The Purdue Boilermakers handled business in their exhibition game against NAIA #2 Grace College 98-51. The Boilers took control early and went on a 36-7 run that wrapped from the first to second half from 6:28 of the first half to 15:22 in the second half. That run was largely sparked by the starters for the Boilers who averaged +31.6 on the game with Braden Smith’s +38 leading the way.
Zach Edey played only 17 minutes against the Lancers but scored 19 points on 6-12 shooting (0-1 from 3), grabbed 9 rebounds, blocked 2 shots, and only had 1 turnover. He looked the part of the defending National Player of the Year with an expanded post game that featured a drop step across the lane that he did not feature last season.
Braden Smith also flashed an improved confidence in his pullup jumper from behind the arc where he hit two early three pointers off a high ball screen from Edey. Smith scored 8 quick points that pulled the defense further out and he was able to prod the defense more as a passer as he led the Boilers with 6 assists to only 1 turnover, something he was incredibly strong with over the summer series in Europe. He also chipped in 5 rebounds and 1 steal in 17 minutes of work.
An important piece to determine for the Boilers this season was going to be the bench minutes for the wing players at the 2 and 3 and Cam Heide seems to have the confidence in the staff as he was the first off the bench. Heide scored 5 points on 1-4 shooting but had 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal in 21 minutes. Heide showed confidence on the offensive end with the ball in his hands while also not getting lost on defense and being strong in rotations.
Lance Jones was also impressive in his Boilermaker debut at Mackey Arena scoring 13 points and shooting 3-6 from behind the arc but played just 14 minutes. His high level defensive ability paired with a confident jump shot and ability to get into the lane pushes the Boilers ceiling further than it was last season.
With the starters sitting after their impressive run to start the second half, William Berg took control along with Caleb Furst and Myles Colvin. Berg, playing late in the game, scored 11 points on 5-8 shooting and had 6 blocks in 12 minutes of play. He likely doesn’t get those kinds of minutes during the season but having a capable big like Berg developing behind the current crop of big men is encouraging down the road. Colvin’s athleticism popped off the page and there may not be a better looking jump shot in the B1G as the freshman went for 8 points on 2-8 shooting but went 0-4 from behind the arc. Those shots will start going in during the season and don’t be surprised when Colvin has a game where he goes for 20 points during the season.
Overall, this was a solid game for the Boilers that highlighted some things Purdue can work on before their season opener against Samford. Purdue struggled against some backdoor actions from a very good NAIA team and the second line for Purdue really struggled at times to get good looks on offense but that is likely due to more shot hunting in expanded minutes in an exhibition rather than any indication of what they will look like during the season.
Purdue will take on the Samford Bulldogs on Monday, November 6th in what may end up being the most anticipated tipoff with Samford’s head coach teasing their 5’5.5 guard will look to stand against Edey to start the game. If you haven’t seen the video, here it is: