Previewing your College Hoops weekend

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UPSET SPECIAL

Sat. 4:00 pm: UNLV @ No. 9 BYU: You want to get a feel for how good Jimmer Fredette has been this season? His past two games, he’s scored 32 points and 26 points against New Mexico and Wyoming, respectively, and people are talking about the fact that he has played poorly. Yes, he hasn’t been the Jimmer that we witnessed against San Diego State or in the first meeting with UNLV, but scoring 58 points over the course of two games is hardly playing poorly.

The key to beating BYU isn’t strictly shutting down Jimmer. Yes, when going against a player capable of scoring 40, keeping him in check is going to be one of the priorities of every game plan. But just as important will be keeping Jackson Emery and Brandon Davies in check. Emery is a lights out shooter and creates point with his ability to anticipate and jump a passing lane, but there isn’t much else to his game. Davies is one of the must underrated big men in the country. He’s got awkward looking post moves, but awkward-looking and ineffective are two completely different things.

In the first matchup, UNLV failed to do all of the above. Jimmer had 39 points, Emery had 22 and a number of big jumpers to keep put an end to the surges that UNLV made, and Brandon Davies went for 15 points and 10 boards, outplaying the Rebel’s big men. In the end, it lead to an 89-77 win for the Cougars. And that game was in Vegas.

This one is in the Marriott Center, where BYU is notoriously difficult to beat. But the Rebels come in hot, having won their last three games. Tre’Von Willis is back from injury, Chace Stanback looks like he is rounding back into form, and Quintrell Thomas is playing the best basketball of his career. UNLV needs this win badly.

UPSET ALERT

Sat. 1:00 pm: No. 24 Illinois @ Northwestern: I think I’ve picked Northwestern to be an upset in every game against a team at the top of the Big Ten. I’ve been wrong every time. No sense in stopping now. I know that the Illini won the first matchup by 25 points, but I still like how the Wildcats matchup with them. Neither team really has a big, burly post presence and both teams have a number of talented perimeter players. This game will come down to who is hitting their jumpers. When Northwestern is hot, they have a chance against anybody.

Sat. 1:30 pm: South Carolina @ No. 24 Vanderbilt: The Gamecocks are a pesky team. There isn’t a ton of talent on their roster, but freshman point guard Bruce Ellington and senior forward Sam Muldrow are both having solid seasons. Vanderbilt is a bit of a question mark as well. They have a nice ranking, but if you look at what they have actually accomplished this season, it really isn’t all that impressive. And that includes their overtime loss to South Carolina earlier this year, a game in which Muldrow had a triple double (16 points, 14 boards, 10 blocks) and Ellington had 22 points and caught fire late in the game.

Sat. 2:00 pm: Baylor @ No. 16 Texas A&M: I am not all that impressed with Texas A&M. They can’t score and they aren’t great defensively. They are a team that benefited from an easy early schedule and a couple of close, home wins. I’m not impressed with Baylor, either. They don’t have a point guard and their defense and rebounding is bad for a team with their size and athleticism. That said, the Bears really need this win if they are going to have any shot of making the NCAA Tournament. They have no wins of note and have just one road win, at Texas Tech. There is talent on that roster, however, and I think there is a chance the Bears can bounce back from their ugly loss to Oklahoma.

Sat. 4:00 pm: No. 2 Kansas @ Nebraska: The Cornhuskers, believe it or not, are quite competitive this season. They’ve won all three of their Big XII home games and they’ve been very competitive on the road, including a five point loss in the Phog in January. They do it with size, defense, and rebounding while controlling the pace. Against Kansas, they are going to have to control the Morrii. The Huskers did a solid job of it in their first meeting, holding the twins to a combined 23 points and 18 boards. The problem was that they shot 36.1% from the floor. If they get that same defensive effort and knock down a couple more shots, Nebraska could remain undefeated in the Big XII at home.

BEST MATCHUPS

Sat. 12:00 pm: West Virginia @ No. 12 Villanova: With everything that has gone on in the West Virginia program this season — a disintegrating freshmen class, the suspensions of Casey Mitchell, Danny Jennings leaving the bench during a game — would you be surprised if I were to tell you that the Mountaineers are tied for second in the Big East at 6-3? One of the three teams they are tied with is Villanova, which adds some importance to an already intriguing game. Villanova’s got a loaded back court, but their question marks are on the front line, which is where the ‘Eers excel.

