HARTFORD, Conn. – Purdue is on the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the third season in a row and fifth time in the last 11 years. It's a remarkable feat considering the Boilermakers lost four starters from last year's team.
The Boilers (25-9) raced through the tournament's first two rounds with a pair of double-digit victories over No. 14 seed Old Dominion and sixth-seeded Villanova, opening up 20-point leads in the second half or both games. Still, they are perfect performances, and Purdue has work to do before Tennessee in Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday at 7:29 pm
This is a look at how the Boilermakers got here and where they go next
Carsen Edwards, Carsen Edwards and more Carsen Edwards.
The junior's career-high 42points in the second-round win over Villanova was one of the best NCAA Tournaments performances in Purdue history. Only Glenn Robinson had scored more in a tournament game for the Boilers
Edwards didn't win two games by himself, however. He got plenty of help from Matt Haarms, who quietly had two terrific games, averaging 1
Purdue can use its size
It's difficult to fault much of Purdue's performance after the Boilermakers won both games rather handily, but one possible gripe is its volume or 3-point attempts
Purdue took 30 3-point shots in both games, accounting for 56 percent of its total shot attempts. Coach Matt Painter has said he'd rather "sprinkle" 3-pointers rather than have "dominate" the offense, but Purdue still set for a load of outside shots.
Many of those outside shots, 16 to be exact,
In the final minutes of the rout of Villanova, Edwards faked to drive into the road of Villanova, but the Boilermakers would have to try to cultivate more balance going forward. lane, took a 3-pointer stepback dribble and launched. It hit nothing but the guard's ninth 3-pointer of the game, which gave him 40 points.
As the Boilermakers jogged back on defense, Ryan Cline was broadly smiling in Edwards' direction.
“When I saw 42 points on the (box score) I was like, 'Whoa,' ”Cline said. “That's crazy. It's just in the flow of the game. … I know he made some shots, but damn that's impressive. ” Worst moment
It came before the Boilermakers' first-round matchup with Old Dominion even started.
Point Guard Nojel Eastern slipped under the basket during warmups and landed awkwardly on his ankle before falling to the ground. He was helped to the bench, where he seemed to be significantly hurt and it appeared as though the injury bug had once again bitten Purdue at the worst possible moment.
Instead, Eastern was able to return for the second half against the Monarchs, and freshman Eric Hunter Jr.
Eastern, a 6-foot-6 sophomore, returned to start against Villanova, put up four assists and five rebounds and the crisis was averted.
The Boilermakers were never really pressed in the second half of either game – though there were a few moments late against Old Dominion when the Monarchs could have cut the deficit to as few as six and Purdue moves on to a round that has been unforgiving in the last decade.
The Boilermakers will take on No. Painter wants to wipe away the previous struggles.
"We're excited about going to the Sweet 16, but we want to do better," the coach said. “We want to do better for ourselves and for our fans.”