No. 3 Purdue tinkers with lineup, faces Incarnate Word

Sports

After an upset loss at Rutgers and an overtime escape at North Carolina State that ended Purdue’s first stay at No. 1, the Boilermakers got what apparently was a much-needed week off.

They were back in the early-season form that had many observers swooning over them in the final Crossroads Classic on Saturday, routing Butler 77-48 to improve to 10-1.

Purdue will aim to enter its Christmas break on a good note when it hosts Incarnate Word on Monday night in West Lafayette, Ind.

Purdue coach Matt Painter tinkered with things a bit during the team’s idle time for final exams. He moved Trevion Williams, the team’s best player last season, back into the starting lineup and brought 7-foot-4 Zach Edey off the bench.

The lineup change had its desired effect. Williams notched 10 points and six rebounds in his first start of the season, while Edey delivered 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. Teamed with six 3-pointers and 22 points from Jaden Ivey, it was too much for the Bulldogs.

“We’ve got 10 guys that can start for us, but they want to finish more than anything,” Painter said. “Zach has had some struggles starting the game. The way Trevion played (against) North Carolina State, that factor is the reason for the decision. Trevion’s ability to pass can maybe help a couple of those guys starting.”

The Boilermakers were just as impressive defensively. They limited Butler to 32.2 percent shooting from the field and a dismal 4 of 28 on 3-pointers. Purdue also earned a 42-27 advantage on the boards.

“Last week, I didn’t think we were able to bring a physical presence on defense,” Ivey said. “I feel like today we brought it and we’re going to need that going into those Big Ten games.”

Incarnate Word likely will be in way over its head in Monday’s game. The Cardinals are 2-9 this season after absorbing an 85-55 loss Thursday at Rice. But they at least have a coach who knows what it’s like to step on the Mackey Arena floor.

Carson Cunningham played the last three seasons of his college career for Gene Keady at Purdue, finishing with 886 points and 318 assists. Cunningham is in his fourth season at Incarnate Word.

This season’s rough start includes losses at top-ranked Baylor and against Texas Tech. This trip to Purdue will be followed after Christmas by one to No. 17 Texas.

“The Big Ten’s fiercest home floor awaits us,” Cunningham said.

The Cardinals welcomed 10 new players to their program this season and have endured predictable issues. Ten players have drawn at least two starts, but none have started all 11 games.

Four players are averaging double figures, led by Josh Morgan at 14.3 points a game.

This will be the programs’ second meeting. The Boilermakers cruised to a 96-61 victory six years ago in the first matchup.

–Field Level Media

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