GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In a 63-50 Final Four win Saturday against NC State, Purdue improved to 15-0 this season when Lance Jones scores 15 or more points in a game. The Boilermakers tend to go as star big man Zach Edey goes -- and he indeed was key in the win, scoring 20 and grabbing 12 boards -- but they seem to hit the turbo button when Jones is on his game. 

That registered as a surprise to Jones.

"Who, me?" the transfer guard said, seemingly taken aback by the stat.

That's because Jones is not always hunting his shot. He is not the centerpiece of this No. 1 seed Purdue team that is marching its way into the NCAA championship game Monday. What Jones is, though, is the only newcomer in that Purdue team's primary six-player rotation -- an essential difference-maker who stepped up in the bright lights of the Final Four.

"I just wanted to come in and be that person that does whatever is necessary," Jones, who spent four years at Southern Illinois before moving to Purdue this season, said after the game. "Obviously, I wanted to bring my defensive edge. But really I just wanted to win."

Against NC State, Purdue asked Jones to dust off his cape and help save the day. And save the day he did: He finished with 14 points, drilled four 3s and set the tone defensively in aiding the Boilers to a cozy win.

This is mostly the same Purdue team that lost last season as a No. 1 seed to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round, becoming the second-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed and entrenching itself in infamy. That loss came with point guard Braden Smith committing seven turnovers and the team finishing 5-for-26 from 3-point range. And while Smith struggled again Saturday, finishing 1-for-9 shooting with five turnovers, Jones in a pinch recognized his game -- and his mentality -- was needed in the biggest game of Purdue's season.

"I brought a different type of mojo and swagger and edge to this team," Jones said. "I feel like it's rubbed off on these guys."

Purdue coach Matt Painter agrees.

"Lance Jones is a piece that's really helped us," said Painter. "I thought his defense tonight on DJ Horne was really good. The moment wasn't too big for him. He took the shots that were there for him. To be able to knock them down... The addition of that. ..."

Jones describes his move from Southern Illinois to Purdue, where he went from the second-leading scorer for three consecutive seasons to the third option — and probably fourth most-known player, behind Edey, Smith and shooting guard Fletcher Loyer — as a "sacrifice." But that was one he was willing to make to jump from mid- to high-major and help Purdue in a quest for a championship.

The mindset has not changed for Jones, though, despite changing circumstances. He puts in the work and feels confident, bordering on cocky, about his shot, even though they aren't as relied-upon as they were elsewhere. When he gets the rock and feels his number is called, he can seamlessly transition from an overqualified role player to a stellar second option behind Edey. Regardless of role, he abides by letting it fly and playing loose.

"It's about trusting my work and letting it fly," said Jones. "My whole agenda and mojo has rubbed off in a good way. We're not going to let you roll over us."

Smith after the game said he felt in the first half he "wasn't there." All five of his turnovers came in the first frame and he went 0-for-6 shooting in that span. But he credits the addition of Jones for being Johnny-on-the-spot -- and feels his infectious energy changed the trajectory of this team.

"He's an unbelievable dude. Always smiling, always encouraging us, always guarding the best player, and also scoring," Smith said. "Right when he stepped on campus, he was ready to help."

That help has come in all shapes and sizes this season for Jones, but perhaps none as terrific and timely as Saturday. Purdue will play here Monday night in the championship game for just the second time in school history, and you can bet Jones will be here, letting it fly.