Maui Invitational: Zach Edey, No. 2 Purdue dominate late to rally past No. 11 Gonzaga

Purdue center Zach Edey (15) blocks a shot by Gonzaga forward Ben Gregg (33) during the first half of the game on Monday in Honolulu. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia)

At halftime Monday, Gonzaga looked primed for an upset of No. 2 Purdue.

But Gonzaga’s shooters went cold as Purdue repeatedly looked to Zach Edey in the post to secure a 73-63 win in the first round of the Maui Invitational. Purdue rallied from a 35-30 halftime deficit and controlled the latter portion of the second half for a convincing win over the nation’s No. 11 team. The win sets up a top-10 showdown with No. 7 Tennessee on Tuesday.

Purdue opened the game with a 6-0 lead on three straight made buckets. Gonzaga then countered with a 14-0 run en route to a 20-12 lead, hitting three 3-pointers in the process. By halftime, the Bulldogs had connected on six of 19 3-point attempts while building a five-point lead. They wouldn’t hit another.

The Boilermakers opened the second half with a 10-4 run to retake a 40-39 lead in a game that was back-and-forth through most of the half. But Purdue outscored Gonzaga 17-10 in the final 6:46 to extend a 56-53 lead into a 10-point win. The Bulldogs missed all 13 of their second-half 3-point attempts while the Boilermakers dominated the post.

Edey finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks after struggling from the field in a 4-of-11 first half. He shot 8-of-16 for the game. Gonzaga had no answer for the 7-foot-4 All-American while countering with 6-foot-9 junior forward Graham Ike as the primary presence in the post.

Purdue likewise struggled from long distance in a 4-for-17 effort. But it continually exploited its advantage in the paint on a 46.7% shooting effort from the field while doubling Gonzaga’s free-throw tally with 16 attempts at the line. Edey accounted for the majority of those free throws on a 9-for-10 effort.

Ike led Gonzaga with 14 points and seven rebounds as the Bulldogs seek a new identity after the departure of senior All-American Drew Timme. Ike joined Gonzaga from Wyoming alongside former Creighton guard Ryan Nembhard as high-profile acquisitions in the transfer portal.

Nembhard tallied 11 points, tied for second on the team with returning junior guard Nolan Hickman. Nembhard exacerbated Gonzaga’s long-distance struggles on a 1-for-9 effort from beyond the arc.

The win is the first over a ranked team for Purdue this season as the Boilermakers look to bounce back from last season’s historic disappointment in the NCAA tournament. The Boilermakers lost to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson as the second No. 1 seed to lose in the first round. They return all five starters from last season’s team, including Edey, the reigning National Player of the Year.

Purdue advances to face Tennessee, which defeated Syracuse 73-56 earlier Monday. They’ll play at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday on ESPN. Gonzaga will face Syracuse at 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

On the other side of the Maui bracket, No. 1 Kansas beat Chaminade, 83-56 behind a 22-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist triple-double from senior guard Kevin McCullar Jr. The Jayhawks will face the winner between No. 4 Marquette and UCLA in the Monday nightcap.

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