PHILADELPHIA — Zach Edey scored 30 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and helped a furious 12-0 run to start the second half as No. 1 Purdue rallied to defeat Penn State 76-63 before a sold-out crowd at the Palestra on Sunday night.
Fletcher Loyer scored 17 points while Braden Smith added 15 to help the Boilermakers improve to 15-1 overall.
“We had some good looks at the basket and good looks from the perimeter,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “Fletcher got some really good looks in the second half after not getting good ones in the first.”
Despite Jalen Pickett’s 26 points, Penn State (11-5, 2-3 Big Ten) fell to 0-13 lifetime when facing the top-ranked team in the nation.
“We have to be better,” Penn State coach Micah Shrewsberry said.
Edey, a 7-foot-4 junior center, was a nightmare from the start for the Nittany Lions. He scored Purdue’s first six points of the game, drew double teams most of the night and was able to move the ball from the low block.
Pickett scored 18 of his points in the first half, ending the session with an up and under shovel past Edey’s outstretched arms, giving the Nittany Lions a 37-31 advantage at the halftime buzzer.
“They were hitting really tough shots, and they were knocking them down in the first half,” Edey said. “They hit those scoop shots, so we just kept playing how we wanted to play and things would get better.”
Purdue took the game over in the second half, shooting 66.7% from the floor (18 of 27). Edey scored 18 of his points in the second half while Loyer had 14 in the second half.
“We just kept sticking to what we wanted to do,” Edey said. “We have really good shooters, and they were going down for them. But we started to knock shots down, that opened up some things in the post and we took advantage of it after that.”
The Nittany Lions shot just 11 for 30 from the floor in the second half and 2 of 10 from beyond the 3-point arc. After the game, Shrewsberry expressed frustration about the officiating, which combined to award just three foul shots to the Lions and 10 overall.
“You get frustrated after a while because it’s not a one-time thing – it’s an every-time thing,” said Shrewsberry, who drew a second-half technical foul. “We shot three free throws. It was a really physical game and the game didn’t warrant 10 free throws. Both teams were fouling and if we want to be the best league in the country, then we need the officials to be the best in the country.
“This has nothing to do with Purdue, man. Purdue kicked our (butts) in the second half. That was all them. But I’m always going to fight for my guys.”
Purdue: Any team that will face the Boilermakers will have a matchup issue against Edey, who is dominating in the middle and able to move gracefully in the paint when needed.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions’ bid to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011 would have received a huge boost with a win over Purdue. They have two games against ranked teams in the next nine days – at home against No. 15 Indiana and a trip to No. 14 Wisconsin on Jan. 17 – that would go a long way to helping Penn State’s resume.
This was the third time that Penn State has brought a Big Ten game to the Palestra as a home team. The Nittany Lions average just under 6,000 people in nine home games at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College. They drew 8,722 on Sunday night even with competition on the Eagles-Giants game six miles down the road at Lincoln Financial Field.
Purdue: The Boilermakers host Nebraska on Friday night.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions will host No. 15 Indiana on Wednesday night.