Purdue showed in its season opener against Green Bay it can adapt to life without Carsen Edwards.
A stiffer test will come on Saturday, when the No. 23 Boilermakers (1-0) play their second straight game at Mackey Arena, this time hosting Texas.
Without Edwards, who averaged a Big Ten-best 24.3 points for the Boilermakers as a scoring combo guard last season, Purdue managed to pull away late in its season-opening 79-57 win over the Phoenix on Wednesday night. Grad transfer guard Jahaad Proctor scored 26 points, while junior 7-foot-3 center Matt Haarms providing scoring and rim protection with 16 points and a career-high seven blocked shots.
“We just said, hey, we’re not going to let them take any uncontested shots,” Haarms told reporters. “If they make contested 2s that’s fine with us, we just wanted to make sure we were there on every one.”
While Haarms patrolled the paint, Proctor provided the offensive production. Proctor’s 26 points were the most for a Purdue player making his debut since Glenn Robinson scored 30 points in his first game with the Boilermakers on Nov. 29, 1992.
“It was fun,” Proctor said. “Very exciting. I never played in front of a home crowd that big, because I’ve played for a lot of smaller schools.”
Last season, Proctor averaged 19.5 points per game at High Point before transferring to Purdue.
“He’s got a good knack for scoring,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He’s got kind of a mature pulse to his game, so he really helped us out.”
Purdue will take an 18-game home win streak into its matchup with the Longhorns and is 64-4 at home since the start of the 2015-16 season.
Texas (1-0) beat Northern Colorado 69-45 in its season opener on Tuesday night. Redshirt sophomore guard Andrew Jones posted a career-high 20 points in the win. It was an emotional return for Jones, who was on back on the court after being diagnosed with leukemia in January of 2018 and appearing in just two games during the 2018-19 season.
“Just happy for him, happy for his family,” Texas coach Shaka Smart told reporters. “Sometimes in life when you’re dealt a tough hand, it’s really all about how you respond. That’s a word we use a lot in our program, and we say response is your ability to focus on the next most important thing. For the past almost two years that’s what Andrew has had to do.”
The Longhorns return two starters from a team that went 21-16 and won the NIT championship last season. Texas made a significant staff change in hiring former Michigan assistant Luke Yaklich, a strong defensive mind who helped the Wolverines put together the second-best scoring defense in the nation last season (58.3 ppg allowed).
“At times last year our defense has been really strong, there have been other games where it hasn’t been as strong,” Smart said. “So we want to get more consistent on that end and when we hired Luke that was a big part of the conversion. I wanted him to come in here and have the freedom to implement what he wants to do on defense.”
Both Purdue and Texas are dealing with injuries early this season. Texas played its season opener without sophomore forward Gerald Liddell, who suffered a concussion during practice. Purdue sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic sat out the opener with a right foot injury suffered in practice and is questionable for Saturday night.
–Field Level Media