How the title game was built: Zach Edey powers Purdue over NC State


PHOENIX — The Purdue Boilermakers will play in the national championship game for the first time since 1969.

Zach Edey recorded a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double and Lance Jones added 14 points in a low-scoring 63-50 victory over NC State on Saturday. DJ Burns Jr. picked up two early fouls for the Wolfpack and was limited to eight points in 27 minutes. Kevin Keatts’ team was also hampered by Michael O’Connell suffering an apparent hamstring injury in the first half.

It now falls to Purdue to try to break the Big Ten’s championship drought. The league has not won a national title since Michigan State cut down the nets in 2000.

As we turn to the next semifinal — No. 1 seed UConn faces 4-seed Alabama — ESPN’s John Gasaway, Josh Weinfuss, Jeff Borzello and Myron Medcalf break down how Saturday’s games were won to set up Monday’s championship matchup at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix. — John Gasaway

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HOW PURDUE BEAT NC STATE 63-50

What was key in Purdue’s win?

Well, besides having the two-time AP player of the year play like a two-time AP player of the year, Purdue advanced to the national championship game because of its outside shooting. The Boilermakers made 10 3-pointers (40% from behind the arc) while holding NC State to 28.8%. This, despite having 16 turnovers, their most of the tournament — a vast change from Purdue’s past two NCAA tournaments, when it shot just 26.7% from 3. The Boilers’ shooting helped them prevent a fifth loss with at least 14 turnovers. — Josh Weinfuss

What surprised you the most about this game?

There were about 30 or 40 total points that went missing in this one, and I did not see that coming. Purdue arrived at the Final Four with easily the best offense in the tournament, one that scored 1.29 points per possession in its four wins. This time, though, the Boilermakers put up 63 points in 64 trips down the floor. NC State did well to force the Boilers into 16 turnovers, but the Wolfpack just couldn’t hit their shots. — Gasaway

Who was the most outstanding player?

Who else? This Purdue team runs through Zach Edey one way or another, and it happened again. Edey finished with 20 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth straight double-double dating to last year’s NCAA tournament — while becoming the first Big Ten player with five double-doubles in an NCAA tournament. He was able to single-handedly affect the game beyond his scoring and rebounding though. Edey touched the ball on 41 possessions, which produced 36 Purdue points and just six turnovers. — Weinfuss

What can Purdue’s next opponent take from this game?

Don’t foul Edey. Holding the Wooden Award winner to a 20-12 double-double qualifies as a win for NC State; the Wolfpack just couldn’t follow up on it and score enough points. Still, making Edey score from the field is your best option in a situation that doesn’t have any good options. Edey will get his points no matter what, but don’t put him on the line and don’t deplete your frontcourt. — Gasaway

What will be the legacy of NC State?

NC State’s run to the Final Four is still historic. The Wolfpack were just the sixth 11-seed to reach a Final Four, and their streak of nine consecutive elimination-game wins was simply remarkable. Stories of Jim Valvano and NC State’s incredible 1983 championship run came out of the archives and Burns emerged as one of the NCAA tournament’s breakout stars. Keatts has plenty of job security now, and has proved Raleigh is a spot transfers can make an immediate impact. — Jeff Borzello



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