Carsen Edwards Drops 42, No. 3 Purdue Advances Past No. 6 Villanova to Sweet 16

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 24, 2019

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT - MARCH 23:  Carsen Edwards #3 of the Purdue Boilermakers celebrates his basket against the Villanova Wildcats in the first half during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at XL Center on March 23, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

There will be a new national champion in college basketball after the Purdue Boilermakers picked apart the Villanova Wildcats 87-61 on Saturday in the South Region.

In addition to sending Villanova home early, the Boilermakers extended their streak of reaching the Sweet 16 to three straight seasons. Head coach Matt Painter has his team back on track after it lost two of its final three games in the regular season and Big Ten tournament.

Carsen Edwards cracked the 40-point mark for the second time this season. The Purdue junior finished with 42 points on 12-of-21 shooting. Matt Haarms added 18 points and nine rebounds.

Villanova shot just 34.5 percent from the field, and its 87 points allowed were a season-high. Senior Eric Paschall ended his college career with a team-high 19 points.

Edwards had his most efficient game since scoring 25 points on 16 field-goal attempts against Ohio State on March 2.

In Purdue's first tournament win over Old Dominion, Edwards needed 23 shots to score 26 points. He showed how quickly the Boilermakers offense can strike when he's on top of his game against Villanova.

It wasn't just Edwards who was causing Villanova headaches. The defending national champs gave up 12 offensive rebounds and had more turnovers (10) than assists (seven).

The first half, in particular, saw Purdue playing at a rapid pace that would have given any team in the country headaches. It went into the intermission with 43 points and shot 9-of-18 from three-point range.

The Boilermakers ended the season losing two of their last three games—both defeats were against Minnesota. Their last win over an opponent ranked in the AP Top 25 was on Jan. 27 over Michigan State.

Because of those struggles, as well as the team's history of blowing big leads in tournament games, Purdue fans were still uneasy after going up by 19 at halftime.

Seemingly out to prove this game wouldn't be a repeat of the 2015 loss to Cincinnati—up 56-49 in the final minuteand 2016 loss to Little Rock after being up 13 with 3:33 remaining, the Boilermakers started the second half on a 16-0 run.

There was a moment when Edwards had outscored Villanova by himself during that run:

Despite being given a No. 6 seed, the Wildcats had hoped to make a deep run in the tournament. They won six of their previous seven games, including the Big East tournament. Head coach Jay Wright did an excellent job of building this team up throughout the season.

But Wright also had to replace seven players from the 2017-18 title team, including his top four scorers.

A 26-win season with all of the talent that left speaks to how well Wright and his coaching staff have done recruiting for the Wildcats. They are still the class of the Big East and figure to be better next season with two of the nation's top 15 recruits committed to the program, per 247Sports.

Purdue's statement win will give Painter and company more confidence heading into the Sweet 16. The program hasn't reached the Elite Eight since 1999-00. The Boilermakers are well-positioned to end that drought with two easy tournament wins this week.

     

What's Next?

Purdue will play the winner of Sunday's No. 10 Iowa-No. 2 Tennessee matchup in Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday.

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