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Zach Edey sets career-high vs. Michigan State basketball — again; No. 1 Purdue wins, 77-61

By Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press,


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Tom Izzo will see Zach Edey posting up in his nightmares for quite a while.

Purdue’s star big man and national player of the year candidate dominated Michigan State basketball for the second time in less than two weeks Sunday. Edey finished with another career high with 38 points as the top-ranked Boilermakers cruised to a 77-61 victory over the Spartans at Mackey Arena.

The 7-foot-4 center’s previous career high came Jan. 16 in East Lansing, when he finished with 32 points with 17 rebounds and hit the game-winning layup in Purdue’s 64-63 victory. Edey was 13-for-26 in that game, and he went 15 of 24 while grabbing 13 rebounds with three assists in the rematch to lift the Boilermakers to the season sweep and their eighth straight win.

"If one player gets 70 points in two games, you can't blame your players for that. You gotta blame the coach," Izzo said. "We tried to do different things. We tried to double him with different people. … I thought we just couldn't cover him. We didn't cover him. He gets in there, he's physical. You can't push him out."

The Spartans (14-8, 6-5 Big Ten) showed plenty of fight after falling behind by 20 points at the start of the second half, cutting it to 10 points twice before the Boilermakers (21-1, 10-1) went on a 18-9 run that was sparked by six straight points from Edey and finished by him with a pair of layups.

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"It's been tough. We've been throwing the book at him. And for him and still put those numbers up shows you how good of a player he is," said junior point guard A.J. Hoggard, who had 20 points and six assists. "I think our bigs did a good job of making it tough on him at times in both games, but I just think he figured us out. He just did a good job finishing around the rim."

Purdue has taken six straight over MSU at Mackey Arena; the Spartans' last victory there was Feb. 20, 2014. The Boilermakers have won 10 of the last 14 meetings overall and six of the last seven, including escaping East Lansing with a one-point win less than two weeks ago .

MSU gets an extended break for the first time in 2023 before heading to New York for a rematch with Rutgers on Saturday at Madison Square Garden (noon/Fox). Jaden Akins added 12 points as the only other Spartan in double figures, with Tyson Walker scoring nine on 4 of 11 shooting. Joey Hauser had just three points on 1 of 4 shooting but led MSU with five rebounds as Purdue finished with a 37-26 advantage on the boards.

Edey eating

For 13 minutes, the Spartans countered everything Purdue threw at them. And then Edey took control.

Izzo tried using double-teams against the Canadian center. He mixed his trio of Mady Sissoko, Jaxon Kohler and Carson Cooper. Nothing worked. With MSU down five, Edey went on an 8-0 run by himself over a two-minute stretch with a pair of hook shots over 6-11 Cooper, a layup over 6-9 Sissoko and a dunk off a wraparound pass from Caleb Furst. Edey added a pair of putbacks for 12 points in a 4:37 span as part of the Boilermakers’ 14-2 pull-away point.

"He's just taller than everybody else, and he's bigger than everybody else. So of course, it's gonna be a little bit easier for him," said Sissoko, who had four points and two rebounds with two turnovers and three fouls. "Anybody who's tall like that and can catch the ball so low (in the paint), of course he's gonna score. He's definitely special player, and things were definitely easy for him today."

Edey was 8 of 12 for 16 points with six rebounds and an assist in the first half.

"(The Spartans) play super physical," said Edey, who went 8-for-12 at the free-throw line and drew eight fouls in the game while suffering a split lip in the second half. "They kind of foul every time, and that kind of gets me going. I like playing physical, I like like those types of games. And it kind of showed. It just kind of got me going when they started fouling me and they started hacking me."

The Spartans, meanwhile, struggled with turnovers — three of their eight in the half on offensive fouls. Malik Hall, who had a charging call earlier, got called for his second on a screen that tripped Purdue’s Ethan Morton. MSU trailed 36-22 at that point and was trying to play for the final shot of the half.

Izzo railed at the refs to no avail, then went back at them after David Jenkins Jr.’s 3-pointer at the buzzer. Izzo drew a technical foul as the teams were walking back to the locker room, and Braden Smith’s two free throws made it a 42-22 Purdue lead before the start of the second half.

"That's really a seven-point swing — the 2 we don't get, the 3 they hit and the technical (free throws)," Izzo said. "So that's a seven-point swing, and Purdue is too good of a team to make seven-point swings."

Not enough

Edey scored Purdue’s first seven points of the second half, but the Spartans chipped away at the lead.

Hauser and Hall hit 3-pointers, then Hoggard started attacking the paint off the dribble. Hall’s layup with 11:45 cut MSU’s deficit in half, 53-43. But that was as close as the Spartans could get.

Edey went back to work inside, hitting four three throws sandwiched around a layup. He affected the game in other ways, assisting Morton for a layup and Jenkins for another 3-pointer while the big man was double-teamed. And he finished off MSU with two more layups that pushed Purdue’s cushion back to 19 points with 4:16 remaining.

"He's a huge human," Akins said of Edey. "I mean, he has skill, he's got touch, he made his free throws, and he's just a big, big body. So it's tough."

Hoggard had 13 points, five assists and three rebounds in the second half. That included 7 of 9 at the free-throw line by being more aggressive, drawing the first two fouls Edey committed against the Spartans this season. But Hoggard also missed a pair of free throws with the Spartans down 12, Edey scored a layup at the other end, then Akins threw a bad pass for a turnover that curtailed any remaining MSU momentum.

"We gotta learn from it," Hoggard said. "It's definitely OK to be frustrated about it right now. We're all competitors, we don't like to lose."

Contact Chris Solari: . Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari .

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Zach Edey sets career-high vs. Michigan State basketball — again; No. 1 Purdue wins, 77-61

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