The Journal Gazette
Monday, December 20, 2021 9:20 pm

No. 3 Purdue beats Incarnate Word, 79-59, in return to Mackey

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – Zach Edey scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Trevion Williams and Zach Edey added 12 points apiece and No. 3 Purdue controlled the glass on the way to a 79-59 win over Incarnate Word tonight at Mackey Arena.

3 Takeaways 

  • Purdue was just too good inside: Purdue has an advantage against almost everyone because Trevion Williams and Zach Edey are just better than the vast majority of bigs they face. The gap between Purdue's centers and its opponents may never be bigger than it was tonight. The Cardinals had no answer for Williams, who started for the second straight game and was able to dribble and pass his way out of near-ubiquitous double-teams. He attacked the rim, cleaned the glass and was generally the best player on the floor when he was in the game. When he wasn't in the game, Edey was and Incarnate Word was, if possible, even more overmatched against him. The 7-foot-4 sophomore was able to grab a handful of rebounds just from putting his hands in the air and he got his hands on a handful of others to keep the ball alive. Edey and Williams combined for 25 points on 11 of 14 from the field and 17 rebounds and they helped the Boilermakers post a 46-23 margin in rebounds.
  • The rest of the game wasn't great: If coach Matt Painter wanted his team to build on its stellar defensive performance against Butler, he will have been disappointed. The Boilermakers held Incarnate Word to just 41% shooting, but the visitors went 12 for 27 from 3-point range and Purdue's defense just wasn't as sharp as it had been against the Bulldogs. There were a handful of defensive breakdowns, leading to open 3s for the Cardinals or easy baskets near the rim out of the pick and roll. Purdue's rotations weren't nearly as crisp as they had been against Butler and Painter was obviously frustrated more than a few times as the game wore on. It wasn't that Purdue wasn't playing hard, but the Boilermakers missed their assignments more times than they would like. At one juncture in the second half, the Cardinals made five consecutive shots from the field. The Boilermaker offensive performance wasn't a thing of beauty, either, with offensive rebounding mostly carrying the day. Purdue didn't shoot particularly well, despite working its way into plenty of open looks, and turned the ball over more times than Incarnate Word did. These might seem like nit-picks, but that's what there is to work with after playing a team as outmatched as the Cardinals are.
  • Sasha Stefanovic is an all-around playmaker: This has been apparent for a while, but Stefanovic was the total package tonight. He started the game with back-to-back steals after to get his team going after it had fallen behind early and looked to have his first career dunk off of one of those thefts, but a touch foul before he went to the rim waived it off, cruelly. Despite that setback, Stefanovic continued to spark Purdue, scoring eight points and dishing four assists, the most helpers he's had in a game since he had eight against Florida State on Nov. 30. After tonight's performance, the Crown Point native is averaging four assists per contests, up from 2.6 last season and 1.7 in 2019-20. Once a pure shooting threat, Stefanovic has evolved into the type of "glue guy" that every championship team needs. He affects the game even when he's not hitting from outside (he was "only" 2 for 5 from 3-point range tonight).

Player of the Game: Zach Edey

Edey was a man amongst boys when he planted himself in the lane. He went 6 of 7 from the field and added a career-high four assists to his ledger because the Cardinals were sending essentially their entire defense to try to stop him. He played a nice two-man game with Mason Gillis on multiple occasions for easy baskets. The big sophomore also had a block. 


The Boilermakers were playing their first game in West Lafayette in 17 days. ... Purdue has won 11 straight non-conference games and 12 straight against non-conference teams at Mackey Arena. ... The Boilers have won 11 games before Christmas for just the fourth time in program history, all of them coming under Matt Painter. ... The Boilermakers are 9-0 all-time against Incarnate Word's Southland Conference. ... Incarnate Word coach Carson Cunningham played for the Boilermakers from 1999 to 2001, scoring 886 points and dishing 318 assists in three seasons. ... The Cardinals came into the game third-worst in the country in opponent 3-point field goal percentage at 41.1%. Purdue went 11 for 32 (34%) from beyond the arc. Stefanovic moved him past Ryne Smith for 14th on the Purdue career list for made 3s. Jaden Ivey went 1 for 4 on 3-pointers and has now made more as many long-range shots this season (25) as he did all of last year. ... Purdue had a 19-5 advantage in offensive rebounds and led 20-5 in second-chance points. ... Fort Wayne native and Blackhawk Christian graduate Caleb Furst had two points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes. He struggled shooting, going only 1 for 8 from the field. ... Benjamin Griscti led Incarnate Word with 14 points. 

What's Next?

Purdue will have eight days off for Christmas and then return to action Dec. 29 against Nicholls State (8-4) at Mackey Arena, the Boilermakers' final non-conference game. The matchup will tip off at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Like Incarnate Word, Nicholls is a member of the Southland Conference. It lost to Wisconsin 71-68 at the Kohl Center on Dec. 15. Guard Ty Gordon averages 19.9 points on 39.4% 3-point shooting.

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