Purdue basketball’s first test outside of Mackey Arena was a resounding success.
For the most part.
The second-ranked Boilermakers struggled from 3-point range (4 of 17) and taking care of the basketball (13 turnovers), but was able to overcome some first half struggles and an anemic outside shooting performance to defeat No. 10 Gonzaga, 73-63, in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.
The trio of Zach Edey, Braden Smith and Lance Jones, along with some timely offense from Myles Colvin and Trey Kaufman-Renn combined with a ratcheted up second-half defense lifted the Boilermakers to a win over Gonzaga for the second straight season.
Purdue plays No. 8 Tennessee, which beat Syracuse, in the Maui Invitational semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
It was over when
When the game got tight late, Purdue coach Matt Painter opted to go with freshman Myles Colvin instead of sophomore Fletcher Loyer, who had an off day shooting, going 0-for-6 from the field.
Colvin hit consecutive 3s that put Purdue ahead by double digits. With Gonzaga needing to stop the bleeding, Caleb Furst stripped the ball and threw down a breakaway dunk to go up 71-57 with under three minutes remaining.
Zach Edey, Purdue: Edey’s shot wasn’t falling in the first half. Still, he was able to fill the scoring column from the free throw line, while putting Gonzaga’s bigs in foul trouble. The defense was much better overall in the second half and Edey’s offense was better, too. He finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Lance Jones, Purdue: We’re rehashing the same sentence after every game, but Jones was what Purdue needed and didn’t have last season. His speed is going to be unmatched most every game and that leads to a lot of easy buckets. Jones had 13 points and two steals.
Braden Smith, Purdue: Mr. Consistent did it again. Anybody still questioning Smith’s value doesn’t understand basketball. After torching the Bulldogs a year ago, Smith did it again Monday with 13 points on 6 of 8 shooting to go with four rebounds, six assists and five steals.
Sam King covers sports for the Journal & Courier. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @samueltking.