Edey delivers opening message with 30-21 line

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INDIANAPOLIS — Don’t be fooled by the nonchalance after the fact.

On the surface, Purdue’s 78-50 win over Grambling was standard business Friday night. The top-seeded Boilermakers steamrolled the 16-seed Tigers and made good on their status as heavy favorites.

Just a year ago, Purdue became the second No. 1 seed ever to lose to a 16-seed when it fell to Fairleigh Dickinson. On Thursday, Purdue star Zach Edey said a lot of the team’s players had the stunning upset in the back of their minds.

Edey erased any notion of that happening again. He had 30 points and 21 rebounds against the Tigers.

After the win, he said he wanted to send a message to his teammates — and others who were also thinking about that loss a year ago — about this year’s group.

“Tried to play as hard as I can, trying to send a message to the team: We’re here, we’re ready, we’re good,” he said. “Send a message to the country: We’re good.”

Whether Edey was referring to the team’s quality or mental resolve, both questions were soundly answered by the end of the evening.

Grambling (21-15), making its first NCAA men’s tournament appearance, kept things close in the first half. The Tigers trailed by four points with 3:38 left before Purdue sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer hit a 3-pointer and a layup to give the Boilermakers (30-4) a 36-27 lead at the break.

By that point, Edey already had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

In the second half, the reigning national player of the year further asserted his dominance. He helped the Boilermakers stretch their lead over the course of the final 20 minutes as a partisan crowd inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse roared with each big play.

Edey became the first player since Maryland’s Joe Smith in 1995 to have a 30-point, 20-rebound game in the NCAA tournament. It was Edey’s third career game with 30 points and 20 rebounds, the most of any player in Division I over the past 25 seasons.

The 7-foot-4 center was exactly as advertised.

“I don’t think nobody has seen anything like Zach Edey,” Grambling guard Kintavious Dozier said. “That’s kind of unreal. What they say he is on paper, he’s exactly that.”

Tigers coach Donte’ Jackson issued a warning to other teams that will have to face him and Purdue during the rest of the tournament.

“The reality of the situation is,” Jackson said, “I hope you’re equipped for it.”

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