CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Isaac Haas is feeling it.
If the Purdue center has the ball in his hands, it's either going right through the hoop or he's kicking it out to one of his sharpshooting teammates waiting on the perimeter to do the same.
Haas scored 26 points and Dakota Mathias added 25, both career highs, as No. 17 Purdue beat Utah State 85-64 in the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday night.
Haas and Mathias took over in the second half, when they combined for 32 points on 12-of-13 shooting to help the Boilermakers (3-1) pull away after leading 39-27 at halftime. Mathias shot 6 of 7 on 3-pointers and Purdue made 11 from beyond the arc.
"We were able to take those shots and whenever they were letting us have it in the post, we were scoring in the post and they just didn't really have an answer for it," Haas said.
Alexis Dargenton led Utah State (3-1) with 14 points and nine rebounds. Julion Pearre added 10 points.
Caleb Swanigan had 15 points and made the Boilermakers' second 3 for a 19-7 lead, their biggest of the first half, with 11:43 to play. The Aggies chipped away and cut Purdue's lead to 28-27 on a layup from Jalen Moore with 4:16 to go, but the Boilermakers closed the half with 11 consecutive points and leaned on Mathias and Haas to pull away in the second.
Mathias checked out of the game with a few minutes left to big high-fives from his teammates. While they cheered his scoring effort from outside, Mathias was more excited about his defense. He had six rebounds and two of the team's seven steals.
"We just keep making strides and getting better in that area," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We've just got to be able to get strings of stops and put them together."
Norbert Janicek did all he could to try and use his 6-foot-11 frame to slow the 7-foot-2 Haas. Janicek played Haas physically and fouled out with just more than 9 minutes left as a result. Quinn Taylor replaced Janicek, and Haas scored 13 more points in that matchup.
"He just overwhelms people at times," Mathias said. "I think every game he's fouled out somebody or multiple people, so they go through two or three different guys down low. He finishes through contact, so he was great today."
AT THE LINE
Haas and Swanigan combined to make 16 of 20 free throws. The Aggies combined to attempt 14.
"We didn't take away their inside play and we let their guards, especially Mathias, make way too many shots," Utah State coach Tim Duryea said. "Defensively, foul trouble hurt us and offensively we forced some things and tried too hard at times and that made our shot selection suffer and our turnovers go up."
THE BIG PICTURE
Purdue: The Boilermakers arrived in Mexico with plenty of issues after an emotional loss to defending national champion Villanova followed by a shaky performance in a 64-56 win over Georgia State after trailing by 12. The Panthers beat the Boilermakers on the glass and stymied their 3-point shooters before Purdue ripped off a 20-point run. The Boilermakers answered some questions in this one, though, improving their 3-point shooting and first-half defense.
Utah State: The loss snapped the Aggies' most consistent run since last season when they won four straight in late December.
Purdue plays Auburn (4-0) for the tournament's Riviera Championship on Wednesday.
Utah State plays Texas Tech (3-1) for third place in the tournament's Riviera Division on Wednesday.