Sat. 1:00 pm: St. John’s @ UCLA: Obviously, this game is interesting because of Steve Lavin’s return to LA, where he coached the Bruins for seven years. But this is more than just an interesting coaching storyline. Both the Johnnies and the Bruins have their sights set on an NCAA Tournament bid this season. There are two matchups that I will be intrigued to watch — Reeves Nelson vs. Justin Brownlee and DJ Kennedy vs. Tyler Honeycutt.

Sat. 2:00 pm: Old Dominion @ George Mason: This will end up being one of the most important games in the CAA this season. Mason, after a slow start to conference play, as won eight straight games to move into a first place tie in the league and to plant themselves firmly on the bubble. ODU, on the other hand, sits a game behind Mason and VCU in the standings. But they do own a win over the Patriots.

Sat. 9:00 pm: No. 11 Kentucky @ No. 23 Florida: This is the time for the Wildcats to prove themselves. Kentucky has struggled away from home all season long, including going 0-3 in SEC play. Their issue has been execution and leadership, especially down the stretch in close games. Florida, on the other hand, is currently leading the SEC East by a game in the loss column. With a win, the Wildcats close that gap. And not only do they add to their resume, they build up their confidence. UK has as much talent as just about anyone in the country, but that talent goes to waste when you can’t execute.

Sun. 1:00 pm: Michigan State @ No. 18 Wisconsin: Its awkward to still put Michigan State into a list regarding the best matchups, but until the Spartans are dead in the water — and not just in the midst of drowning — they deserve that much respect. The only reason that Michigan State isn’t dead are the three, overtime wins they picked up in the past few weeks. One of those wins came against Wisconsin in East Lansing. I’m just saying.

Sun. 2:00 pm: No. 1 Ohio State @ No. 20 Minnesota: If Al Nolen wasn’t injured, I would say that I really like this matchup for the Golden Gophers. They have the size and physicality to matchup with Sullinger inside. Trevor Mbakwe is a beast while Ralph Sampson and Colton Iverson are both capable Big Ten big men. But I have trouble seeing Minnesota being able to score on a very good Ohio State defense without Nolen.

Sun. 2:00 pm: Florida State @ North Carolina: So here we have it folks. The battle for second place in the SEC. As you should be well aware of, the Seminoles are easily one of the best defensive teams in the country. They have size, they are strong and they are physical. UNC’s defense isn’t too poor, either, and with their offense starting to click, the Heels all of a sudden have a reminiscent look about them. UNC is tied for first in the ACC at 6-1, while FSU is a game back in the loss column.

BEST STORYLINES

Friday

  • 7:00 pm: Harvard @ Princeton: Both the Crimson and the Tigers head into this game undefeated in league play.
  • 9:00 pm: Iona @ Fairfield: The best team in the MAAC (Fairfield) takes on the MAAC’s best player (Mike Glover).

