No. 7 Purdue aims to keep early momentum rolling vs. Indiana State

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The reasons the Purdue Boilermakers entered the season as a top-10 team were on full display Tuesday night.

The No. 7-ranked Boilermakers attacked inside with their size and from the perimeter, and they showed off their depth as five players scored in double figures during their 96-67 opening night win over Bellarmine.

Purdue (1-0) will try to keep the early momentum going on Friday night when it hosts Indiana State at West Lafayette, Ind.

The Sycamores (1-0) also won their opener, coming back to win at Green Bay 81-77 on Tuesday night behind 18 points and six rebounds from Cooper Neese.

The difficulty level for Indiana State is about to kick up a few notches, however, against a Purdue team which dropped 16 3-pointers while outrebounding overmatched Bellarmine 42-22.

The Boilermakers won their ninth consecutive home opener behind 23 points from Sasha Stefanovic, who went 5-for-6 from 3-point range, and 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey’s 16 points and nine rebounds. Isaiah Thompson also had 15 points and shot 5-for-8 from 3-point range.

“We have a lot of credit across the board,” Stefanovic said. “If they are focusing in on Zach (Edey) and Trevion (Williams) in the post, we have to be able to knock down shots and execute our game plan. Our bigs are really good passing out of the post.”

Preseason All-American guard Jaden Ivey had 11 points but delivered two highlight-worthy dunks.

Purdue, which led by as many as 36 points, also gave several minutes to its bench players as Brandon Newman led the group with 14 points.

“A lot of our 3-pointers were rotation and moving the ball and their guys overplaying in the post,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “It was hard for us to simulate the way they play and the way they move the ball in practice. This was a great game for us to play because they are so different from everyone else. They have the same thing with our size.”

The Sycamores rallied from a 12-point deficit to win their first game under new coach Josh Schertz, who was hired this offseason after 13 years coaching Division-II Lincoln Memorial University where he led the Railsplitters to 11 seasons of 20 or more wins.

“We have competitive guys and that showed through the night,” Schertz said. “It wasn’t pretty. Green Bay outplayed us the first 30 minutes, but I was proud of the resilience, fortitude and grit. We stayed connected through adversity.”

Indiana State, coming off a 15-10 season and fourth-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference, saw a balanced scoring effort from its starters lead it to the opening-night victory. Kailex Stephens finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Cameron Henry and Xavier Bledson each had 15 points.

Stephens was forced to sit out last season with an Achilles injury.

“It feels good being back out there,” Stephens said. “I’m a competitive guy and I just wanted to go out and compete. The fans were going crazy and yelling and that’s the kind of thing I love. I want to get dirty and do everything I can to help us get a win.”

–Field Level Media

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