Pregame Glance: Purdue

Written January 24th, 2011 by Eric

After their exciting and impressive win at Illinois on Saturday, the Buckeyes return to the friendly confines of Columbus to play what could very well be one of the biggest games of the season.  The Purdue Boilermakers, fresh off an impressive home victory of Michigan State, stand at 6-1 in Big Ten play and may very well be the toughest home test for the Bucks this season.  Let’s take a look.

That's not a Boilermaker! That's a train silly!

School: Purdue University
Location: West Lafayette, Indiana
Founded: 1869
Student Population: 39,697
School Type: Public
Division: NCAA
Conference: Big Ten
Stadium: Mackey Arena
Seating: 14,123
Built: 1967
Head Coach: Matt Painter
Year: 6th

Matt Painter’s Boilers came into the season riding high expectations – in fact, the highest expectations in the Big Ten outside of East Lansing.  It was believed, and not only by Purdue faithful, that with the return of Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore the Boilermakers were going to sweep everyone out of their path on their way to a National Championship appearance.

And then disaster struck.

Robbie Hummel’s torn ACL left Purdue fans – really, all college basketball fans – in a state of shock.  It simply wasn’t possible that one of the most impressive players, and one of the best kids, in college basketball would be unable to compete again on this level.  The injury threw Purdue’s season in a cloud of doubt, with few knowing precisely how things would unfold.

Twenty games into the season that question has been answered.  Many will wonder what could have been if Hummel had taken the court, but few will question the heart of this Purdue team.  A 17-3 record overall, with losses only to Richmond – a 15-5 team near the top of the Atlantic 10, and possibly one of the most dangerous mid-majors – and a pair of straight road losses to Minnesota and West Virginia.

With the win last Saturday, Purdue looks poised and ready to try to take the Big Ten by storm.  An upset of #1 ranked and undefeated Ohio State on their home court would surely do that.  But they have an uphill battle to fight.  Away games, particularly in the Big Ten, are a challenge for any team, as Purdue discovered in their trip to the Twin Cities a couple weeks ago.

JaJuan Johnson

Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson gets the honor of taking on Jared Sullinger in the paint.  If there is any player in the Big Ten capable of stoping the dynamic OSU center, Johnson is it.  Measuring in at 6-10, 221, the Senior big man has demonstrated his capability of winning the battle on both sides of the court.  Not surprisingly, his numbers have improved from last season, with Johnson scoring 5 additional points and grabbing an extra rebound every game.  His biggest improvement has been in his willingness to distribute the ball more to help his team, wracking up an assist per game on average.

Surprisingly, the Boiler’s have been inconsistent in going to Johnson down low.  Painter has recently made an effort in practice to get his players to drive the ball into the paint, but it remains to be seen how well that lesson has taken hold thus far.  It will be up to Guards E’Twaun Moore (6-4, 191) and Lewis Jackson (5-9, 165) to find him down low.  Given the way the Buckeyes have played in the paint defensively of late, it’s hard to imagine stopping the versatile Johnson.  It will be up to Sullinger to slow him down.

Stopping E’Twaun Moore might be more feasable.  During their two game losing streak, Moore went ice cold, shooting 8-32 and scoring only 19 points combined, well below his season averages.  It will be interesting to see how Aaron Craft matchups up with him defensively, but there is no question that the young freshman will have to leave it all on the court to keep Moore down.  In case you’re wondering, Craft limited Talor Battle to 5-17 shooting (1-10 from three) and Demetri McCamey to 2-11 (1-5 from three).  That’s two of the best point guards in the Big Ten – and McCamey is arguably the best in the nation, if you believe the former National Player of the year, anyway.

Ohio State GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
Jared Sullinger 20 30.5 17.9 10.2 1.4 1 0.6 1.5 0.576 0.741 0.125
William Buford 19 29.9 13.4 4.1 3.4 0.9 0.4 1.9 0.45 0.813 0.406
David Lighty 20 31 12.8 4 3.7 1.6 0.5 1.7 0.458 0.649 0.451
Jon Diebler 20 33.8 11.7 1.9 2.5 1.3 0.1 0.9 0.497 0.786 0.476
Dallas Lauderdale 20 18.3 4.6 4.2 0.2 0.1 1.9 0.9 0.683 0.333 0
Purdue GP MIN PPG RPG APG SPG BPG TPG FG% FT% 3P%
JaJuan Johnson 20 34.7 20.5 7.9 1.1 0.9 2.2 1.5 0.505 0.792 0.292
E’Twaun Moore 20 33.2 18.1 5.8 3.5 1.6 0.5 1.6 0.441 0.679 0.4
Lewis Jackson 20 24.4 6.9 3.2 3.9 0.7 0.1 2 0.551 0.692 0.375
Ryne Smith 20 22.2 6.6 1.9 1.8 0.5 0.1 0.6 0.5 0.824 0.493
Travis Carroll 19 9.4 1.5 2.2 0.3 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.538 0 0

There’s no question that this is going to be a dog fight from start to finish.  Both teams are going to be playing their best basketball on Tuesday night.  The only question remaining is who will come out on top.

