Purdue will cap a two-game road set when it travels to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota on Thursday night.
The third-ranked Boilermakers (17-1, 6-1 Big Ten) continue to lead the conference after another nail-biting victory, this time on Monday night at Michigan State.
Again, it was Zach Edey to the rescue for Purdue in the closing seconds.
After Michigan State’s Tyson Walker put the Spartans ahead 62-61 with 10.8 seconds left, Fletcher Loyer worked the ball inside to Edey, who spun and leaned in for a layup to give Purdue the winning bucket with 2.2 seconds to play.
Edey finished with a career-high 32 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.
“For us, it’s really not a decision,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said of the end-game strategy. “If you’re going to allow (Edey) to get it, then we’re going to go to him. He missed a lot of shots (Monday) that he normally makes, but obviously, he’s still a tough cover.”
It was Purdue’s fourth conference game decided by three points or less.
The contest against Minnesota, however, will be a rematch of the Boilermakers’ most lopsided conference win to date.
Edey dominated in Purdue’s 89-70 home win over the Golden Gophers on Dec. 4, logging 31 points and a career-high 22 rebounds.
Against Michigan State, the 7-foot-4 junior made 13 of 26 shots from the floor, but he believes he could have played better.
“I felt like a lot of shots I was missing were routine hooks for me,” Edey said. “I just kept going back to them, and eventually they started falling in the second half. I probably could’ve had 40 if my routine hooks were going down.”
Minnesota a (7-9, 1-5 Big Ten) was unable to build off its upset at Ohio State last Thursday, falling 78-60 against visiting Illinois on Monday night.
Minnesota came away feeling as if it had squandered an opportunity against the Fighting Illini, as the Golden Gophers were outscored 37-11 over a stretch of 14 1/2 minutes in the second half.
Dawson Garcia scored 17 points and Ta’Lon Cooper 16, but the Golden Gophers shot just 36.2 percent from the field and 23.1 percent (3 of 13) from 3-point range. Minnesota also finished just 15 of 25 from the free-throw line.
“(The Fighting Illini) are arguably the most talented team in the league,” Minnesota coach Ben Johnson said after the game. “But we got to do our job and our part better, especially when you’re playing well. To have that lull in the second half, that’s what is disappointing.”
Illinois also finished with a 50-29 rebounding advantage, which doesn’t bode well for Minnesota with Purdue looming. The Boilermakers produced a 41-21 edge on the boards in the first meeting between the teams, led by Edey’s career-best tally.
Minnesota also was outscored 54-28 in the paint by Illinois, which attacked the basket consistently and effectively.
“We guarded their stuff pretty good in the first half, and at halftime, they just said, ‘We are going to run our stuff and we are going to run it harder and run it better. We are going to attack more,'” Johnson said. “(My team) just didn’t meet their challenge.”
–Field Level Media