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March Madness: Purdue overwhelms Utah State for Sweet 16 bid behind commanding Zach Edey effort

Zach Edey dominated. His supporting cast hit shots. Purdue's defense flustered Utah State into rushed possessions.

It added up to a commanding 106-67 win for the Boilermakers over Utah State Sunday anchored by another monster game from Purdue's presumptive two-time National Player of the Year. After last year's stunning first-round loss to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, Purdue is headed to the Sweet 16 behind a pair of dominant NCAA tournament wins.

As usual with Purdue, Sunday's performance started with Edey. He pulled down his 10th rebound to secure a double-double with more than five minutes remaining in the first half. He had 21 points and 11 rebounds at halftime. When it was done, he'd tallied 23 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals while sitting most of the second half of the blowout win. He hit 8 of 11 field goals and 7 of 8 shots from the line.

Zach Edey was dominant in leading Purdue to the Sweet 16. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Zach Edey was dominant in leading Purdue to the Sweet 16. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) (Andy Lyons via Getty Images)

Aggies keep things close early

The Aggies managed to contain Edey in the game's opening moments. Forward Trey Kaufman-Renn scored Purdue's first eight points as he repeatedly found the ball in his hands while Utah State's defense honed in on Edey.

But it was just a matter of time before Edey broke through. He scored his first bucket on an alley-oop dunk to take a 10-8 lead, and the floodgates opened.

For a while, the Aggies kept things close. Senior guard Ian Martinez scored 11 straight Utah State points as the Aggies opened a 17-15 lead. But as Edey took over, Purdue took control. Utah State's front line had no answer for the 7-foot-4 center.

Purdue takes over with 16-0 run

The Boilermakers turned a 24-23 deficit into a 39-24 lead with a 16-0 run over a 5:10 span late in the first half. By halftime, Purdue led, 49-33. It opened the second half on a 7-0 run, and the game was over.

Edey set the tone on both sides of the court. He ran in transition to pick up fast-break buckets. When he wasn't scoring over overwhelmed defenders in the post, he was passing out of double- and triple-teams to find open teammates for quality shots.

Flustered Aggies defenders repeatedly fouled him. On defense, Edey rebounded missed Utah State shots that he altered with his 7-10 wingspan.

Dominance, by the numbers

Edey wasn't the only Purdue player to give the Aggies fits. Kaufman-Renn finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal while shooting 8 of 13 from the floor. Sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer set up the offense and attacked from the perimeter, tallying 15 points and six assists while shooting 5 of 9 from the field.

The Boilermakers shot 55.9% from the field and 47.8% (11 of 23) from 3-point distance. They dominated the glass with a 49-26 rebounding edge. They limited the Aggies to a 35.9% effort from the field. It was a dominant effort from top to bottom against a Utah State team that won the Mountain West regular season and rolled to an 88-72 win over No. 9 seed TCU in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

It added up to another overwhelming win after Purdue rolled to a 78-50 victory over Grambling State in Friday's opening round. In that game, Edey posted 31 points, 20 rebounds and three blocks.

Things will get considerably tougher in the Sweet 16 next week against a Gonzaga team that just dominated fourth-seeded Kansas to advance to the tournament's second weekend. But for now, Purdue's doing everything it needs to do to move past the historic disappointment of last year's NCAA tournament loss.