Zach Edey was just as advertised for No. 24 Purdue as the West Virginia Mountaineers fell to the Boilermakers 80-68 in the opening round of the Phil Knight Legacy on Thursday.
Standing at 7-foot-4, Edey was an imposing force for the victorious Boilermakers, leading the game with 24 points including 10 from the free throw line. The tallest player in Big Ten history also utilized his frame to grab 12 rebounds and reject a shot.
Edey led the Boilermakers on an 11-2 run to open the contest, scoring six of those points for Purdue in that stretch. He was a tough matchup for WVU’s Jimmy Bell Jr., who entered foul trouble early.
Fouls quickly became an issue for West Virginia. Tre Mitchell, one of the team’s top scorers, was forced to exit the game early in the second half when he picked up his fourth foul. Bell quickly joined Mitchell in the period as he battled Edey, as did Mohamed Wague and Kedrian Johnson.
That foul trouble seemed to hinder WVU’s defensive intensity as the Boilermakers took an 11-point lead into the halftime break after making over half of their shots in the first half.
Edey scored half of his points after halftime and grabbed eight of his boards after halftime as WVU’s lineup rotation was disrupted. That didn’t prevent the Mountaineers from nearly clawing back as they cut a 14-point deficit down to four with just over five minutes to go.
Still, those looming fouls came back to hurt West Virginia. Bell exited the game after his fifth foul with just under three minutes remaining. He was the only player to foul out, however Mitchell did not return to the court after he picked up his fourth whistle.
Mason Gillis added 14 points for the Boilermakers on just five shot attempts, missing only one field goal in the game. Braden Smith scored nine with six rebounds for Purdue.
The backcourt duo of Erik Stevenson and Joe Toussaint brought fire to the Mountaineer lineup, combining for 33 of the team’s points. Toussaint and Bell were WVU’s top rebounders with five each as the team posted a minus-4 in the rebounding margin. Johnson also added a double-figure game, chipping in 11 points.
West Virginia tips off at 9 p.m. ET on Friday on ESPNews for the first consolation round in the Phil Knight Legacy. The Mountaineers will face the loser between Portland State and No. 6 Gonzaga, which tips off at 12:30 a.m. ET.