No. 17 Purdue aims to stymie NJIT upset bid
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The schedule gets much more difficult next week when No. 17 Purdue plays at Louisville in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, but for now, the Boilermakers (4-1) are encouraged about their potential.
Purdue crushed previously unbeaten Auburn 96-71 on Wednesday night in the Cancun Challenge championship game after blowing past Utah State 85-64 in Tuesday's semifinals.
Combined with the final 7:08 of a Nov. 18 victory against Georgia State, the Boilermakers have outscored their three most recent opponents by 66 points in 87:08 of action.
Riding a three-game winning streak, Purdue will face the New Jersey Institute of Technology (3-3) on Saturday afternoon in Mackey Arena in one of the Cancun Challenge's on-campus games.
The Highlanders, who defeated Idaho State 71-67 in their four-team bracket in Cancun, will play a Purdue team that is averaging 86 points a game and is shooting 51.9 percent from the field, including 44.2 percent from 3-point range (50 of 113).
While sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan (18.2 points, 11.8 rebounds) and junior center Isaac Haas (18.2 points, 4.8 rebounds) are Purdue's go-to weapons, freshman guard Carsen Edwards and junior forward Vince Edwards — no relation — found their collective games in Cancun.
Against Auburn, Carsen Edwards scored a career-best 21 points, including 4 of 5 from beyond the arc, and Vince Edwards had 15 and now is 10 of 20 from 3-point range this season.
Vince Edwards is averaging 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds, and Carsen Edwards is averaging 10.2 points and 2.2 rebounds.
The pair helped the Boilermakers shoot 64.3 percent against Auburn (36 of 56), including 17 of 26 from beyond the arc, one make short of the school record 18 against Vermont on Nov. 15, 2015.
“It felt great,” Carsen Edwards said of his career best. “When I am open, I am going to shoot it, and when I feel like I can get by my man, I will do that. You have to pick open spots and just take them. I have been trying to take what the defense gives me.”
Until the Auburn game, Purdue leading returning scorer Vince Edwards had struggled to make shots and avoid turnovers.
“I just had to keep playing,” Vince Edwards said. “The coaches just said to go out and play and play hard. The second half against Auburn was huge for me. It was like the weight of the world was finally off my shoulders.
“Coach (Matt) Painter always says that good shots are going to fall. I was getting frustrated because I was getting good shots and missing those wide-open shots. My teammates were picking me up and staying with me.”
As well as the 6-foot-8 Swanigan and the 7-2 Haas are playing, Painter is thrilled with what he got from Edwards and Edwards in Mexico.
“We really got some momentum against Auburn through their efforts in the second half,” Painter said. “Vince made some shots, and obviously, Carsen was playing well. Things really got in sync for us in the second half of the Auburn game.”
NJIT is led by senior guard Damon Lynn (22.5 points), who tallied 24 or more points on three occasions this season, topped by 34 points against Utah State. Lynn leads the nation in career 3-pointers made (374) and ranks second in points (1,855).
The Highlanders also notched a stunning win on the big stage two seasons ago when they upset then-No. 17 Michigan 72-70 behind 20 points from Lynn.