WEST LAFAYETTE — The reigning Mr. Indiana Basketball, Braden Smith, and Gatorade Player of the Year, Fletcher Loyer, did not disappoint as they took the floor at Mackey Arena Tuesday night, playing huge roles as Purdue defeated Milwaukee 84-53.
The freshmen guards got the start in their debut alongside upperclassmen Mason Gillis, Zach Edey, and Ethan Morton. Smith and Loyer did not disappoint, combining for 24 points, eight steals, seven assists, and six rebounds.
Westfield’s Smith’s seven steals set a freshman record for steals in a single game, one shy of the program record.
Fort Wayne’s Loyer led all scorers with 17 points, making five three-point shots.
Head coach Matt Painter was pleased with their performance, comparing them as strong shooters and ball-handlers, with great vision for the game.
“It’s great. It’s hard to be good right away even with someone who is talented. There’s just a big learning curve when you first start,” said Painter. “You want to get guys in your program that have a passion for the game and have that competitive spirit and just play hard.”
Without Jaden Ivey, Eric Hunter Jr., and Trevion Williams, the returners also made waves. Edey grabbed career-highs rebounds (17) and blocked shots (6), while Brandon Newman added 16 points.
Purdue returns to action Friday night, hosting Austin Peay.