Boilers Exorcise their Demons

Boilers Exercise their Demons

by: Shawn Martin, Excel H Sports

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For three hundred seventy-one days, the Purdue Men’s Basketball team has lived with the bad taste of last year’s first round NCAA Tournament defeat at the hands of 16 Seed Fairleigh Dickinson in Columbus Ohio.

The Boilers returned almost their entire squad from last season and put in effort and dealt with the emotions of that defeat – it was only the second time since the tournament expanded to 64+ teams that a top seed failed to win their opening game of the tournament. Virginia lost in the 2018 tournament as a #1 Seed.

Tonight, in front of a very large contingent of black and gold clad fans, Purdue played steady and dominant most of the game in Gainbridge Fieldhouse, a mere 61 miles from Mackey Arena.

The Boilers led throughout and exorcized that demon with a convincing 78-50 win over the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Tournament Champions, the Grambling State Tigers.

Zach Edey – likely the consensus National Player of the Year for the second consecutive season – had two dunks in the opening two minutes of the game, while two Tiger players alternated with him.  He finished the first half with a double-double.

Braden Smith hit a three off an assist by Trey Kaufman-Renn with 16:59 left in the opening stanza. That put Purdue up 7-4. They would never relinquish the lead again. Fletcher Loyer would hit a three with 8:04 left off a Mason Gillis pass, giving the Boilermakers a ten-point cushion, 29-19 – their largest lead of the opening half.

Purdue was a little sloppy the last few minutes of the first half but led 36-27 as the teams left the floor for intermission.

Grambling’s Tra’Michael Moton opened the second half with a jumper, Edey and Lance Jones followed with six consecutive points to take command 42-29 and forcing Tiger coach Dontè Jackson to call for a break in the action. That is as close as Grambling State would come the remainder of the game.

Shortly after that timeout, the Tigers went almost 5-1/2 minutes scoreless, and Purdue (30-4) pulled away further, adding ten points to the lead.

As always, the 7-foot four native of Ontario, Canada, Edey, was the focal point of attention of everyone in the arena. He “contributed” 31 points and 21 rebounds on the night. Nine of those rebounds were offensive and he was 11 of 17 from the field. His only statistical blip was an uncharacteristic 8 of 14 from the free throw line – several of those misses were front ends of one and one opportunities in the first half.

Kaufman-Renn and Smith split 22 points evenly – Smith added ten assists.

Loyer and Camden Heide each added 8 points to the cause. Purdue dominated the rebounding 48 to 23 and outscored the Tigers (21-15) in the paint 34-18. Moton led the Tigers with 21 points while teammate Kintavious Dozier added 16.

Sunday, Purdue will play the winner of Utah State and TCU – the 8-9 matchup. Time to be determined.

That 2018 Virgina team came back in 2019 and won six games in a row in the tournament to win the National Championship. Will Matt Painter’s crew duplicate that feat?

To be determined.

(The following is courtesy of Purdue University Athletics)

Purdue 78, [16] Grambling 50 (Postgame Notes)

  • Purdue improved to 30-4 with a 78-50 victory over Grambling in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis on Friday night.
  • The 30 victories ties a school record, set during the 2017-18 season (30-7).
  • Purdue will play for a shot in its fifth Sweet 16 in the last seven seasons on Sunday, dating to the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Purdue made the Sweet 16 in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022.
  • The win was Purdue’s 12th straight against non-conference opponents, being undefeated this season against non-conference opponents.
  • The 28-point margin was Purdue’s largest in the NCAA Tournament since March 13, 1998 (95-56 vs. Delaware).
  • The 50 points allowed were the fewest since March 21, 2019 vs. Old Dominion (61-48 win).
  • Purdue recorded 23 assists against 10 turnovers, improving to 24-0 when having 13 or fewer turnovers.
  • Purdue has won 18 straight games when having 10 or fewer turnovers.
  • Purdue shot 15-of-27 (.556) from the field in the second half, while holding Grambling to 8-of-29 (.276) in the second half.
  • Zach Edey became just the second player in the last 50 years to record a 30-20 game in the NCAA Tournament, joining Maryland’s Joe Smith vs. Texas (March 18, 1995) as the only players to do so in the last 50 years.
  • Edey became the first player since Memphis’ Larry Kenon in 1975 to have at least 30 points, 20 rebounds, three blocks and two assists in an NCAA Tournament game.
  • The 30-20 game was his third of his career, the most for a player in the last 15 years.
  • Edey became the first player in NCAA history with 800 points, 400 rebounds, 50 assists and 50 blocks in a season, entering the second-round matchup with 836 points, 408 rebounds, 76 blocked shots and 70 assists.
  • Edey’s 836 points are the seventh most in a season in Big Ten history, while his 408 rebounds are the ninth most in a season.
  • Braden Smith recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 11 points, 10 assists and five rebounds, while not turning the ball over.
  • Smith’s 10 assists with no turnovers made him the first Purdue player since Nov. 2011 (Lewis Jackson) to have at least 10 assists with no turnovers.
  • Smith became the seventh player in Big Ten history to have 250 assists in a season.
  • Braden Smith needs four rebounds to become the fifth player in NCAA history with 425 points, 250 assists and 200 rebounds in a season (UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth, Cal’s Jason Kidd, Michigan State’s Magic Johnson).





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