Buckle down and Boiler Up: Marquette prepares to take on Purdue in Gavitt Games

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Golden Eagle fans may want to forget about the last time Marquette played in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, a series of contests between the BIG EAST and Big Ten conferences.

It was two seasons ago that Iowa drubbed Marquette, 89-61, in the worst home loss ever suffered at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Golden Eagles committed 19 turnovers, shot a woeful 38.6 percent and freshman star Henry Ellenson only had three points, going one of eight from the field.

Marquette will try to put that memory behind them as the No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers come to town Tuesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. It’s a game that will serve as Marquette’s first real test and reveal a lot about the team’s potential for national relevance.

The Boilermakers are a balanced, senior-laden squad and could be a dark horse to make a run deep into March. Purdue head coach Matt Painter knows senior players are valuable. It will show tonight, as four of Purdue’s starting five players are in their final year of eligibility.

“People always talk about experience, but I think what’s more important than that is the experience of having success together,” Painter said at Big Ten Media Day. “That’s more important. People will say, ‘We’ve got a bunch of seniors.’ Yeah, but have you won with them? They’ve had a lot of success together, and I think that’s more important than anything.”

One of those seniors is center Isaac Haas. The 7-foot-2 center is going to be a mismatch, no matter who is defending him. Marquette junior Matt Heldt is the tallest player on the Golden Eagles’ roster at 6-foot-10. Stopping Haas will be essential; last season, the Boilermakers went 18-5 when he scored more than 10 points.


However, Haas is not Purdue’s only weapon. Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards is a menace on both ends of the floor, averaging 10.3 points per game last season and recording 36 steals in conference play. Senior forward Vincent Edwards had 14 points in Purdue’s season opener against SIU-Edwardsville and senior sharpshooter Dakota Mathias went for 18 points and four rebounds.

Redshirt sophomore Sacar Anim will likely guard Vincent Edwards, as the senior recorded a double-double performance against Chicago State last Sunday. Purdue passed the 100-point mark for the second straight game, the first time the Boilermakers have accomplished that feat since 1974. Marquette’s chances of winning the game will depend on Anim’s length and defensive instincts. Anim will have to slow down Edwards and the Big Ten regular season champions.


Both squads relied on shots from beyond the arc in their season openers, as Marquette attempted 21 while Purdue had 19. With Sam Hauser, Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey all healthy, Marquette fans should expect a lot more attempts from Marquette’s firing trio.

However, the difference could be in the paint, where Purdue ranked eighth among NCAA Tournament teams in fewest fouls committed. The Golden Eagles committed just seven fouls in their opening game, but averaged 18.9 fouls per game last year. Without many options to stop Haas down low, Marquette may have to foul him to prevent easy buckets.

If Marquette can limit Haas and get some easy treys on the other end of the floor, this Gavitt Game should be less cringeworthy than the last one for Marquette fans.