Zach Edey (30 points, 21 boards) powers Purdue past Grambling

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 23 Mar, 2024 at 06:41 AM

Credit: Alex Martin/Journal And Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

INDIANAPOLIS -- All-American Zach Edey scored 30 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and blocked three shots to power the top seed Purdue Boilermakers to a 78-50 Midwest Region first-round rout of the No. 16 Grambling State Tigers Friday night.

The Boilermakers (30-4) pulled away at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half to atone for last year's shocking first-round loss to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson in Columbus, Ohio. Purdue will play No. 8 Utah State on Sunday in a second-round contest, again before a heavily partisan crowd inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

"I thought our guys were really good in the second half defensively," said Purdue coach Matt Painter. "We did some good things, stayed under the ball better. Zach got some blocks, dominated the glass. He had 21 rebounds and they had 23, so it's pretty big stat line for him. Really wanted to get him established."

With his third career game of at least 30 points and 20 rebounds, Edey became the seventh player since 1960 with 30-plus points and 20-plus rebounds in an NCAA Tournament game, and the first since Joe Smith for Maryland in 1995.

"You say it's like a big stage, but it's just basketball at the end of the day," said Edey. "I kind of came out, tried to set the tone, tried to play as hard as I can, trying to send a message to the team, we're here, we're ready, we're good. Send a message to the country like we're good. That's kind of how it played out."

Trey Kaufman-Renn and Braden Smith each added 11 for Purdue, which is hoping to repeat the feat of the only other No. 1 to lose to a 16-seed. Virginia won the 2019 national championship after losing to UMBC in 2018 in the first round as a No. 1 seed.

Tra'Michael Moton had 21 points and Kintavious Dozier scored 16 to lead Grambling (21-15), which made it difficult for the first 18 minutes, trailing just 31-27 before Purdue scored the final five points of the first half.

The Purdue plan to feed Edey was obvious from the start. Behind Edey's 16 points and 12 rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, Purdue took a 36-27 halftime lead. The advantage could have been even bigger, but Edey made just 4 of 9 free-throw attempts.

"I don't think nobody has seen anything like Zach Edey," said Dozier. "That's kind of unreal. What they say he is on paper, he's exactly that."

When Edey wasn't doing damage, Smith and Fletcher Loyer went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc in the first half. Smith drained three of his first four from beyond the arc to help Purdue to an early 23-15 lead.

Edey's block of Antwan Burnett with just under 14 minutes left triggered another explosion from the Purdue fans. The roar got even louder when Smith fed Camden Heide for an alley-oop dunk a minute later, putting Purdue up, 54-33.

Grambling opened the second half missing 12 of its first 14 shots, allowing Purdue to blow the game open.

"I just let (my team) know there's nothing they need to hang their heads about," said Grambling coach Donte' Jackson. "This has been a great season for us. The unfortunate thing about it is there's only one team happy at the end, and that's probably going to be the national champions. We hope we just lost to the national champions tonight at the end of the day."

--Mike Petraglia, Field Level Media