No. 1 Purdue will be in uncharted territory when it plays host to New Orleans on Wednesday in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Boilermakers (11-0), who were unranked to start the season, maintained the top spot in the AP Top 25 when the poll was released Monday. This is the first time Purdue has sat atop the poll for consecutive weeks. The Boilermakers were ranked No. 1 for the first time last December, then lost their next game at Rutgers.
After returning to the No. 1 spot last week, the Boilermakers defeated Davidson 69-61 at the Indy Classic on Saturday in Indianapolis. Center Zach Edey had 29 points and 16 rebounds to lead Purdue.
“You know the thing about Zach, don’t take him for granted. I know I don’t,” coach Matt Painter said. “He’s great, he’s fabulous and he’s unselfish, which makes for a great teammate.”
Two of Edey’s teammates also had double-doubles. Caleb Furst had 12 points (all in the second half) and 13 rebounds, and freshman Braden Smith contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds.
“I thought the difference in the game was our ability to get a lot of free throws and to make a lot of free throws,” Painter said.
Purdue made 28 of 37 free throws while Davidson went 6 of 11.
The Boilermakers have struggled with their 3-point shooting recently, making just 10 of 54 (18.5 percent) over the past two games, including 3 of 25 against Davidson.
Their 11-0 start matches their best start (2015-16) since the 2009-10 team started 14-0. In 125 years of basketball, Purdue has won its first 11 games only seven times.
The Privateers (3-7) face a daunting task against a team that has won 32 straight regular-season games against unranked opponents either at home or on a neutral court.
It is the toughest challenge yet for a New Orleans team that already lost to Butler and LSU.
“This is an experience that our players will talk about for the rest of their lives,” New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger said. “They get a chance to go against the best team in the country. It’s a great opportunity for us.”
The game against Purdue is the final contest for the Privateers before they start Southland Conference play at Houston Christian on Dec. 30.
New Orleans played its final pre-conference home game when it defeated in-town rival Dillard, an NAIA squad that had won seven straight games, 79-71 on Monday night.
Jordan Johnson scored 18 points to lead four New Orleans scorers in double figures. He entered the game leading the Southland in 3-point percentage (44.4 percent) and was second in 3-pointers made per game (3.0). He sank 3 of 5 long-distance attempts on Monday and increased his scoring average to 14.9 points per game.
The Privateers had just a 27-26 halftime lead, but they outscored Dillard 52-45 in the second half. The Privateers were unable to pull away, though they held on by making 31 of 38 foul shots.
“We had a lot of guys step up and make big free throws,” Slessinger said. “It was really important for us to be able to do that. We got great effort from across the whole team.”
–Field Level Media