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NCAA 2022 East Region: #3 Purdue 78 vs #14 Yale 56- Ivey League

#3 seed Purdue dominated in Milwaukee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 2022.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round Milwaukee- Yale vs Purdue Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

#3 seed Purdue got the message from Thursday, it doesn’t matter what seed you’re playing, you gotta bring your best. After a day of upsets, including the #2 seed Kentucky Wildcats losing to St. Peters, the East Region’s Friday started with a bit more normalcy as Purdue dominated the #14 seed Yale Bulldogs, 78-56.

Early in the first half, Yale was attempting to inbound the ball from their own baseline. Jaden Ivey, Purdue’s sophomore guard and All-American, was defending the inbounds. He leaped once, arms flailing, and then he leaped again, his head nearly level with the back board. His third leap was somehow even higher, maybe because this time it had real purpose. His arm stretched and his hand reached up a good 11 feet in the air and the too bright orange ball attempting to go over his head was batted up. Ivey landed again, but only barely, and then was up in the air this time controlling the ball and coming down with it, forcing a Yale foul and setting himself up with even more free throws in a half dominated at the line by Purdue.

Ivey was phenomenal in the first half on offense, scoring 18 points, and getting to the line 9 times on his way to 22 points on an efficient 13 attempts, but Purdue didn’t come into the NCAA Tournament with an offensive issue, recent struggles aside, they came in with a defensive efficiency and image problem. The problem, they didn’t really play any of it, defense that is

Against Yale, their star guard helped Purdue might know where the switch is after all. They flipped it against Yale, and reminded the country what a great offensive team is capable of when they play some defense, too. If Ivey keeps dominating like this, some defense might be all they need.

The #3 seed Purdue Boilermakers offense was on display early with Jaden Ivey getting things going with three 3’s in the first half, but he wasn’t alone as big man Zach Edey grabbed 4 offensive rebounds. Edey finished the game with 16 points and 9 rebounds in 19 minutes of action. The 7’4” giant was too big for any of Yale’s inside players to handle. A familiar story for a Purdue team that didn’t lose a single non-conference game during the season.

The pair of sophomores combined to score 31 points and got to the line 15 times in the first half, setting a tone of early dominance that displayed Purdue’s advantages of size and speed against a physical but over matched Yale squad.

If Purdue’s starters controlling the game wasn’t enough, Coach Painter also got help from his bench. Trevion Williams was quiet with points, but had a near double-double, and added 4 assists to go with his 8 points and 9 rebounds.

But it was true freshman Caleb Furst’s offensive explosion and spark that helped Purdue pull away mid way through the first half. He had 10 points on a perfect 2 of 2 from the floor, including 6 trips to the line and one made three point attempts.

The only thing Purdue failed to do in the first half was to get struggling sharp shooter Sasha Stefanovic going.

After struggling in the Big Ten Tournament from three going 3 of 14, Sasha Stefanovic was hoping to bounce back strong in Milwaukee. Coach Painter seemed to want the same, calling his number early and getting him a couple early open looks, but the senior who is playing in his third NCAA Tournament couldn’t convert in the first half. He missed from the right wing, the left wing, and finally from straight on where his shot barely careened off the right of the rim. The career 39% three point shooter went 0 for 5 in the first half.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise that they went back to Stefanovic in the second half, and in the span of about a minute of game time, Sasha finally saw the ball go in the hoop. First, on a wide open look on the right wing to stretch the double-digit lead even further, and then after a wild sequence that started with a steal, included a missed Jaden Ivey alley-oop attempt, a missed put back attempt, and then Sasha’s shot spinning in and out and then back in at the rim.

The senior finished with just 6 points, but if they get him going for the second round, it’s hard to imagine any basket in the tournament being more important for Coach Painter and his Boilermakers.

Purdue will now await the winner of #6 seed Texas, coached by Chris Beard who has knocked Purdue out of the conference twice, and #11 seed Virginia Tech.