Well on the way to his second straight consensus National Player of the Year award, Purdue’s Zach Edey joined some truly elite company Sunday in the Boilermakers’ 75-69 Big Ten Conference win at Wisconsin.
With 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocked shots, Edey became the third player in NCAA history to score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds and block 200 shots while canning at least 60 percent of his field-goal attempts. The list previously included only Patrick Ewing and David Robinson.
Edey looks to add to his already impressive numbers Saturday night in West Lafayette, Ind., when the No. 2 Boilermakers aim for a season sweep of in-state rival Indiana.
“Those are elite, elite basketball players, Hall of Famers,” Edey said of Ewing and Robinson. “Being mentioned in the same air as them is great, obviously. I kind of want to keep working. I’m not satisfied with, ‘Oh, I can tell my grandkids I did this.’
“I want to keep going. I want to keep becoming a better basketball player every year.”
Edey appears to have accomplished that this season by becoming slightly more efficient. The 7-foot-4 center is making a higher percentage of his shots — 63.1 percent as opposed to 60.7 percent last season — and scoring a career-high 23.1 points per game while picking up more assists and blocking more shots.
It hasn’t hurt Edey that Purdue (21-2, 10-2 Big Ten) is getting help from better guard play. Southern Illinois transfer Lance Jones, who led the team in scoring at Wisconsin with 20 points, has taken advantage of Edey’s presence to up his shooting percentage by nearly 7 percent from last season and contributing 13 points per game.
Braden Smith also keeps stuffing the stat sheet, averaging 12.4 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game.
“We have an elite point guard and we have an elite center,” Boilermakers coach Matt Painter said.
Meanwhile, Indiana (14-9, 6-6) enters this one with momentum after erasing an 18-point, second-half deficit in a 76-73 win at Ohio State on Tuesday.
Malik Reneau finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds while Trey Galloway added 25 points for the Hoosiers. Anthony Leal supplied the go-ahead 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining as well as the clinching foul shots with two seconds left.
However, Purdue proved to be a bad matchup for the Hoosiers on Jan. 16 in Bloomington, Ind. Edey drew foul after foul on his way to 33 points and 14 rebounds in an 87-66 romp that saw the Boilermakers establish a 51-29 halftime lead.
Indiana coach Mike Woodson believes his team still has to play physically against Edey if it is to have a chance to neutralize the 300-pounder inside.
“Our front line is going to have to battle,” Woodson said. “We’ve got to attempt to bang and be aggressive with him. There is no secret method. We might try fronting him some. We’ll try to come up with a game plan between now and Saturday.”
Reneau paces the Hoosiers with 16.4 points per game on 57.8 percent shooting, while Kel’el Ware adds 14.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Ware ran into foul trouble at Ohio State and managed only six points in 26 minutes.
–Field Level Media
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