PORTLAND, Ore.—The Rose Quarter. The Rose Garden. The City of Roses. Oregon’s largest city is all about roses, and Sunday afternoon, Purdue won rose gold.
In the final of the Phil Knight Legacy tournament Sunday afternoon, the 24th-ranked Boilermakers rode a first-half slaughter to a 75-56 win against head coach Jon Scheyer and his eighth-ranked Blue Devils at the Moda Center. The Boilermakers also secure another marquee win and a morale-boosting piece of early-season hardware.
"We knew coming in we were gonna get tested and really get a chance to see where we're at," Scheyer said after the game. "To play a team like Purdue, the were great today, they were great ... They're incredibly well coached, they played hard, they have a great identity. And for us, I thought we made it interesting there, we got it to six there in the second half. You need to hit some shots, you need a couple of things to go your way, but we'll learn a lot from this."
It was clear that something needed to change at halftime for Duke (6-2) to leave the Pacific Northwest triumphant. Facing an 11-point deficit against a team eager to out-hustle, out-muscle and out-shoot them, the Blue Devils struggled to keep up as head coach Matt Painter’s team took every mistake and ran with it.
Purdue (6-0) was ruthless on the break and hounded Duke’s guards as they tried to kickstart offensive possessions. The Boilermakers were tough and bullying in the paint with a dominance of the defensive glass that the Blue Devils struggled to contain and made the most of their chances from the line, going 16-for-19.
Duke riled up the crowd with a valiant fightback attempt midway through the second half, spearheaded by monumental offensive efforts by junior captain Jeremy Roach and freshman guard Tyrese Proctor and another good game from freshman forward Kyle Filipowski. Dariq Whitehead showed glimpses of his undisputed talent and nearly blew the roof off the Moda Center with a one-handed leaping dunk from the free-throw line that was called for a defensive foul. It proved to be in vain, however, and Purdue’s dominance from minute one ultimately proved too high a hill to climb.
Duke’s efforts turned a massacre into a contest again, but it just wasn’t enough by game’s end.
"We obviously have a lot of things we need to do better, but [I am] proud of the fight we showed in the second half," Scheyer said. "We just need to learn to do it for 40 minutes."
Junior center Zach Edey represented talking points one, two and three heading into this game for the Boilermakers, but a large portion of Purdue’s threat came from its smaller guys. Mason Gillis impressed with eight points on 2-of-2 shooting from downtown, while guards Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith caused Duke all sorts of problems on the perimeter and took full advantage of Edey’s magnetism to find open lanes to the rim. At one point in the first half, Duke found itself on the bad end of a 23-4 run and trailed by as many as 18 points before the break.
That is not to say that the 7-foot-4 Edey was not a game changer, because he absolutely was. The Toronto native had 13 points by the end of the first half to go along with five rebounds, and by the final buzzer had put together a commanding 21-point, 12-board display reminiscent of his 23-point, seven-rebound demolition job of No. 6 Gonzaga’s bigs Friday evening.
"The plan was really just staying on his left shoulder and making sure that we make him uncomfortable and make him get out of the shots that he wanted to take," freshman center Dereck Lively II said. "I feel like we did most of that, but there were some instances where he got his shot."
Edey’s dominance in the paint contributed to Duke’s larger struggles to manage the glass despite its towering centers and usual prowess in pulling the ball down. The Boilermakers held usual standouts Kyle Filipowski and Ryan Young to just seven boards between them.
"I think a couple of our shots weren't the right shot," Proctor said. "It was mainly just loose balls, we needed to win more 50-50 balls."
Filipowski did his best to put his team on his back and carry the Blue Devils out of their first-half funk. The freshman’s physicality and height was one of the only counters to Edey’s towering defensive efforts, and his continued ability from beyond the arc was a useful asset when the game threatened to slip out of reach. His contributions did not change the outcome of the game, but it certainly helped his team to find some hope.
Mark Mitchell and Ryan Young—who usually help shoulder the rebounding and scoring burden Filipowski assumed—saw their influence limited throughout the game. The duo combined for just six points and five boards throughout 40 minutes, a far cry from the 24 points and 11 rebounds they contributed against Xavier.
When Roach limped off with an apparent foot injury late in the first period, Proctor assumed his natural position at point guard in his stead and performed admirably with his increased responsibility. Even when Roach returned, Proctor excelled to provide a much-needed spark to Duke’s offense.
Proctor was held scoreless against Xavier, but his impact against Purdue cannot be understated. An errant pass from Roach to Filipowski early sent the Boilermakers on a fast break and they looked certain to punish the error, but Proctor flew in to grab a crucial rebound on Purdue’s missed layup to send the ball the other way. The Sydney native has struggled with his jumper this year but showed far less rust against Purdue with increased confidence and a 7-for-12 rate from the floor and 16 points.
"The thing that I liked with him is he was aggressive and followed his instincts today," Scheyer said. "That's what we need him to do."
Duke next takes on Ohio State at home Wednesday evening as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
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Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.