Game Wrap: #5 Boilermakers remain undefeated after first conference game
This was the first of many 2022 games that could be considered “The Zach Edey Game.”
Purdue opened as heavy favorites, but couldn’t cover the 19-point spread. They only won by a paltry 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 was clearly centered around disting it do Edey down low, but in the game’s opening minutes he also struggled to land semi-hooks that we wish. He found his rhythm by being physically dominant with layups and posterizations while gobbling up rebounds on both sides of the court and being a disruptor in the paint for a pair of big Minnesota players who would have little trouble picking off guys of their own (still very big ) 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 of multiple opponents while Furst, Morton or Newman lose the attention of defenders to find open space on the floor, where they hit down open jumpers and makes the defense wonder what Purdue will do next.
Fletcher Loyer continues to find 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 complementary to his teammates’ style of play in his sixth-man role.
Caleb Furst, aside from a trip or two at the top of the key, looks very comfortable in the starting role and in the shot selection. Furst finished with 80% shooting on five well-chosen shots for 10 points, and added an assist and two rebounds.
Purdue started the opening minutes rather slowly, but quickly built a lead that exceeded 20 points at times. More well-coached team ball from Matt Painter’s Boilermakers, who always seem to know where their teammates should be and when to be there. Several hard-fought scraps for loose balls. More defensive poke-aways leading to transition points. More fighting for rebounds. Purdue has quickly risen to the ranks of the most offensively skilled teams in college basketball because of their shooting talent and footwork among their starters AND what they do defensively to create more chances for themselves.
Another important point that cannot be ignored: Purdue is deadly from the free throw line. The Boilermakers regularly foul and convert from the stripe, and it’s especially crazy to me how good Zach Edey is on free throws, completely 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 many complementary contributors that Purdue boasts, they are going to have to catch the Boilermakers on off days. This team simply always finds a way to get back to being a cohesive unit even when they aren’t completely dominant.
Purdue simply does not give up wide open shots and will force you to try to beat them with well contested shots. We’ve seen some 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 both divisional and conference play at 1-0 after a quick ascent from unranked to the top five. Painter’s team will host 6-3 Hofstra on Wednesday, Dec. 7, before resuming conference play at Nebraska on Saturday, Dec. 10.
The game against the Hofstra Pride will tip at 7:00 PM EST on BTN+ and the following game against the division rival Cornhuskers will tip at 2:15 PM on BTN.