Loyer, Smith lead No. 3 Purdue past No. 1 Arizona 92-84 in NCAA showdown

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Purdue center Zach Edey (15) shoots over Arizona center Oumar Ballo (11) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

INDIANAPOLIS – Purdue knew it could count on Zach Edey's powerful inside presence.

Once Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith provided the outside game to go with it, the Boilermakers had all they needed to knock off No. 1 Arizona.

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Loyer tied a career high with 27 points, Smith added 26 and No. 3 Purdue handed the Wildcats their first loss with a 92-84 victory Saturday.

Edey added 22 points and nine rebounds, with the 7-foot-4 All-American handling the middle while Smith and Loyer supplied the outside firepower in the Indy Classic.

“To be able to have three guys play at that level offensively, I think, really puts defenses in a bind enough to where they went to something they haven’t ran all year and that 3-2 matchup zone that they were playing,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “When they are worried about Zach, we have to have that balance. (Saturday) we had that balance.”

Loyer was 5 of 9 on 3-pointers and Smith was 4 of 7 while falling one point shy of his career high.

The Boilermakers (10-1) defeated a No. 1-ranked team for the first time since beating Arizona 72-69 on Nov. 25, 2000, which also was played in Indianapolis.

“I’m not trying to be the No. 1-ranked team in December. (The media) decides that, not me,” Wildcats coach Tommy Lloyd said. “It was two great teams going at it and thought it was a great atmosphere. It was basically a road game for the most part. I think our guys dug in and fought back. I think this is going a long way to really help our program.”

Caleb Love scored 29 points and Keshad Johnson added 24 for the Wildcats (8-1). Oumar Ballo had 13 points.

The Boilermakers led 67-52 before the Wildcats answered with an 11-0 run to close the deficit to 67-63. Leading by five, Purdue finally regained some breathing room when Smith made a 3-pointer and followed with a steal, leading to Edey's jumper that made it 83-73 with 3:21 remaining.

The Boilermakers shot 54% while the Wildcats shot 52%.

“They have a good team and they’re going to beat a lot of people,” Painter said. “They’re going to be there at the end.”

Loyer scored 18 and Smith 14 in the first half to help the Boilermakers take a 49-38 halftime lead.

“Their good players played real well,” Lloyd said. “We tried some things and some work and some didn’t. I love this team we have.”

With the game tied at 30-all, Loyer sank two consecutive 3-pointers to start a 9-0 run.

“I think it was just being aggressive, realizing we were going to need a little more tonight, no matter where it came from not necessarily me,” Loyer said of his strong start. “I I missed the first one, not thinking twice and shooting the next one like it was going it.”

Painter said the teams will meet in Las Vegas next season.


Arizona: The Wildcats will likely lose their No. 1 spot to No. 2 Kansas. Arizona showed fight but couldn’t climb out of 15-point, second-half hole.

Purdue: The Boilermakers have already played five teams ranked in the top 15 this season.


Painter earned his 423rd victory to tie former Illinois coach Lou Henson for fourth place on the Big Ten coaching list. … Edey moved into second place on school’s career rebounding list.


Arizona: Plays Alabama on Wednesday at Hall of Fame series in Phoenix.

Purdue: Hosts Jacksonville on Thursday.

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