No. 1 Purdue will look to finish the 2022 portion of its season undefeated when it hosts Florida A&M on Thursday night in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Boilermakers (12-0) are in the top spot in the AP poll for the third consecutive week and face the Rattlers (2-8) in the final nonconference game for both teams.
Purdue will play only its second home game as the nation’s No. 1 team after a 74-53 win over visiting New Orleans last Wednesday.
The Boilermakers are the first Big Ten program since Indiana during the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons to hold a No. 1 ranking in two consecutive seasons.
“We get slighted at times,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We don’t get covered like other people, and I love it because I don’t like the attention myself. I couldn’t care less. But from a program standpoint, it’s pretty cool.”
Purdue has remained consistent in recent weeks led by Zach Edey, who continues to have an All-American season at both ends of the floor.
Edey is averaging 22.6 points per game and is the main reason the Boilermakers lead the nation in rebounding margin at plus-12 per game. Edey leads the nation individually with 13.9 rebounds per game.
But the Boilermakers were forced to go without Edey, who was dealing with an illness in their game against New Orleans. Trey Kaufman-Renn picked up the slack with 24 points in 26 minutes.
“We’ve played him less minutes in some games that we’ve won pretty convincingly,” Painter said. “But for the most part, when he’s been out there, he’s done a great job with (not getting into foul trouble), so we haven’t had to do it. This was a great game, great experience.”
The Rattlers, who are wrapping up a three-game road trip, haven’t had much success in terms of wins and losses with only one victory against a Division I opponent (Albany State).
But Florida A&M continues to pick up valuable experience as it will face its third ranked opponent this season and eighth Power Five conference foe.
Florida A&M is coming off an 88-68 loss at Kentucky in its first trip to famed Rupp Arena. Before the Wildcats pulled away, they had to hold off a resilient performance from the Rattlers, who used a 14-0 run to cut Kentucky’s second-half lead to 69-62.
“To just get back into the game in a situation that could have resulted in a blowout, to get it to 10 at the half and then eventually got it to seven a couple of times in the second half, I felt really good about the way we played,” Florida A&M coach Robert McCullum said.
“Kentucky is bigger and a more experienced team, but I’m pleased with the way our guys fought and got back into the game.”
Florida A&M shot 52 percent overall and hit 9 of 16 3-pointers while also going 7 of 8 from the free-throw line.
Jaylen Bates led Florida A&M with 21 points and Dimingus Stevens had 13 points off the bench.
“This is clearly the best that we’ve shot it all year, and we thought we were capable of shooting it better than we have,” McCullum said.
–Field Level Media