisconsin, but this kind of defense has been something of the norm for Purdue at home this year, especially in big games.

Purdue held defending national champion Virginia to just 40 points in December, and that's when the Cavaliers were 7-0 and ranked No. 5 in the country.

The Boilers did the same two Sundays ago against Michigan State, which was ranked No. 5, too, when it visited West Lafayette. Purdue beat the Spartans 71-42, a second 29-point beatdown.