Purdue appears to have assembled a triple-threat front-court attack that is poised to wipe away the bad memories of back-to-back losing seasons, adding a pair of freshmen — 7-footer Isaac Haas and 6-foot-7 power forward Vince Edwards — to returning big man A.J. Hammons.
Hammons, Edwards and Haas combined for 44 points and 21 rebounds Tuesday night in the Boilermakers' 66-61 ACC/Big Ten Challenge victory against previously undefeated North Carolina State. The trio was a collective 16 of 25 from the field, including three 3-pointers from Edwards.
"When we recruited Vince in high school, he might make five 3-pointers in one game and then just rebound and defend well in the next game," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Tonight, he was a force on the boards in the first half.
"In the second half, coming down the stretch, we defended well and kept (N.C. State guard) Trevor Lacey in front of us. That was a good win against a team with some really talented guards."
Hammons scored the game's final four points and Purdue held North Carolina State scoreless during the final 3:11.
Hammons, who finished with 15 points, made a layup with 2:26 to go for a 64-61 lead and then iced it with two free throws with 7.1 seconds to play.
Pursue (6-1) extended its ACC/Big Ten Challenge winning streak to six and defeated the Wolfpack (6-1) for the first time in five meetings.
Edwards led the Boilermakers with 16 points, and Haas added 13. Purdue out rebounded the Wolfpack, 37-31.
"I just had it in my mind to just attack," Edwards said. "Go hard ... just play hard. That's the motto here. Some things will bounce your way, and some things won't, but you still have to go hard."
Haas said he and Hammons received a pointed message from Painter before the game.
"Coach was really telling me and A.J. that today we had to be a low post force," Haas said. "We were able to get in, draw fouls on them and really open up plays for other people."
Haas and Hammons were a combined 8 of 9 from the free throw line.
"They defended really well," North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said of Purdue. "They made it very difficult for us to execute our offense at key times. And the combination of Hammons and Haas is going to be something that a lot of teams are going to have to deal with this year."
Kyle Washington came off the bench to lead North Carolina State with a career-best 17 points, and Lacey added 15, although he missed the front end of a one-and-one with 13.6 seconds to play that could have cut the deficit to 64-63 had he made both.
The Boilermakers grabbed a 51-48 lead with 11:46 remaining on a Haas dunk, but North Carolina State pulled even at 54 on a Washington field goal with 8:04 to play.
Another Washington basket at 7:22 gave the Wolfpack a 56-54 lead, but a Kendall Stephens basket and free throw gave the Boilermakers a 57-56 advantage at the 5:46 mark.
Purdue pushed its lead to 62-56 with 4:54 to play on two Haas free throws and a clutch 3-pointer from freshman point guard P.J. Thompson, prompting a Wolfpack timeout.
Lacey's 3-pointer with 3:52 to go pulled North Carolina State within 62-59. He hit again moments later to pull within one at 62-61.
Purdue led by as many as nine during the first half, settling for a 36-34 lead at intermission when the Wolfpack closed the first 20 minutes on a 10-3 run, limiting the Boilermakers to an Edwards 3-pointer during the final 5:11.
Edwards had 13 during the first 20 minutes for the Boilermakers, making 5 of 6 field goal attempts, including 2 of 2 from beyond the arc. Hammons, Haas and Mathias each added six for Purdue in the opening half.
Washington came off the bench to score eight for North Carolina State in 12 first-half minutes. The Wolfpack was able to cut into the Purdue lead by sinking 10 of 11 from the free throw line before intermission.
Purdue enjoyed a 17-14 rebounding advantage through the first 20 minutes.
Purdue: The Boilermakers played with backup point guard Bryson Scott, who suffered an ankle sprain during practice. Tuesday was the 47th anniversary of the opening game played in Mackey Arena, a 2-point UCLA victory against the Boilermakers. Former Purdue All-American guard John Wooden coached that great UCLA team. Purdue has won three in a row since losing to Kansas State in the Maui Invitational's opening round.
North Carolina State: The Wolfpack entered Tuesday's game 6-8 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge but 2-0 against Purdue, once each in Raleigh and West Lafayette. Before playing Purdue, the Wolfpack were out scoring their opponents by 18.4 points a game. Tuesday's game was North Carolina State's first this season on an opponent's court.
Purdue freshman guard P.J. Thompson sank a 3-pointer with 4:54 remaining, capping an 8-2 Boilermaker run and creating a 62-56 lead. It was Thompson's only field goal, but he added four assists and had no turnovers in 22 minutes.
"We have a lot of mature guys on this team," Thompson said. "Even though we're freshmen, we are pretty mature on the court and off it. That showed tonight."
Four of the nine players Painter used on Tuesday were freshmen.
ON THE RISE
Haas continues to open eyes with his advanced play in the post, finishing with 13 points, seven rebounds and no turnovers in 16 minutes.
He entered the game averaging 11.8 points and 5.2 rebounds.
Purdue has a Saturday home game against North Florida.
North Carolina State opens ACC play at home Saturday against Wake Forest.