MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Zach Edey is more than content to let a Purdue teammate take the lead on offense when the situation calls for it.
Everybody had a hand in the Boilermakers’ smothering effort on defense at Minnesota.
Braden Smith had 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists to help No. 3 Purdue overwhelm Minnesota 61-39 on Thursday night for the best 19-game start in program history.
The 7-foot-4 Edey had 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks for the Big Ten-leading Boilermakers (18-1, 7-1), who won their fifth consecutive game after taking their lone loss of the season to now-No. 23 Rutgers on Jan. 2.
”I’ve never believed that we needed 30 and 15 from me to win,” Edey said. ”We have a lot of guys who can really do a lot of damage.”
Three days after Edey’s short turnaround shot with 2.2 seconds left lifted Purdue to a 64-63 victory at Michigan State, the boys in black and gold gave themselves a breather by flustering the last-place Gophers (7-10, 1-6) from start to finish. This was the lowest final score for Minnesota since a 32-26 loss at Indiana in 1951.
Edey, who had 32 points and 17 rebounds against the Spartans, made his presence felt on the first possession when 6-foot-7 freshman Joshua Ola-Joseph drove in the lane and had his shot deflected.
Edey had 31 points and 22 rebounds against Minnesota on Dec. 4. The conference scoring leader was held 10 points below his average this time.
”He’s had to really work and develop into his success, so when that happens you know you’re humble and you had to do a lot of little things just to help your team win,” coach Matt Painter said.
Ola-Joseph led the Gophers with 13 points. Minnesota’s two top scorers, Jamison Battle and Dawson Garcia, shot a combined 3 for 22 from the floor. Garcia had seven points, and Battle went scoreless.
”If you would’ve told me before the game that Edey was going to have 12 points and six rebounds, I would’ve felt pretty good about it,” Gophers coach Ben Johnson said.
The Gophers shot 5 for 24 in the first half and never found their rhythm – or confidence.
”If you let guys like that get their head up early it’s going to be a long night for you,” Purdue’s Caleb Furst said, ”so we just kind of right from the jump tried to cut off their water supply.”
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The Gophers didn’t crack the 10-point mark until Taurus Samuels banked in a top-of-the-key jumper and drew a foul with 40 seconds left in the first half for a three-point play that cut the lead to 31-12.
That tied a Purdue program record for fewest points allowed in a half. This was also the lowest-scoring first half for Minnesota since at least 2009-10, according to available data from Sportradar.
The Gophers, who have forwards Parker Fox and Isaiah Ihnen out with season-ending knee injuries, announced before the game that backup freshman guard Braeden Carrington will miss a month with a stress reaction in his right leg. Carrington is averaging 6.2 points and 22.0 minutes.
Purdue: Four of the five wins during its current streak were on the road, another promising sign for a stacked and sturdy team aiming for the first trip to the Final Four in 18 seasons under Painter.
”That’s how you’re going to win a championship. You’ve got to be able to win when the game’s on the road. You’ve got to be able to win close games,” Painter said. ”But it’s more than that. It’s having that mindset and being ready.”
Minnesota: Battle had his best game of the season at Purdue on Dec. 4 with 21 points on 5-for-10 shooting from 3-point range, but this was the preseason All-Big Ten pick’s second straight game with single-digit scoring – a first for his Gophers career.
”He’s not 100 percent. I’m glad he gave it a go,” Johnson said. ”They did their job. They didn’t give him any good looks.”
Purdue: Hosts Maryland on Sunday.
Minnesota: Visits Michigan on Sunday.
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