No. 1 Purdue will look to continue its roll through the Big Ten Conference on Wednesday night when it hosts Penn State at West Lafayette, Ind.
Purdue was voted unanimously as the top-ranked team in the nation this week in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The Boilermakers (21-1, 10-1 Big Ten) will look to extend their eight-game winning streak when they meet the Nittany Lions (14-7, 5-5), who have gone 3-4 over their past seven games.
It is the sixth week Purdue has been ranked No. 1 this season and a major reason is the play of Zach Edey, who is coming off another career-best performance against Michigan State in Sunday’s 77-61 win at home.
Edey finished with a career-high 38 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and had three steals and three assists.
“You have to show some discipline and not listen to what people say because success messes with you more than failure,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “Failure always just corrects you.”
Edey delivered a similarly versatile and dominant performance the first time Purdue faced Penn State, resulting in a 76-63 victory on Jan. 8 at The Palestra in Philadelphia. Edey finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds as well as three assists and three blocks in that game.
“He’s really improved on the defensive end,” Painter said. “I think any time people stereotypically evaluate him, they’re like, ‘Well, he stinks in ball screen defense.’ And he used to stink in ball screen defense. He doesn’t anymore.”
Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry saw his team put together its own impressive defensive effort on Sunday during its largest win ever against Michigan, 83-61 at home.
The Nittany Lions held Michigan to only 41 points over the first 30-plus minutes of the game and led by as many as 32 points in the second half. Shrewsberry credited assistant coach Mike Farrelly after the game for the team’s execution on the defensive end of the floor.
“I thought coach Farrelly did a great job of … getting us ready for what they want to do, how they wanted to run the different actions that they did to get (Michigan’s) Hunter (Dickinson) the ball,” Shrewsberry said after his team held Dickinson to a season-low six points.
“People have just been force-feeding the ball in the paint to us. There comes a time where you’ve got to take a stand and you’ve got to do something different so I thought we needed to be a little more aggressive today.”
Shrewsberry recently ripped his team for being too soft on defense before the performance against Michigan.
“I challenged them after that game at Rutgers,” Shrewsberry said. “But that’s what families do. They get on each other, they challenge each other, they fight, they do what they need to do, but they’re still family.”
Penn State will need another outstanding effort to try and slow down Edey and Purdue’s guards.
Jalen Pickett continues to pace the Nittany Lions with 17.6 points per game as well as averages of 8.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists. Pickett was one of the bright spots in Penn State’s previous encounter with Purdue, nearly recording a triple-double with 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
–Field Level Media