WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Purdue followed coach Matt Painter’s instructions Wednesday night.
Edwards scored 19 points, Haas had 14 and Caleb Swanigan finished with 13 points and nine rebounds to help No. 24 Purdue pull away from Penn State 74-57 in a game that looked almost as impressive as the box score.
”When the ball goes in it looks better, but he (Edwards) was efficient, a little more aggressive,” Painter said. ”I thought Vince was really good. I thought Isaac was really good.”
Better than they’ve been in a while.
After scoring 11 points just once in the previous 12 games, Edwards matched that total by the end of the first half and nearly doubled in the second half.
Haas, who came off the bench for the fourth straight time, played big in the middle. He had 10 points in the first half, forcing the Nittany Lions (10-8, 1-4) to make defensive adjustments, which didn’t work either.
Instead, Swanigan and A.J. Hammons warmed up and Edwards continued playing well. The combination left struggling Penn State with no chance for a comeback.
Hammons finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, while Haas and Edwards were a combined 11 of 14 from the field.
”You’ve just got to take your shots in rhythm, take them when they’re there and just be ready to shoot,” Edwards said. ”That’s what I did.”
Penn State (10-8, 1-4) had even bigger, self-inflicted problems, too.
Leading scorer Brandon Taylor finished with 21 points but drew his third foul late in the first half and his fourth with 15:34 left to play. The only other Nittany Lion player to reach double figures was Donovan Jack with 12, not nearly enough to avoid a second straight loss.
”They played tough. They played physical. They played great defense. Hence, we were in foul trouble … a step slow,” coach Patrick Chambers said. ”That’s a very good team, though, especially when Edwards is playing like that.”
Purdue used a 10-3 spurt to take a 38-25 halftime lead, opened the second half on an 8-3 run to make it 46-28 and finally put it away with a quick flurry right after Taylor went to the bench.
Edwards and Dakota Mathias hit back-to-back 3-pointers, Haas drew a foul in the post and made two free throws and Edwards made another 3 to give Purdue an insurmountable 59-37 lead with 12:07 to go.
Hammons is the nation’s active leader in blocks and added to his total with two more Wednesday. That gives him 301 in his career, making him only the second player in school history with 300. The Boilermakers’ career leader is Joe Barry Carroll (349), who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1980 NBA draft.
ON THE ROAD
Trips outside Happy Valley have been rather unpleasant experiences recently for Penn State – especially when they play at Mackey Arena. The Nittany Lions have lost nine straight in West Lafayette, Indiana, since a victory Feb. 18, 2006.
ON THE REBOUND
After winning its first 11 games, Purdue climbed into the Top 10. Since then, it’s been more of a struggle. The Boilermakers had lost two of their last three coming into Wednesday, but the re-emergence of major contributions from Haas and Edwards is a promising sign that the balanced Boilers could be back in sync.
Penn State: Penn State is 2-5 on the road this season with its only wins coming Dec. 2 at Boston College in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and at Drexel on Dec. 19. … The Nittany Lions committed 12 turnovers and had only five offensive rebounds.
Purdue: Has its best record after 18 games since 1993-94 and its fifth straight 3-2 start in Big Ten play. … Purdue kept its 15th opponent below its season scoring average and had a 42-25 rebounding edge. … The Boilermakers are the only Division I team that has outrebounded every opponent this season.
Penn State visits Northwestern on Saturday.
Purdue visits Rutgers on Monday.