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Will Purdue’s matchup on Friday vs. Gonzaga resemble their battle in the Maui Invitational?

Top seed Boilers get ready for Gonzaga in Sweet 16

DETROIT (WISH) — The Purdue University men’s basketball team is gearing up for its Sweet 16 matchup against Gonzaga.

The No. 1-seeded Boilermakers will face the No. 5-seeded Bulldogs on Friday at 7:39 p.m. EDT inside Little Caesars Arena.

It will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. Purdue beat Gonzaga 73-63 in the Maui Invitational back in November.

“I think the experience of playing them gives you a reference point, like it gives them a reference point, but I think it means very little,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “I don’t think either team played very well in the game. I don’t think either team shot very well in the game. So, they had a lot of open looks that they don’t normally make in that game. So, we’re going to have to do a much better job defending them. We’re going to have to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball. We were very fortunate to turn it over as much as we did and we were able to pull out the victory.”

Purdue center Zach Edey led the Boilermakers with 25 points and 14 rebounds in that victory back in November.

“I’ve been doing this a long, long, long time, and you just have never dealt with something like Zach, that size, but yet that good of a player,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Few. “He’s really developed his touch. His ball goes in now. It’s very soft. Great passer if you choose to double-team him. Shoots free throws really, really well. Obviously at that size, really impacts the game on the defensive end.

“So, he’s an entity that you just don’t see. The positive is we have seen him. We played him in the PK-85 early a year ago. Like I mentioned, we played him in the Maui Tournament at Thanksgiving.”

Both teams made it clear on Thursday during their media availabilities that November’s game was so long ago there’s not too much to take away heading into this Friday’s meeting.

“It has been a long time ago, and we’ve learned a lot since then,” Purdue sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer said. “We play differently. They play quite a bit differently.”

Purdue is 4-0 all-time against Gonzaga. The last time the Boilermakers beat the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament was during the Big Dance in 2000. Purdue topped Gonzaga in their Sweet 16 matchup that season, and the Boilers are hoping history repeats itself this year.

“We’re working towards being able to be a program that can consistently get into the tournament and advance and have those long runs, but also not lose our soul in the process,” said Painter.

Should the Boilers win Friday, it would be their first trip to the Elite Eight since 2019.