Saturday

  • 11:00 am: St. Louis @ Xavier: The Musketeers are coming off of their first loss in Atlantic 10 play … at Charlotte?
  • 12:00 pm: Providence @ No. 15 Georgetown: The Hoyas have bounced back nicely from their 1-4 start in Big East play. They should be able to keep their five game winning streak alive against Providence.
  • 12:00 pm: VCU @ James Madison: Both of these teams are coming off of bad losses in conference play. The Rams lost to Northeastern, while the Dukes fell to William & Mary at home.
  • 12:00 pm: Butler @ Cleveland State: This game would be a lot more intriguing if Butler wasn’t, you know, bad this year.
  • 1:00 pm: Wake Forest @ Maryland; Clemson @ Georgia Tech; Virginia Tech @ Boston College: I mean, someone has to emerge from the middle of the ACC, right? Anyone?
  • 1:00 pm: Northern Iowa @ Drake: The Panthers are streaking right now, but it will be interesting to see what happens to this team without Lucas O’Rear.
  • 1:00 pm: Richmond @ Fordham: The matchup between Justin Harper and Chris
    Gaston will be a fun one to watch, especially for NBA scouts.
  • 2:00 pm: No. 17 Syracuse @ South Florida: The Orange bounced back from their four game losing streak with a nice win at UConn. Can they keep this new streak alive?
  • 2:00 pm: Rhode Island @ Temple: Talk about a contrast of styles — Temple plays fundamental, half court defense. URI presses and shoots a ton of threes.
  • 3:05 pm: Indiana State @ Missouri State: Both the Bears and the Sycamores have been slumping a bit the past two weeks.
  • 4:00 pm: No. 19 Washington @ Oregon: The Huskies lost at Oregon State on Thursday. Washington State was blown out at Oregon the same night. Please, someone from the state of Washington salvage that trip.
  • 4:00 pm: Memphis @ Gonzaga: Two of the country’s best non-BCS programs. Also two of the country’s most disappointing teams this season.
  • 4:00 pm: Furman @ Charleston: The Cougars thumped Wofford on Thursday night. Can they turn around and beat the third contender in the SoCon’s south division?
  • 4:30 pm: Quinnipiac @ Long Island: These two teams could very well be the best two teams in the NEC.
  • 5:00 pm: Alabama @ Tennessee: The Vols have rebounded nicely from their midseason slump. Lets see how the handle the SEC leader. That’s right, Alabama leads the SEC in February. Who saw that coming?
  • 6:00 pm: Cincinnati @ No. 4 Pitt: The Bearcats matchup pretty well with Pitt personnel-wise. But in terms of talent, discipline, and execution, its no contest.
  • 6:00 pm: NC State @ No. 5 Duke: NC State beat Duke a little more than a year ago. Duke’s lost three ACC games since then. NC State has won only eight.
  • No. 7 UConn @ Seton Hall: Kemba Walker is struggling right now. He hasn’t shot well in the last five games, and during UConn’s losing streak he is shooting 10-37 from the floor, 3-16 from three, and is averaging only 14.0 ppg.
  • 7:30 pm: Colorado @ No. 15 Missouri: The Buffaloes beat Missouri in their first meeting. That one was in Colorado. Can Mizzou return the favor? The Tigers really could use the win.
  • 8:00 pm: DePaul @ No. 13 Louisville: The Cardinals will be without Preston Knowles on Saturday. This team has been as beat-up as anyone this season.
  • 8:00 pm: No. 22 Arizona @ Cal: Congratulations, Wildcats. You are now all alone in first place in the Pac-10.
  • 9:00 pm: Texas Tech @ No. 2 Texas: The Red Raiders had won three in a row … before getting obliterated by Kansas.
  • 9:00 pm: Boise State @ No. 21 Utah State: What will Wild Bill be wearing on Saturday?
  • 9:00 pm: Murray State @ Austin Peay; Morehead State @ Tennessee Tech; UT-Martin @ Tennessee State: All five of the OVC’s contenders will be playing in the same time slot on Saturday. That’s pretty cool.
  • 10:30 pm: TCU @ No. 6 SDSU: The Aztecs get an MWC bottom-feeder at home? That’s a must-win. Or a can’t-lose.

Sunday

  • 12:00 pm: Michigan @ Penn State: The battle of the spoilers or the battle of the not-so-good-at-football football schools.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Ohio State tumbles

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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It was a rough week for Ohio State, which lost all three of its games and tumbled down the AP Top 25 as a result.

The previously unbeaten Buckeyes fell from second to 10th in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll released Monday after losing to Iowa and Indiana, two top 10 teams, as well as Purdue. Ohio State fell two games back in the Big Ten Conference standings.

South Carolina remained No. 1 for the 32nd consecutive week. The Gamecocks, who were again a unanimous choice from the 28-member national media panel, have the fourth-longest streak ever atop the poll. Only UConn (51 and 34 weeks) and Louisiana Tech (36) have had longer runs at No. 1.

Stanford moved back up to No. 2 in the poll and the Cardinal were followed by LSU, Indiana and UConn in the top five. LSU is the only other undefeated team in women’s basketball besides South Carolina, which visits UConn for a top-five showdown on Sunday.

Iowa jumped out four spots to sixth with Utah, Maryland and Notre Dame coming in ahead of Ohio State. The Hawkeyes started the season No. 4 in the poll.

The Fighting Irish split a pair of games last week against ranked opponents, routing Florida State before falling to N.C. State.

“There’s a lot of parity right now, which is great, great for the game,” Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “The game is growing, which is what you want. But yeah, I mean, every night, especially the ACC, the ACC is the strongest league and, you know, we have just a tough stretch every night.”

One week after falling out of the rankings, Texas re-entered the poll at No. 24. The Longhorns routed then-No. 14 Oklahoma and Oklahoma State last week. South Florida also came in at No. 25. Colorado and Illinois fell out of the poll.

RISING BULLS

No. 25 South Florida continued its streak of being ranked for at least one week every season since the Bulls entered the poll for the first time in 2015.

“For us not being in a so-called football five conference, that’s a huge accomplishment,” South Florida coach Jose Fernandez said. His team has won 10 consecutive games and has 20 victories this season. The team’s four losses have all come against ranked opponents (Michigan, Villanova, Ohio State and N.C. State).

