Purdue dominated Gonzaga 84-66 in one of the more impressive and entertaining performances in recent memory.
I’m going to keep this thing short, sweet, and to the point, because it’s 1:30 am. This is a different brand of Purdue basketball. The Boilermaker team out passed, rebounded, defended, hustled, and eventually out shot the #6 Gonzaga Bulldogs. After Purdue’s trademark slow start found them down 4-12 with 12:48 remaining in the first half, the Boilermakers got down to the business of systematically destroying Mark Few’s team. Zach Edey dominated in the paint, Braden Smith drove to the basket at will, and multiple players were hot from 3. Purdue made basketball look easy at times, despite being on the road and facing a solid team. They finished the half on a 15-3 run, and took a 33-28 lead into the half.
In a game dominated by defense in the first half, both teams came out of the locker room scoring points. Gonzaga flirted with the lead on multiple occasions early in the half, but failed to overtake Purdue. Once the Boilermakers cranked up the defense, it was all over. At the 13:48 mark, Brandon Newman delivered a perfect entry pass to Edey, who proceeded to rock the rim. Newman followed that up with a silky 3 from the top of the key on the next possession. Purdue took a 49-40 lead at 13:05 and the Zags never closed it within a basket again. Purdue sprinted to the finish, never taking their foot off the gas. Much like the first half, Edey was the focal point of the offense, but stellar ball movement, and off the ball cuts, provided an endless supply of open looks for the Boilers. Everything looked easy.
It’s one thing to beat the number 6 ranked team in their back yard, it’s another thing all together to make the number 6 ranked team quit in their back yard, and Purdue made Gonzaga quit. Zach Edey led all scorers with 23, pulled down 7 boards, blocked 3 shots, and at one point, forced an air ball from a Gonzaga guard by pretending to close out on his shot. This version of Edey is the best center Matt Painter has enjoyed during his tenure. Braden Smith continues to impress ,putting up 14 points, 7 assists, and committing only 1 turnover. Fletcher Loyer and Mason Gillis went a combined 5-11 from 3, Caleb Furst looked like the best player on the floor at times, proving 10 points, 6 rebounds, and an abundance of energy. Brandon Newman had another strong night on the boards, was a defensive pest, and knocked in 5 points.
Purdue moves on to the Finals of the Phil Knight Invitational and faces the Duke Blue Devils (sans Coach K.) on Sunday at 3:30 on ABC.