The Nittany Lions return to the road in search of their first Big 10 conference win of the season when they take on Purdue Sunday at noon in Mackey Arena. The game is available on BTN.
THE LAST TIME OUT
I debated whether to even rehash the Lions’ last outing. Quite frankly, the less said about Thursday’s 70-54 home loss against Northwestern, the better. PSU started out ok, but things quickly got off the rails. A 13-0 run put the Wildcats up 21-12, and they never looked back. Penn State would be lead by D.J. Newbill’s 20, but it came on 6 of 19 shooting. As a team, PSU was just over 31% from the floor, and a disturbing 20% from three. The Wildcats did not exactly light it up on the other end, but their impressive 6 turnovers and Penn State’s offensive ineptness made it an easy night for Bill Carmody’s squad.
ABOUT THE BOILERMAKERS
Matt Painter’s team opened Big 10 play with an impressive 68-61 home win over #11 Illinois. That win, however, was followed up with a blowout loss in the Breslin Center to Michigan State, and a 10 point defeat vs. Ohio State at home. It has been a struggle for much of the season as Purdue deals with life after Robbie Hummel. Of course Hummel had missed significant time during his Purdue career with knee injuries, but his 16 points and 8 rebounds last season helped lead the Boilers back to the NCAA tournament. Purdue averages just under 67 points per game, and only has two players averaging double figures (Terone Johnson-13.7, A.J. Hammons-10.3). Where Purdue is strong is the glass, ranking 26th nationally with 40.6 rebounds per game.
I fully expect PSU to come out with much more energy than they had for the bulk of the Northwestern game. While Chambers did not take the opportunity to light his team up in the post game news conference, you can safely assume he let them have it on the practice floor the following day. Purdue’s aggressiveness on the glass will be a key, as PSU typically is a good rebounding team as well. One additional area to keep an eye on is 3 point shooting. PSU has struggled to defend the 3 all season, but could get a respite against a Purdue team that shoots just over 28% from downtown . On Thursday, the Lions got plenty of good looks, but were not able to convert many of them, including several bunnies inside of 5 feet. It goes without saying that PSU has to hit those to have any chance. The key for me will be Brandon Taylor and foul trouble. He got his first foul 15 seconds in on Thursday, and was never a factor offensively. Chambers desperately needs him to be on the floor as an offensive threat to take the pressure off of Newbill and Marshall. The Lions will look much better, but the Mackey Arena crowd, and Purdue’s superior talent will be enough to top the Lions by 8.