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“Everybody knows” – Purdue feels, embraces the pressure of another NCAA Tournament

INDIANAPOLIS – Zach Edey has been asked this question before, many times in fact. A years-worth of replies have already dotted sports pages across the country and websites displayed around the world.

“It’s kinda one of those things that goes unspoken,” the All-American answers this time around.

No need to bring it up. No need to re-hash it. The act of living through being a 1-seed and losing to a 16-seed was enough for Purdue, but an eerily similar scenario has now cropped up one year later.

So the questions keep coming as the 1-seed Boilermakers prepare to take on 16-seed Grambling State.

“A couple weeks after the game it was gone,” says sophomore guard Braden Smith about the 2023 loss to Fairleigh Dickinson. “I just saw it as that. It doesn’t get brought up a whole lot. I try not to look at it like that. I try to move forward. We’re here now, so I’m excited.”

“We can’t let it happen this year as it did last year,” continues senior forward Mason Gillis. “With that comes pressure, things that you feel you have to do. Our biggest thing is just playing like we have all year.”

“No conversations about last year,” adds grad transfer Lance Jones, who joined the program after that stunning result. “I know it was a heartbreaking loss last year. Ever since I came in, these guys have been focused on living in the present. Everybody’s been focused on this year and how we can improve.”

That focus has led to a Big Ten regular season championship and an undefeated record in the state of Indiana, including a 92-84 victory over then No. 1 Arizona inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse, where the Boilers will meet the Tigers Friday evening.

“Everybody knows what this team is,” says Edey. “Everybody knows what we can do, and everybody has the ultimate confidence in ourselves.

“Everybody knows what this upcoming game means, and everybody’s gonna take it super seriously.”

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