The Purdue Boilermakers defeated the Morehead State Eagles 87 to 57 in front of a sold out Mackey Arena. The Boilers started out hot again with a 15-0 run to begin the game but struggled at times to contain the Eagles Riley Minix who scored 18 points. Purdue was without Ethan Morton who was out with an illness who would have likely drawn the assignment against Minix once he started getting going in the first half.
The Boilers were led by Zach Edey’s 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks in just 24 minutes of play. Edey was a model of consistency from the free throw line as he went 8-9 and made the Eagles pay when he went to the rim to score and was fouled. Edey put Morehead State into a bind when he was on the floor and his ability to clog the lane and block shots made it difficult for a team who shot just 7 of 31 from behind the arc.
As good as Edey was, this was a bit of a coming out party for Lance Jones and what he brings to the team this year. The 5th year transfer guard scored 15 points on 6-10 shooting and 3-6 from behind the arc, none more impressive than his pull up three in transition from eight feet behind the arc. That sparked the Mackey crowd in the second half where the Boilers pushed the lead to as high as 31.
Jones has been a revelation for the Boilers through the first two games as he has flashed a grit and gnarly attitude that the team just didn’t possess last season. His confidence he gained through his time as the primary scorer and the primary perimeter defender at Southern Illinois has helped elevate this team from a confidence standpoint. When paired with Braden Smith, having two guards who can handle the ball and who can juice up opposing ball handlers and play off one another.
Smith, who is showing a lot more of an emphasis and confidence to take a more primary scoring role, scored seven of the Boilers first fifteen points in that opening run that put the Eagles behind the eight ball. Smith ended the night just two rebounds short of his first collegiate triple double with 11 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. Those types of games will become more of the normal for a lead guard with the skills that Smith has in the pick and roll and as a shooter.
Of concern were the amount of defensive breakdowns and that the Boilers were outscored in second chance points. That is something the Boilers pride themselves in under Matt Painter and needs to be a focus on to leverage their size advantages. The defensive breakdowns that did occur in this game found Morehead State shooters open for three pointers but the Eagles shot just 7-31 (22.6%). Those shots are more of the product of Zach’s presence inside and forcing a team to take more of those shots than they are probably comfortable in taking but forms are area of need to clean up ahead of the next two games where the Boilers will host unranked Xavier (RV) and will play #11 Gonzaga at the Maui Invitational.
Moment of the Game:
Coming off a sluggish end to the first half, Lance Jones came out in the second half and got the ball rolling for the Boilers. Off a defensive stand, Jones dribbled into a 30 foot 3pt shot that he drilled and forced a time out from Morehead State.
Player of the Game:
Again, the easy answer here is Zach Edey with his 18 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks. But the easy answer isn’t always the right one. Lance Jones showed the kind of spark he can be to help push this team over the top with his shooting, decision making ability, and his defensive toughness. What might be most important is the swagger and confidence that he seems to have injected into his teammates. Jones 15 points on 3-6 from behind the arc with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 0 turnovers gets the nod.
The Boilers will host unranked the Xavier Muskateers on Monday night in what might be the final Gavitt Games between the B1G and the Big East.