With Purdue as the favorite this season, #2 Purdue beats #11 Gonzaga for the second straight season, this time winning 73-63.
Purdue couldn’t get a three-pointer to fall for most the game before true freshman Myles Colvin knocked down two big threes late, and Purdue starts off the Maui Invitational with a win over Gonzaga.
While Purdue struggled early, its two stars, Braden Smith and Zach Edey did just enough to keep Purdue in it. Gonzaga went into half time with a five point lead.
Transfer Lance Jones erased that lead almost single-handedly to start the second half on his way to 13 points to go with 4 rebounds.
But Braden Smith was the driver of Purdue’s offense, showing poise and total control, scoring 13 on 6 of 8 shooting, dishing 6 assists and grabbing 4 rebounds.
Zach Edey had another ho hum double-double, dominating on the glass, and showing that the Zag still didn’t have an answer for him a year later. He finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Purdue hadn’t lost a non-conference game in more than two seasons, and it looked like it was going to keep that trend up at the start with Zach Edey connecting on two hook shots and Lance Jones getting a lay up to go to start 6-0. Purdue and Gonzaga played last season in the PK85 and Purdue steamrolled the Zags, and it looked like Purdue wanted to do the same to this season’s squad.
But a reconfigured Zags team wasn’t about to let the same script play out two seasons in a row and had an immediate response, going 12 straight points and pulling ahead of Purdue 12-6. Gonzaga wouldn’t give up that lead for the entire first half, the most Purdue has trailed all season by a long shot.
Braden Smith and Zach Edey carried Purdue’s offense, combining for 23 of Purdue’s 30 first half points.
And while Edey got to the line and did most his damage there, making 7 of 8 free throw attempts, Zags were able to contest and force him into long hook shots that he couldn’t convert on. Edey had an uncharacteristic 4 of 11 shooting performance in the first half.
For the Zags on offense, spreading the ball around and knocking down shots at the perimeter kept them ahead of Purdue with five different players knocking down a three-pointer.
But Purdue’s depth loomed an advantage over the Zags as both teams went into half. Zags had the lead 35-30, but five Zags went into the half with 2 personal fouls, including Graham Ike who had 10 points and a game high +9 +/-
Purdue erased the five point lead early with Lance Jones continuing to attack the rim, getting two lay ups to go in transition and then tying the game at 39-39 on a three off a Braden Smith drive and kick three minutes into the second half.
When Jones wasn’t making shots, it was Zach Edey cleaning up Purdue’s misses keeping Purdue’s offense afloat until Purdue got into transition again.
Jones lay up in transition off another Braden Smith assist gave Purdue its biggest lead since the first minutes of the game, 46-43 with 13:14 left. Smith skied up between two Zags to grab a defensive board, pushed it up court and found Jones streaking up the left side of the floor. Jones used a lane carved open by Zach Edey and finished with an up and under for his 10th and 11th points of the game.
Then Camden Heide. blew the roof off with an alley oop dunk off a baseline cut that Smith found him for suspended in the air above the rim. It gave Purdue a five point lead with just over half to play.
With Edey and Smith both going to the bench, Purdue was able to extend the lead with a nice Trey Kaufman-Renn bucket on a spin move into a floater in the post and Jones attacking a driving lane. Then Jones drove and found Kaufman-Renn for another lay up to push Purdue up 54-47 with 9:30 left in the second half.
Gonzaga had a four point run with a Braden Huff dunk and an Anton Watson lay up off a Mason Gillis turnover, but Edey and Smith responded for Purdue again.
Edey finished through contact without a whistle inside and then Smith crashed to the ground, getting the call, and the floater to fall in, pushing Purdue’s lead to 61-53 with 5:44 to play.
For Purdue, figuring out which lineup to close with is going to be one of Matt Painter’s toughest riddles of the season.
Myles Colvin might be forcing his way into that equation, as the true freshman Colvin again hit a big three late when Smith found Colvin in the left corner wide open. Colvin took a breath and then raised up, knocking down his first made basket of the game to push Purdue’s lead to 66-55 with 3:45 to play.
If the first wasn’t convincing, Colvin’s second to extend the lead to twelve probably did.
Caleb Furst then all but sealed the game, stealing it around half court and taking it up the floor for a dunk that put Purdue up 71-57 with just less than three left to play.