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Journal & Courier Purdue insider Nathan Baird on how the Boilermakers, playing as Team USA, needed a strong test from a FIBA opponent prior to the World University Games.
Nathan Baird/Journal & Courier

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue’s two exhibition victories as Team USA over Canada this weekend followed a similar storyline.

In Friday’s victory at Carmel — and again in Saturday’s 103-91 overtime win at Lafayette Jeff’s Crawley Center — the Boilermakers muddled into the fourth quarter. Yet in the most crucial stretches of the game, Purdue summoned some of its best offensive and defensive moments.

Purdue leaves Sunday for the World University Games in Chinese Taipei, where it will attempt to refine its performance while carrying over that clutch mentality.

“Coach (Matt) Painter has told us it’s going to take a gold medal mentality to get us to the gold medal round,” said senior center Isaac Haas, whose and-one late in regulation forced overtime.

“But the thing we’ve got to work on is maintaining that mentality throughout the entire game. There were times we’d make some great plays when we had that mentality, then we’d slack off.”

Vincent Edwards scored 25 points on 11 of 17 shooting with eight rebounds. After sitting his starters for a long stretch of the first half, Painter rode them throughout the second. 

Purdue shot well on the free throw line, poorly from 3-point range and leaves for Taiwan with real concerns about turnovers after committing 36 in two games.

Four takeaways from Saturday’s game: 

On the boards: One of Purdue’s biggest questions coming into the season is how it replaces the sheer rebounding volume of Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan. 

Defensive rebounding was a factor Saturday. Canada grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. Two came on crucial second-chance baskets in the final six minutes as…