Purdue basketball edged out Rutgers 70-65 in the Big Ten Conference quarterfinals to advance to the next round on Saturday. The Boilermakers came into the tournament as the top seed in the Big Ten and will face Ohio State next after the Buckeyes upset Michigan State.
Purdue star Zach Edey scored a team-high 17 points and added 19 rebounds and three assists. Fletcher Loyer scored 13 points and Braden Smith added nine points with four assists. Purdue led 31-27 at halftime and Ethan Morton converted a clutch free throw to extend the lead to four with four seconds remaining.
“I just think we have good balance,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “I always talk about everybody’s going to have to sacrifice to be able to win big, and then if you win big collectively, you get individual honors, where obviously that goes against my theory for a couple of our guys.”
Coupled with its usual defensive intensity, Rutgers was on fire out of the gates offensively. The Scarlet Knights made five of their first six shots from the field, including 3-of-4 from the 3-point line.
Senior guard Paul Mulcahy — who had 16 points against the Boilermakers at Mackey Arena on Jan. 2 — led the way by scoring eight of his 10 points in the first half.
Purdue didn’t make it any easier on itself and committed three turnovers in the first four minutes of the game. In the first meeting between the two teams, Rutgers scored 18 points off 13 turnovers.
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Mason Gillis, Purdue: Gillis went 4-for-4 shooting in the first half when Purdue otherwise had shooting struggles. But it was more his ability to attack the glass and defend that helped Purdue overcome its early hole. Gillis’ 3 to end the half was a huge boost going into the locker room. He finished with 20 points and nine rebounds on 7 of 8 shooting.
David Jenkins Jr., Purdue: Jenkins played his role all season long. On Friday, the Boilermakers needed the David Jenkins who was an elite scorer at other stops on his four-college tour. His 12 points is his high for Jenkins’ one season with the Boilermakers. He also supplied heavy minutes at point guard. Jenkins was 4 of 4 from the field, converting a conventional three-point play to go with three 3s.
Zach Edey, Purdue: Again, not Edey’s best. But he’s been elevated because of the remarkable season he’s had that more is expected. It’s come to the point where 16 points and 11 rebounds is considered subpar. That should never be the case, even if you are the Big Ten Player of the Year.
“That’s kind of the role I’ve been trying to take on, and if the shots fall, that’s good to add on. Just staying ready offensively and defensively.”
Purdue found its first lead of the contest on an individual 6-0 run from Edey, who scored back-to-back baskets despite getting fouled. He knocked down both free-throw attempts to take a 25-24 lead with 1:59 left in the half.
Edey scored 10 points and six rebounds before halftime, and junior forward Mason Gillis also had 10 by going 4-of-4 from the floor. He drilled a 3-pointer just before the break, and the Boilermakers went into the locker room leading 29-28.
Coming into Friday, Purdue was 1-5 in its last six games against Rutgers. Two years in a row, a late 3 buried the Boilermakers when they were ranked No. 1.
On Jan. 2, Rutgers’ win at Mackey was Purdue’s first loss of the season and its only loss through 23 games.
Friday’s quarterfinal victory was Purdue’s second over the Scarlet Knights since its win at Mackey Arena in January 2019.
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