More than Zach Edey: No. 2 Purdue edges No. 6 Wisconsin in battle for Big Ten supremacy

Zach Edey repeatedly met double teams in the post on Sunday. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Zach Edey repeatedly met double teams in the post on Sunday. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

Zach Edey caused plenty of Wisconsin headaches on Sunday.

He wasn't alone. Braden Smith and Lance Jones gave the Badgers all they could handle as No. 2 Purdue edged sixth-ranked Wisconsin, 75-69, in Madison in a battle for the top of the Big Ten standings.

The loss was a second straight for Wisconsin after an upset to unranked Nebraska on Thursday. Purdue notched its seventh straight win following its own loss to the Huskers in January to improve to 21-2 and maintain control of the Big Ten with a 10-2 conference record. Wisconsin fell to 16-6 and 8-3 in conference play.

Purdue backcourt shines with attention focused on Edey

It was a balanced effort from Purdue that saw Edey, Smith, Jones and Fletcher Loyer all score in double figures. Wisconsin regularly focused its defensive efforts on Edey, the 7-foot-4 All-American and favorite to win National Player of the Year honors. He repeatedly met double- and sometimes triple-teams when the Boilermakers threw the ball to him in the post.

When the shot wasn't there for Edey, his teammates were ready to take advantage of the attention on their towering teammate. And when they missed, the Boilermakers cleaned up the glass in a dominant rebounding effort.

Wisconsin kept pace for much of the game and cut Purdue's lead to 59-57 in the final five minutes. But it never led in the second half after going into halftime with a 34-32 deficit. The Badgers implemented relentless full-court pressure in the game's final minute in an effort mount a rally. But Purdue withstood the onslaught to hold on for victory.

The Badgers took control early en route to a 17-14 lead. But Purdue answered with a 9-0 run to take a 23-17 lead that it would never relinquish.

Edey wakes up after quiet first half

Wisconsin limited Edey to five first-half points on four field goal attempts as Smith led the first-half Purdue charge with 11 points. The Boilermakers got Edey more involved after halftime including an alley-oop over 6-11 Nolan Winter, who was helpless to defend the jam.

Later in the half, Edey cleaned up an errant Smith layup attempt with a putback slam en route to 18 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and three blocks.

But it was Jones who led Purdue in scoring in a 20-point, six-rebound, three-assist effort. He was efficient while shooting 8 of 14 from the floor and 3 of 7 from beyond the 3-point arc. The senior transfer from Southern Illinois has provided the Boilermakers a potent 1-2 punch in the backcourt alongside Smith. He played a key role in breaking the Wisconsin pressure.

Smith, meanwhile, tallied 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. He scored from inside and out, including a strong finish in traffic in the first half to answer a Wisconsin 3.

Three Wisconsin starters scored in double figures, led by a strong effort from senior forward Tyler Wahl, who posted 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks while shooting 10 of 16 from the floor. AJ Storr added 14 points but shot 4 of 15 from the field and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

Purdue outshot Wisconsin from the floor (47.4% to 41.5%) and limited the Badgers to 15.8% (3 of 19) shooting from long distance. It secured a 42-29 edge on the glass to overcome an 11-5 disadvantage in turnovers against the Wisconsin pressure.

The Badgers and Boilermakers will meet again on March 10 in the regular-season finale for both teams.