Zach Edey and No. 1 seed Purdue roll into Sweet 16 with runaway win against Utah State

Purdue center Zach Edey (15) dunks the ball over Grambling State guard Jourdan Smith in the second half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 22, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Purdue center Zach Edey (15) dunks the ball over Grambling State guard Jourdan Smith in the second half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 22, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — For Zach Edey and Purdue, it was just another step toward a goal. A dominant performance, but just another step regardless.

They want more.

“There’s no satisfaction,” Edey said. “I didn’t come back to make the Sweet 16. I came back to make a run, a deep run.”

So far, so good.

Edey had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and the top-seeded Boilermakers advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament by pounding eighth-seeded Utah State 106-67 on Sunday.

Trey Kaufman-Renn added 18 points and eight boards for Purdue (31-7), which broke the school’s single-season record for victories. Fletcher Loyer had 15 points, and Braden Smith had all six of his assists in the second half when the Boilermakers shot 65.2% from the field before pulling the starters.

Purdue also set a school record for most points in a March Madness game. Edey, meanwhile, became the first player since Lew Alcindor in 1968 with at least 50 points, 35 rebounds and a field goal percentage of 65.0 through two rounds of the NCAA tourney.

Next up is fifth-seeded Gonzaga in the Midwest Region semifinals in Detroit.

“Nobody is satisfied with where we are now,” Edey said.

Great Osodor, the Mountain West Player of the Year, had 14 points and six rebounds for Utah State. The Aggies (28-7) were outrebounded 49-26, and they headed home still in search of the program’s first regional semifinal since 1970.

The biggest reason was Edey, who turned in another impressive showing in Indianapolis, just 60 miles southeast of campus.

Just two days after he produced the first 30-point, 20-rebound NCAA Tournament game since 1995, Edey was 8 of 11 from the field and 7 of 8 at the free-throw line. The 7-foot-4, 300-pound center also had three blocks, three assists and two steals in 26 1/2 minutes.

He became the first player with three consecutive NCAA tourney games with at least 20 points and three blocks since Shaquille O’Neal for LSU in the 1991 and 1992 tournaments, according to OptaSTATS.

“Zach Edey, he’s special,” Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle said. “There haven’t been many players like that in college basketball history. That’s why I think they can just take it to another level. We told our guys, yeah, Zach Edey is obviously a national player of the year, but they’ve got other really good players and that can’t go unnoticed.”

Another win would put Purdue in its first Elite Eight since 2019, when it lost in overtime to eventual national champion Virginia — one year after the Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed, UMBC.

With Edey in the middle, the Boilermakers are hoping to follow in that same path that the Cavs did when they won it all. If Loyer and Smith play like they did against the Aggies, they are going to be one tough out this time around.

“We’re a really deep team,” Edey said. “When I went out, we were good. When Braden went out, we were good. We’ve got a lot of guys who can and sustain a high level of play.”

Utah State threw everything it had at Edey. It sent multiple players at him, tried to get physical and attempted to frustrate him. Nothing worked.

The Toronto native drew eight fouls, seven in the first half and four in the opening minutes to send two Utah State starters to the bench.

Edey easily controlled the middle, scoring the first four points in a decisive 16-0 spurt that ended with Purdue holding a 39-24 lead. Then the 3-point shooters got going, spurring a 20-6 run to open the second half that extended a 49-33 halftime margin to 69-39.

“Today was just our day,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “After we kind of get settled into the game, we were able to establish Zach at the rim. That was just too much for them and then we balanced some things out.”

ON THE RECORD

Sprinkle was the Mountain West Coach of the Year after taking a team with three returnees — none of whom scored a point in 2022-23 — to the regular-season conference title. One of the players he brought with him from Montana State, point guard Darius Brown II, had four assists to break a tie with Kris Clark for the Aggies’ single-season record. Brown finished with 228.

“To me, everything feels kind of like a storybook ending,” said Brown, who played in two straight NCAA tourneys with two different teams.

UP NEXT

The Purdue-Gonzaga game is a rematch from November in the Maui Invitational. Purdue won that game 73-63.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

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