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Mar 23, 2024 1:11 pm

Utah State plans to get ‘physical’ with Purdue’s Zach Edey

zach edey

INDIANAPOLIS — Top-seeded Purdue will be looking for more of the same from Zach Edey when it battles eighth-seeded Utah State on Sunday in a second round Midwest Region contest.

The winner advances to a Sweet 16 clash with Kansas or Gonzaga in Detroit.

Edey posted the first NCAA Tournament double-double of at least 30 points and 20 rebounds since Maryland’s Joe Smith in the 1995 tourney when he scored 30 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in a 78-50 win over No. 16 Grambling State on Friday night.

“We just did what we were supposed to do,” Edey said. “I don’t think anybody on this team wants any praise for it. We don’t expect any praise for it. We did what we were supposed to do and we’re on to the next game now.”

Leading wire-to-wire, the Boilermakers (30-4) showed early on against Grambling that they were not going to be the victims of another shocking upset like 2023, when they became just the second No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed in Fairleigh Dickinson.

Utah State (28-6) advanced behind a game-high 21 points from Ian Martinez and 19 points from Isaac Johnson in Friday’s 88-72 win over No. 9 TCU.

“I think going into this next game, Zach Edey, he’s got national attention for a reason,” said Johnson, who scored 14 in the second half to help the Aggies pull away. “He’s not just a big body. He’s a really good player. So we have to continue to be physical like we were with TCU and then take care of the ball and I guess I can continue to shoot the ball well and be confident in that and then the rest of the team same thing.”

Purdue led wire-to-wire in Friday’s win, getting a pair of 11-point efforts from Trey Kaufman-Renn and Braden Smith.

Aside from Edey, the biggest factor Friday was the capacity crowd of 16,668 that was heavily partisan in favor of the top seed. With Purdue’s campus just over 60 miles away from Gainbridge Fieldhouse, it was an easy commute for students and fans.

“I always talk about (the fact) we have great fans, but we’ve got to give them something to cheer about,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “You can be in Indianapolis, you can have all your fans you want, but if you don’t give them something to cheer about, they can’t help you. So you’ve got to play the right way and you’ve got to be tough on defense, and that’s our goal, to go out there and we’ve put ourselves in a good position, but you’ve still got to do the little things and execute and help that out.”

Utah State’s front court, led by Great Osobor and Johnson, outscored TCU 46-26 in the paint and could present a big challenge to Edey.

“Obviously a tremendous amount of respect for Purdue,” Aggies coach Danny Sprinkle said. “Coach Painter is one of my favorite coaches to follow because he feeds the post guys, too. We like to do that.

“But they’re a tremendous team. We know the place is going to be rocking, and they got unbelievable fans, and so it’s going to be fun, but we have to be really good offensively and defensively to have a chance to win that in the last eight minutes.”

–Mike Petraglia, Field Level Media

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