The No. 23 Boilers took on Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first official game of the season, and won 79-55.
Right before the start of the game, nostalgia swept the arena as Purdue unveiled the 2019 Big Ten Championship banner just before the starting lineup was announced.
Head coach Matt Painter started the game with junior guard Nojel Eastern, sophomore guard Eric Hunter Jr., senior guard Jahaad Proctor, sophomore forward Aaron Wheeler and junior center Matt Haarms.
At the start, it was a sloppy game for both teams. By the 17-minute mark though, both squads had committed two turnovers.
Purdue was able to build the lead through its defense; the Boilermakers applied their usual full-court defense, which kept the Phoenix playing fast. While Green Bay’s style is up-tempo, Purdue’s defense forced it into bad shots.
Through six minutes of play, the Phoenix were shooting 11% from the field. Even though Purdue led, the Boilers were having issues on offense, having a hard time feeding their bigs down low, which led to free baskets for the Phoenix in transition, after steals.
Purdue also struggled at the 3-point line — the team’s most accurate deep shooter, sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic, sat out of today’s game with a foot injury.
The Boilermakers shot 32% from 3 on 6-for-19 shooting.
Near the end of the first half, Eastern exited the game with an apparent wrist injury after being fouled on a floater attempt. He was unable to shoot the free throws and headed straight to the locker room. Eastern later returned to the bench and was able to check back in to the game.
Purdue went into the halftime break leading 35-22.
The Boilermakers started the second half the exact same way they started the first, playing physical on the defensive. They forced a turnover early in the half and turned that into 4 points.
On offense, Purdue struggled to get the ball in the basket. It was Proctor who broke the spell for the Boilermakers, scoring 7 straight points to extend Purdue’s lead. His teammates continued to apply pressure defensively, leading to a 7-0 run from Purdue that ended after a foul in transition.
The leading scorer for the Boilers was Proctor, who chipped in 26 points, five rebounds and two assists. He shot 9-for-14 and made three out of six free throws.
“I’m a grad transfer in my fifth year in college,” Proctor said. “I’ve played against all levels, and I can score at all three levels. I just know when time’s running down, it’s time to make a play.”
The only freshman to play for Purdue was guard Isaiah Thompson. He was unable to score but showed a willingness to drive to the basket and shoot when open.
Hunter was the Boilers’ leading assist man. He finished with 15 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Haarms showed out, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists. He shot 5-for-6 from the field and was perfect from downtown as he knocked down two 3s. Additionally, Haarms was 4-for-5 from the free-throw line.
In reference to the Boilermakers’ performance, Green Bay head coach Linc Darner said, “If they play the way they played tonight, I think they’ll have a great year.”