No. 2 seed Purdue fought through a sluggish start against Cal State Fullerton and opened its 2018 NCAA Tournament run with a 74-48 win over the No. 15-seeded Titans on Friday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.
Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards and senior forward Vincent Edwards led the Boilermakers with 15 points each. Vincent Edwards added 7 rebounds.
Purdue led 30-21 at halftime after making its last three shots of the half, including 3-point shots by Vincent Edwards and Carsen Edwards.
The Boilermakers were just 7 of 27 from the field, including 1 of 9 on 3-point attempts, before the late run. They began the second half by making seven of their first nine shots, including 3 of 4 from behind the arc to blow open the game. The Boilermakers led by as many as 31 points in the second half.
WHY PURDUE WON: The Boilermakers defense never had an issue with the Titans, so while the offense took time to get going, it was afforded that luxury. Purdue held Cal State Fullerton to 36 percent shooting (18 for 50) from the field and 22 percent (4 for 18) on 3-point attempts. It won the rebound battle 44-34 and forced 17 turnovers, converting them into 19 points.
WHAT IT MEANS: Purdue moved on to the second round and pushed the Big Ten’s NCAA Tournament record to 3-0 with Michigan State still to play Friday night.
WHO STARRED: Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards was one player who had energy on offense in the first half while the rest of the team was struggling. He was 4 of 8 in the first half and scored 13 of Purdue’s 30 points in the first 20 minutes. His only points of the second half came on a pair of free throws, but he held the Boilermakers together when they needed him.
WHO STUMBLED: Senior center Isaac Haas has a size advantage on just about everyone, but it means nothing if he can’t convert. Haas made a dunk on his first attempt of the game but missed his other four shots in the first half, all from close range and without much resistance. He finished the game with 9 points and 10 rebounds after a more aggressive second half. He fell hard on his elbow and finished the game with it packed in ice. Purdue will need him to be effective if opponents are going to concentrate on taking away the Boilers’ perimeter attack.
WHO IS NEXT: Purdue (29-6) gets the winner of No. 7 Arkansas vs. No. 10 Butler on Sunday at Little Caesars Arena. Game time has yet to be determined.