The game will be played in Value City Arena at 9 PM Eastern Time.  You’ll be able to see the game on ESPN.

10 Comments

  1. MikeNo Gravatar
    January 24th, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Go Boilermakers!

    [Reply]

    EricNo Gravatar
    January 24th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I was hoping to draw some Purdue fans to read this. Thanks for stopping by Mike =)

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    January 24th, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Welcome, Mike!

    Purdue fans are great… ’cause they can read. Unlike certain northern fans we’ve encountered.

    [Reply]

  2. BlockONationNo Gravatar
    January 24th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    I hope for a great game, with no injuries, and of course VICTORY #21 for our Buckeyes! I am PUMPED!

    [Reply]

  3. Boilerzz94No Gravatar
    January 24th, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I know Craft has been very good defensively, but I figured Lighty would be guarding Moore. Moore tends to struggle with long and athletic defenders (a la Rodney Williams at Minnesota). He can usually shoot over guys smaller than him because he’s so adept at using his body in the lane and has that pretty teardrop that Battle and McCamey don’t have.

    I’m not sure whether we go big against Sully or small to try to wear him out defensively, but I’d wager he and JJ will offset each other.

    We’re going to need more than Moore and Johnson to beat an explosive Buckeye team. If our three point shooters show up (Smith, Hart and Byrd especially), I think we can pull off the upset, but it will be a tall, tall order.

    [Reply]

    EricNo Gravatar
    January 24th, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    While I agree with your assessment, Thad Matta has consistently put Aaron Craft in defensive assignments that we thought Lighty would be the natural to take. I see no reason for him to change now, and expect Craft to take care of Moore defensively.

    If we see Lighty on Moore, then we’ll know that Matta was thinking like you! =)

    [Reply]

    Lurking_MichaelNo Gravatar
    January 25th, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I kind of expect Craft to stay on the opposing point, to try to keep the ball moving away from Johnson and/or Moore. Pressure on the point can effect where the ball ends up going. Then again, Craft on Moore wouldn’t surprise me either.

    [Reply]

  4. jigboy22No Gravatar
    January 24th, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Gonna be a slug-fest.

    3 things have to happen for Purdue to win…

    1) Limit offensive rebounds

    2) ‘Twaun can’t go MIA like he did at WVU and Minny

    3) Lewjack needs to keep defenses honest by continuing to
    drive the lane

    If Sully can get JJ in foul trouble early its going to be a long night because Marcius blows ass and Carrol looks like a tard when he’s on the floor. Whatever goes down I’ll still be rooting for all the B10 teams come tourney time.

    [Reply]

  5. ShawnNo Gravatar
    January 25th, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    This should be a lot of fun to watch. Two totally different styles of play in the post. JJ tends to avoid contact but counters with a very effective fadeaway and some serious range. Sullinger is definitely more of a true low post player.

    In the past, Purdue struggled with dominant big men like Blake Griffin and Hasheem Thabeet, but I think JJ has really turned the corner this year on both ends. JJ matched up well with Keith Benson of Oakland and went toe to toe with the bigs of Minnesota.

    On defense, his strategy lately (I assume Matty’s orders) seems to be get in position and make shots difficult, but avoid contact. I don’t think JJ is going to be able to get away with that against Sullinger. I’m hoping JJ ends up with 3 or 4 fouls because that will tell me he’s really challenging Sully’s shots.

    Then again, it could mean that Hightower wore his dancing shoes. I just hope Ted Valentine isn’t officiating the game tonight. Dude is -6.1 in home foul margin this year.

    [Reply]

    EricNo Gravatar
    January 25th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Great…Hightower…that may have just ruined my day.

    To add a little something, Sully has been observed to take the occasional jumper away from the basket. We might not see it tonight, especially matched up with Johnson, but Sully definitely has more to his game than the low post stuff. Should make life very interesting in the paint tonight!

    [Reply]

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