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Game Wrap: #5 Boilermakers Stay Undefeated After First Conference Game

Facing a struggling Minnesota Golden Gophers team, Purdue looks the part for an excellent start in conference play.

NCAA Basketball: Minnesota at Purdue Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

This was the first of many 2022 games that could be considered “The Zach Edey Game.”

Purdue opened as heavy favorites, but failed to cover the spread of 19 points. They only won by a measly 19 points.

Edey finished with a ridiculous line of 31 points and 22 rebounds, including going 90% from the stripe. The Canadian giant out-rebounded the entire Golden Gophers roster, recording 22 boards over Minnesota's combined 21. The Boilermakers’ offense clearly revolved around dishing it do Edey down low, but in the game’s opening minutes, he struggled landing the semi-hooks as well as we would have liked. He found his rhythm by being physically dominant with layups and posterizations while swallowing rebounds on both sides of the court and being a disruptor in the paint for a couple of Minnesota bigs who would have few issues picking on guys their own (still very large) size.

Outside of Edey, the fifth-ranked Boilermakers’ off-the-ball movement has remained immaculate as they can rely on him to draw the attention from multiple opposing defenders while Furst, Morton, or Newman lose attention from defenders to find open space on the floor, where they’re knocking down open jumpers and keeping the defense wondering what Purdue is going to do next.

Fletcher Loyer keeps finding ways to drive the lane and land circus layups while staying aware of when and where his teammates are available for open shots or to drive behind him after Loyer draws defenders to the paint. He finished with 20 points and eight assists in a very spirited effort.

Brandon Newman is capable of similar efforts while finding a way to create his own shots, a fact that is very complimentary to his teammates’ style of play in his sixth man role.

Caleb Furst, aside from a travel or two at the top of the key, looks very comfortable in his starting role and in his shot selection. Furst finished with 80% shooting on five well-selected shots for 10 points, adding an assist and a two rebounds.

Purdue started off in the opening minutes pretty slowly but quickly built a lead that, at times, exceeded 20 points. More well-coached team ball from Matt Painter’s Boilermakers, who always seem to know where their teammates are supposed to be and when they’re supposed to be there. More hard-fought scraps for loose balls. More defensive poke-aways leading to transition points. More fighting for rebounds. Purdue has quickly ascended to the ranks of the most offensively capable teams in college basketball because of their shooting talent and the footwork amongst their starters AND what they do on defense to create additional chances for themselves.

Another major point that can’t be ignored: Purdue is lethal from the free throw line. The Boilermakers draw fouls and convert from the stripe regularly, and it’s especially crazy to me how great Zach Edey is at free throws, totally removing the possibility of a hack-a-Shaq strategy given how automatic he is. If a team is going to beat a complete team with a lot of complemetary contributors like Purdue boasts, they’re going to have to catch the Boilermakers on the off-est of off days. This team simply always finds a way to get back to being a cohesive unit even when they’re not totally dominating.

Purdue simply doesn’t give up totally open shots and will force you to try and beat them with well-contested shots. We’ve seen a little bit of that in the Gonzaga, Duke, and Purdue games, but we’ve seen how all of those have turned out: Purdue is still undefeated.

The Boilermakers start off both division and overall conference play at 1-0 after a quick ascension from unranked to top five. Painter’s team will host 6-3 Hofstra on Wednesday, December 7th, before resuming conference play at Nebraska on Saturday, December 10th.

The matchup against the Hofstra Pride will tip off at 7:00 p.m. EST on BTN+ and the following game against the division rival Cornhuskers will tip off at 2:15 p.m. on BTN.