Second-seeded Purdue pulls away, tops Cal St Fullerton 74-48

Purdue forward Matt Haarms (32) knocks the ball away from Cal State Fullerton forward Davon Clare (5) during the second half of a first round game in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Friday, March 16, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
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Carsen Edwards opened the game with a step-back jumper and scored more inside and out when Purdue needed him most.

Edwards scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half and the rusty Boilermakers pulled away to rout Cal State Fullerton 74-48 Friday to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Playing for the first time in nearly two weeks after losing to Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament final, the second-seeded Boilermakers (29-6) needed nearly a half to find their rhythm on offense as they missed 12 of their first 17 shots.

"It's been a while since we played a game," Edwards said. "Just getting our legs under us."

Purdue will play the Arkansas-Butler winner on Sunday.

The Titans (20-12) led midway through the first half, and then Edwards took over. He had a go-ahead layup and scored seven more points to help Purdue lead 31-20 at halftime.

"He's been doing that for us all year," Vince Edwards said. "He's always that guy that we can count on."

The Big West Tournament champions couldn't put up much resistance in the second half as the Boilermakers started making 3-pointers and using their big bodies to score inside to lead by 20-plus points.

Even with a big lead, though, Purdue coach Matt Painter kept pushing his team to defend closely and share the ball offensively. Vince Edwards took heed and hustled back to block Jamal Smith's attempt on a breakaway layup.

"It doesn't matter what you're up," Vince Edwards said. "You've always got to play hard."

Vince Edwards, looking healthy after being slowed by an ankle injury, scored 15 and P.J. Thompson added 11 points. Isaac Haas overcame a sluggish start and a scary fall to finish with nine points and 10 rebounds.

"We kind of shook the rust off," Haas said. "The second half I said, 'I can at least rebound,' and shots started to fall for us."

Cal State Fullerton's Kyle Allman scored 21 and Jackson Rowe had 10 points.

"We felt we could play with them, and we did a great job," Titans guard Khalil Ahmad said. "We were keeping them from getting easy baskets and we were hitting some shots. It just flipped on us in the second half. They started making everything and we couldn't hit a shot."

BIG PICTURE

The Titans were just happy to be in the NCAA Tournament, and they should have been because it is a rare feat for the program. They were in college basketball's showcase for the first time in a decade and third time in school history.

"In spite of the outcome, no matter what happens the rest of their life, they'll always be able to go back to Cal State Fullerton and be honored," coach Dedrique Taylor said.

The Boilermakers tried to avoid making excuses, but their slow start probably had a lot to do with being idle for nearly two weeks since the Big Ten Tournament. The conference held the event a week earlier than usual because it wanted to play in Madison Square Garden, which traditionally hosts the Big East Tournament the weekend before the NCAA Tournament.

"I was a little winded," Carsen Edwards acknowledged.

HARD FALL

The 7-foot-2, 290-pound Haas aggravating his banged-up right elbow, which he initially hurt in a win over Louisville in November, falling hard after being fouled.

"My whole body hit kind of awkward," he said. "I just laid there for a second. When I rolled over, that's when I felt my elbow."

RECORD BOOKS

Purdue tied the school record for wins with 29, sharing the mark with teams that finished seasons in 1988, 1994 and 2010.

MEMORY MAKER

Taylor said he'll never forget how he felt when the team was in a motorcade with a police escort, a luxury afforded to teams traveling to arenas during the NCAA Tournament.

"I was sitting in front of the bus with a smile in my heart because I know these guys deserve this and deserve to be in this moment," he said.

UP NEXT

Purdue plays the winner of the Arkansas-Butler game for a chance to advance to the regional semifinals for the second straight year. The Boilermakers beat the Bulldogs 82-67 in December.

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