“This group has been fun to coach. We always play a great non(equals)conference schedule,” Fernandez said. “We won on the road at Texas, beat Alabama, beat Arkansas. We challenged ourselves in November and December.”

RECORD PERFORMANCES

Cameron Brink carried Stanford to a win over Oregon with a triple-double that included 10 blocks. It was the first triple-double in NCAA Division I women’s basketball featuring double-digit blocks since Tamari Key did it for Tennessee in an overtime win against Texas on Nov. 21, 2021.

No. 20 Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson set the all-time NCAA women’s career record for 3-pointers when she hit her 498th in a loss to Iowa State on Saturday. Robertson has 503 entering this week. The all-time NCAA record, men or women, is held by Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy, who has 534 and counting.

Purdue a unanimous No. 1 in AP Top 25; Vols up to No. 2

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Purdue became this season’s first unanimous No. 1 team in the AP Top 25 men’s college basketball poll Monday after wins over Michigan and Michigan State last week as chaos ensued behind the Boilermakers among other ranked teams.

More than half of Top 25 teams lost, including second-ranked Alabama, which was routed by Oklahoma in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. That allowed Purdue to grab the remaining No. 1 votes and tighten its grip atop the poll, while Tennessee jumped two spots to second and Houston held onto third in voting by 62 national media members.

The Boilermakers (21-1) have won eight straight since a one-point loss to Rutgers on Jan. 2.

“We’re the No. 1 team in the country because of how unselfish we are as a team,” Purdue guard David Jenkins Jr. said. “We had a lot of people doubting us in the beginning because, you know, we may not be the most talented team or whatever, but we’re close on the court and off the court and it’s really translating to how we’re winning.”

The Volunteers climbed to their highest perch since reaching No. 1 for four weeks during the 2018-19 season. They routed Georgia before becoming one of three SEC teams to beat Big 12 opponents on Saturday, knocking off No. 10 Texas 82-71 for their fifth consecutive win over a top-10 team.

Perhaps this is the year Rick Barnes finally gets the Vols through the Sweet 16 for the first time as their coach.

“We have a chance to be as good as we want to be,” he said. “It’s up to one thing: Are we tough enough to embrace the daily grind? And not worry about going to the Final Four or worry about going to the NCAA Tournament, but can we build a team that can be successful that time of year? It starts with truly embracing the grind.”

The Crimson Tide dropped to fourth after the blowout loss to the Sooners, when Alabama fell behind by 17 at halftime in an eventual 93-69 defeat. The Tide edged fifth-ranked Arizona by just two points in this week’s poll.

“It doesn’t have any effect on SEC standings, which is the only good thing to come out of this,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said of the lopsided loss. “Hopefully we’ll recover from a loss out of conference, but you know, it’s not good.”

Virginia was sixth and Kansas State, which rebounded from a narrow loss at No. 13 Iowa State by pummeling Florida on Saturday, fell two spots to seventh; the Wildcats face eighth-ranked Kansas in a top-10 showdown Tuesday night.

UCLA dropped to ninth after losing to Southern California and Texas rounded out the top 10.

Baylor continued its climb from unranked to No. 11 following wins over the Jayhawks and Arkansas. The Bears were followed by Gonzaga, Iowa State, Marquette and league rival TCU – the sixth Big 12 team in the top 15.

Xavier, Providence, Saint Mary’s, Florida Atlantic and Clemson completed the top 20, while poll returners Indiana and San Diego State joined Miami, UConn and Auburn in rounding out the Top 25.

RISING AND FALLING

The No. 11 Bears and No. 17 Providence made the biggest leaps, each climbing six spots from last week.

“I think our defense is better. Our turnovers are better. When you don’t give people easy transition baskets, now its five-on-five in the half court,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew, whose team had a date with the Longhorns on Monday night.

“We execute at a pretty high rate,” Drew said. “It really comes down to taking care of the ball, making sure we get shots up and when you don’t make them, you’ve got to get rebounds. And our guys are buying into that.”

Auburn took the biggest hit of those still in the poll, dropping 10 places after losses to unranked Texas A&M and West Virginia.

IN AND OUT

The Hoosiers returned to the poll at No. 21 and the Aztecs rejoined it right behind them. They took the place of Charleston, which fell out from No. 18 after losing to Hofstra, and New Mexico, which lost to Nevada in double overtime last week.

CONFERENCE CALL

The Big 12’s dominance of the SEC in the final year of their head-to-head challenge was rewarded in the poll, where the league led the way with six ranked teams and all of them in the top 15. The Big East has four teams in the poll but none higher than No. 14 Marquette, while the SEC and ACC have three teams apiece.

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.