Phil Knight Legacy: Purdue basketball takes down West Virginia with late push

PORTLAND, Oregon – Purdue led Thursday night’s Thanksgiving matchup against West Virginia from start to finish but the Mountaineers never went away.

That was until the 24th-ranked Boilermakers delivered the knockout punch.

West Virginia closed with four points with 5:30 to play but Purdue answered with eight straight points to post an 80-67 victory in the Phil Knight Legacy at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Braden Smith’s 3-pointer and the freshman followed with a big hustle play and Mason Gillis contributed three points to finally create separation. Zach Edey led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds but the play of Smith, Gillis and Ethan Morton put the Boilermakers over the top.

How it happened: Whatever script the Boilermakers put together worked to perfection. Purdue sprinted to a 9-0 lead in the first three minutes, pounding the ball inside to Zach Edey and establishing the 7-foot-4 junior. The Mountaineers climbed with four, but the Boilermakers regained control by going to the line, including Edey hitting four straight and the big man dunked off a pass from Ethan Morton. The advantage stayed within the 8-13 points range until West Virginia scored five straight points before halftime, pulling within 40-32 but Mason Gills drained a 3-pointer from the corner – from a Morton baseline pass – increasing the margin to 43-32 at halftime. West Virginia brought more pressure and ramped up the defensive intensity, forcing more turnovers in the second half but Purdue was able to weather the run. Brandon Newman’s 3-pointer stopped a short Mountaineer run and Trey Kaufman-Renn’s layup pushed the advantage to 57-43 with 11:43 to play.

Why it happened: Purdue started Thursday’s game shooting 28% from 3-point range during its first three games but made 5 of 11 in the first half, including a pair of from Gillis. David Jenkins, Fletcher Loyer and Brandon Newman also hit 3-pointers. While the Boilermakers found their shooting touch, the Mountaineers made just 2 of 15 from beyond the arc in the first half. Purdue’s frontline of Edey, Gillis, Caleb Furst and Kaufman-Renn also controlled the inside.

What it means: The Boilermakers will likely face No. 6 Gonzaga in Friday night’s semifinals at 11:30 p.m.. The Bulldogs played Portland State to close out quarterfinal action. Duke and Xavier also won to advance to Friday’s semifinals. Purdue will play in the Moda Center on Friday.

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