WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Zach Edey developed his closing mentality on the pitching mound. He showed Tuesday it works pretty well on the basketball court, too.
The strong, stone-faced freshman scored a career-high 21 points including nine straight during one stretch and led No. 23 Purdue to a crucial 73-69 victory over No. 25 Wisconsin.
“When the score gets close, my emotions come out and my inner competitiveness comes out,” said Edey, who was a closer for his high school baseball team. “I love to compete in situations like that when the team’s leaning on me like that.”
With the Boilermakers in second-half foul trouble, the 7-foot-4 center did more than just stand tall. He delivered time after time — going 8 of 11 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds.
And after his initial flurry helped steady Purdue (17-8, 12-6 Big Ten), the Boilermakers never trailed again. Purdue has won four straight and five of its last six and is now in position to secure a double-bye in next week’s Big Ten Tournament.
Ben Davison led the Badgers with 15 points while Micah Potter and Nate Reuvers each had 11. Wisconsin (16-10, 10-9), has lost four of five overall —- all against ranked teams — and five straight at Mackey Arena where they are 4-42 all-time.
Coach Greg Gard knew exactly what went wrong in this one.
“I thought we did a decent job on (Trevion) Williams, but Edey, obviously with his size there are some things that are harder to combat,” Gard said. “They got him in good positions and spread us out and it’s hard to get back and defend him. And then his ability to get to the free throw line, too.”
Wisconsin had no answers for Edey — especially in the second half of a topsy-turvy game.
The initial nine-point flurry allowed Purdue to play from the lead and after Ivey and Aaron Wheeler finally broke up Edey’s run, the Boilermakers finally led 61-56 with 4:44 left. Edey then scored the next two baskets to make it 65-62 and Purdue eventually closed it out at the free-throw line.
“The guy was a beast, man,” Ivey said. “He came with that mentality and that’s what we needed.”
Wisconsin: The Badgers haven’t traditionally played well at Mackey. What isn’t common — Wisconsin finishing poorly while trying to finish above .500 in league play. They need a quick turnaround to make a conference tournament run.
Purdue: The Boilermakers have held 14 consecutive opponents to 72 or fewer points and the scoring punch of the rapidly improving freshmen have been the perfect combination to build momentum. Purdue also happens to be 13-1 inside Indiana this season and will play the rest of this season in the state, too.
Wisconsin: Aleem Ford had 11 points and D’Mitrik Trice scored 10. … Tyler Wahl had seven points and 10 rebounds. … The Badgers were 7 of 29 on 3s and were outrebounded 37-27.
Purdue: Wheeler finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Williams had nine points and seven rebounds. … The Boilermakers were 5 of 14 on 3s and committed just 10 turnovers. … Purdue outscored Wisconsin 36-20 in the paint.
Purdue improved to 17-8 overall and 12-6 in the Big Ten Conference with a 73-69 win over No. 25-ranked Wisconsin at Mackey Arena on Tuesday night.
The win was Purdue’s fourth in a row, tying its longest win streak of the season.
Purdue now leads the all-time series with Wisconsin by a 111-72 margin, including a 42-4 mark at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers have won five straight home games against the Badgers.
Purdue has won seven of the last nine games against Wisconsin.
Purdue has now held 14 straight opponents to 72 or fewer points.
Through Tuesday’s games, Purdue (18th offense, 18th defense) is one of five teams to rank in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom (Gonzaga, Michigan, Illinois, Houston, Purdue).
Purdue is now 55-9 at home against Big Ten teams since the start of the 2014-15 season.
Purdue has won at least 12 Big Ten games in six of the last seven seasons, the only program that has reached 12 wins in at least six seasons.
Purdue improved to 10-1 at home this season and is tied with Michigan for the fewest home losses in the Big Ten play this season (Purdue – 7-1; Michigan 7-1).
Purdue is now 24-23 against nationally-ranked teams since the start of the 2016-17 season. The 24 wins are tied for the seventh-most nationally in that span.
Purdue’s five wins over ranked teams this year (5-4 record) are tied for the fifth most in America (Iowa, Kansas – 7; Michigan, Oklahoma State – 6). Purdue’s 10 wins over ranked teams since the start of last year are also the sixth-most nationally (Iowa – 14; Kansas, Michigan State, Ohio State, Baylor – 11).
Purdue has won at least five games against ranked teams in three straight years for the first time in school history.
Purdue has won 15 straight games when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.
Purdue’s freshman class scored 42 of its 73 points in the win over Wisconsin. It marks the seventh time this season it has accounted for at least 50.0 percent of Purdue’s scoring (5-2 record). It has happened three times in the last eight games. In Big Ten play, the class has accounted for 44.0 percent of Purdue’s points.
Zach Edey scored a career-high 21 points (8-11 FGs, 5-7 FTs) with seven rebounds and a blocked shot in only 17:31 of action. He becomes the fourth player nationally to have at least 20 and 7 in under 18 minutes of action.
Freshman Jaden Ivey scored 18 points with three rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. Ivey is averaging 14.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 blocked shots over the last four games.
Aaron Wheeler scored a season-high 11 points with six rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot, making 3-of-3 from long range and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. In the last three games, Wheeler is averaging 7.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in just 17.0 minutes per game. He is 5-of-6 from long range in the last three games.