With Purdue the favorite this season, #2 Purdue defeated #11 Gonzaga for the second straight season, this time winning 73-63.
Purdue couldn’t make a three-pointer before true freshman Myles Colvin hit two big threes late.
While Purdue struggled early, its two stars, Braden Smith and Zach Eddy, did enough to keep Purdue in it. Gonzaga went into halftime with a five-point lead.
Transfer Lance Jones almost single-handedly erased that lead in the second half en route to 13 points to go with 4 rebounds.
But Braden Smith ran 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 the glass and showing that Zach doesn’t have an answer after a year. He finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
Purdue hadn’t lost a conference game in more than two seasons, and it looked like they were going to continue that trend early on with Zach Eddy connecting on two hook shots and Lance Jones making a layup to start. 6-0. Purdue and Gonzaga played in the PK85 last season and Purdue steamrolled the Jacks, and it looks like Purdue wanted to do the same with this season’s team.
But a regrouped Jags team that refused to play the same script two seasons in a row immediately responded, going on a 12-straight run to outscore Purdue 12-6. Gonzaga wouldn’t relinquish that lead for the entire first half, trailing Purdue by a long shot most of the season.
Braden Smith and Zach Eddy combined for 23 of Purdue’s 30 first-half points.
When Eddie got to the line and did more of his damage on 7 of 8 free throw attempts, the Jacks were able to compete and force him into long hook shots that he couldn’t convert. Edey had an uncharacteristic 4 of 11 shooting performance in the first half.
For the Jacks on offense, spreading the ball around and knocking down shots on the perimeter, five different players knocked down three-pointers to keep them ahead of Purdue.
But Purdue’s depth was an advantage over the Jacks as both teams went into the half. The Jags led 35-30, but five Jags went into the half with 2 personal fouls, including Graham Ike for 10 points and a game high +9 +/-
Purdue erased a five-point lead early as Lance Jones continued to hit the rim, got two layups to go in transition, then tied the game at 39-39 on a Braden Smith drive and kick three minutes into the second half.
When Jones didn’t make shots, Zach Eddy cleaned up Purdue’s offense, holding Purdue’s offense until Purdue converted again.
Jones, assisted by another Braden Smith, gave Purdue its biggest lead of the game at 46-43 with 13:14 to play. Smith slid between two jacks to grab a defensive rebound and pushed it up court, only to find Jones streaking down the left side of the floor. Jones used a layup by Zach Eddy for his 10th and 11th points.
Then Camden Hyde. Smith lifted the roof with a baseline cut off alley-oop dunk that found him suspended in the air above the rim. That gave Purdue a five-point lead with just over half to play.
With both Eddy and Smith going to the bench, Purdue was able to extend the lead with a nice Trey Coffman-Wren bucket on a spin move to the post and Jones hitting a driving lane. Jones then drove and found Coffman-Renn for another layup, putting Purdue up 54-47 with 9:30 left in the second half.
Gonzaga had four points off a Braden Huff dunk and an Anton Watson off a Mason Gillis turnover, but Eddy and Smith answered again for Purdue.
Eddy made contact inside without a whistle, then Smith hit the ground, got the call, and the floater fell, pushing Purdue’s lead to 61-53 with 5:44 left.
For Purdue, figuring out which lineup to shut down will be one of the toughest puzzles of Matt Painter’s season.
Miles Colvin may have forced his way into that equation, as true freshman Colvin hit another big 3 when Smith found Colvin wide open in the left corner. Colvin took a breather, then got up and knocked down his first basket of the game to push Purdue’s lead to 66-55 with 3:45 left.
If the first wasn’t convincing, Colvin could have extended the second to twelve.
Caleb Furst then sealed the game with a steal around half court to put Purdue up 71-57 with less than three to play.