Zach Edey has first 30-20 March Madness game since 1995, No. 1 seed Purdue routs Grambling State

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INDIANAPOLIS — Purdue center Zach Edey took care of some unfinished business Friday night.

He made a little more history, too.

Edey produced the first 30-point, 20-rebound NCAA Tournament game since 1995 and emphatically ended the discussion about first-round March Madness exits by leading the top-seeded Boilermakers past 16th-seeeded Grambling State 78-50.

“You say this was a big stage but it’s just basketball,” Edey said. “I kind of came out, tried to set the tone, tried to play as hard as I could, tried to send a message to the team that we’re here, we’re ready, we’re good, and mentally we’re good. Send a message to the country that we’re good.”

The questions began 372 days ago when Fairleigh Dickinson became the second No. 16 seed to defeat a top seed, but the steely-eyed Canadian refused to let it happen to Purdue again.

The greatest scorer and rebounder in school history finished with 30 points, 21 rebounds, three blocks and two steals in 30 minutes.

He went 11 of 17 from the field and when he did miss, he often scored on putbacks or drew fouls. Defensively, he changed shots, gobbled up even more rebounds and constantly challenged the Tigers with his 7-foot-4, 300-pound body. Purdue held a 48-23 rebounding advantage, too.

Just how good was Edey? The last player with a 30-20 game in the tournament was Joe Smith of Maryland on March 18, 1995.

Edey, who could become the first back-to-back winner of national player of the year since Ralph Sampson in the early 1980s, is the first Division I player with 800 points, 400 rebounds, 50 blocks and 50 assists in one season.

“We played one of the best schedules in the country, we played in one of the best leagues in the country, so we’ve been challenged,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “This is what we know — this is what we get judged on. But you can’t forget to have fun, and you can’t forget to go out there and compete and just lay it on the line. But like Zach said, it’s a basketball game. We go out there and have some fun with it.”

The Tigers (21-15) certainly didn’t have much fun against Purdue or Edey.

Tra’Michael Moton had 21 points for the Southwestern Athletic Conference Tournament champs, who emerged as an early tourney darling with an overtime victory over Montana State in the First Four in their first NCAA tourney game. Kintavious Dozier finished with 16 points.

“I don’t think anybody has seen anything like Zach Edey,” Dozier said. “That’s kind of unreal. What they say he is on paper, he’s exactly that.”

Unlike last March, Purdue left no doubt about who had the better team — or the best player.

The Boilermakers built a 36-27 halftime lead in front of a sellout crowd largely clad in the school’s dominant black color, 60 miles from the school’s campus. Edey certainly played to the loud fans hoping to thwart another early postseason exit, helping the Boilermakers open the second half on an 18-6 spurt. They never looked back.

“I would tell them to figure out how they’re going to handle Zach Edey,” Grambling coach Donte’ Jackson said when asked about his advice for future opponents. “The reality of the situation is I hope you’re equipped for it. We’re just not equipped to play — we don’t see Zach Edey. We don’t see anyone as physical or dominant as him.”

Braden Smith added 11 points and 10 assists for the Boilermakers (30-4), who tied the single-season school record for wins.

UP NEXT

Purdue can book its Sweet 16 trip to Detroit with a win Sunday against the winner of Friday night’s final game in Indy.

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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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