Gophers men bowled over by Purdue and Zach Edey in 89-70 loss
The fifth-ranked Boilermakers went on a 15-0 run to open up a 42-20 lead and cruised to a 89-70 win.
ST. PAUL -- Three makes a trend.
The University of Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team was competitive early against Purdue, but similar to their two previous losses to UNLV and Virginia Tech, they wilted later in the first half and the gulf proved to be too wide.
The fifth-ranked Boilermakers (8-0, 1-0 Big Ten) went on a 15-0 run to open up a 42-20 lead and cruised to a 89-70 win at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue’s mountain of a man, 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey, was a nightmare for Minnesota (4-4, 0-1). Edey had a double-double before halftime and finished with a career-high 31 points and 22 rebounds. Edey out-rebounded the entire Minnesota team, 22-21.
“I don’t think there is a team in the country that has an answer for him,” Gophers head coach Ben Johnson said postgame. “… You can survive it, and we did get off to a pretty good start, but they do such a good job of getting him the ball (that) it’s just a matter of time.”
Johnson said the Gophers were reluctant to double-team Edey because he is a good passer and has made opponents pay for making that commitment. Johnson felt they could stay in the game easier with Edey making two-point shots instead of him finding teammates for good 3-point looks.
Minnesota was without center Treyton Thompson due to illness. The 7-footer who started the first seven games did not travel with the team to Purdue. Fellow U big Dawson Garcia also battled illness last week and didn’t return to practice until Saturday. Garcia and Josh Ola-Joseph, who made his first start, were both in foul trouble on Sunday; Garcia fouled out in the final minutes.
When Purdue blew out two then-top 10 teams, Duke and Gonzaga, last week, they did it, in part, with Edey fouling out opponents. Freshman big man Pharrel Payne battled Edey with success early, including physicality without fouling and blocking a shot that forced Edey to fall to the ground. Payne finished with four blocks.
But Edey would have plenty of success against the bevy of defenders Minnesota put on him. Purdue’s big first-half run including him exerting his will in the paint and his teammates knocking down treys.
Jamison Battle shook off the rusty shooting that came with him missing the first four games this season with a foot injury and led Minnesota with 21 points. He shot 5 of 10 from 3-point range.
“I thought our guys calmed down offensively,” Johnson said. “We played a little bit more open. … When you make a couple of shots, Jamison started to feel it a little bit. I thought it was a better offensive effort than we’ve had the last couple of games. I thought the ball was moving more than it has, which is good.”
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