The Purdue Boilermakers basketball team are another club looking for a signature win. The Boilers own an 11-5 record, but are 1-2 in the Big Ten.
They opened up conference play with a home loss to then-ranked No. 3 Ohio State. To their credit, Purdue hung close for much of the game, but ultimately the Buckeyes were too much for them.
The Boilers took to the road and lost a close game at Minnesota. Purdue had chances during the final seconds but a couple of missed jumpers and a turnover prevented a rally.
Everything broke Purdue’s way in that game too. The Boilers committed just eight turnovers and outrebounded Minnesota 36-30 (including 21 offensive rebounds). What ultimately doomed Purdue was poor field goal shooting as it connected on just 39-percent of its shots. Also not helping was allowing the Gophers to shoot 52-percent from the field.
What stands out from this game is the lack of effort from AJ Hammons. In 22 minutes, he had just one rebound, one assist, seven points, and two turnovers. We’ve long talked about how his play will dictate the success of this team. When he plays well, it opens up the outside for the rest of his team. He squeezed this bad game between two solid efforts, but has been inconsistent all season.
Equally frustrating is Hammons’ effort on the glass. For a 7-footer, he has a bad habit of finishing games with just a handful of rebounds. Stats say he’s averaging seven per game, but he’s had just four in the last two. He did have 16 against Ohio State, but has a tendency to follow up big games with lackluster efforts.
Purdue rebounded from the two losses by beating Nebraska, which would be impressive if the Cornhuskers weren’t terrible. The Boilers dominated in every category, but still only won by six.
What’s been concerning lately is how deep Matt Painter has been going into his bench. He’s been giving 11 players significant minutes in conference plays lately. It speaks to a lack of effort from the starters and key reserves.
Pomeroy has dropped the Boilers down to 95 in their advanced ratings. They have the 87th ranked offense and 130th defense.
Purdue at Illinois
Jan. 15th – 9:00PM BTN
The Illini are 13-4 and have flirted with a Top 25 ranking (they were 23rd last week). Illinois is 2-2 in conference play, owning wins over IU and Penn State while losing to No. 3 Wisconsin and, surprisingly, Northwestern.
The Illini are a very solid defensive team, ranking 30th in efficiency. They hold opponents under their shooting average with regularity, and are good at playing tight defense without fouling. Purdue struggles at times to get to the free throw line.
Illinois’ offense is a different story. They’re averaging just 70 points per game this season, and just 67 points in conference games. The Illini do a good job of not turning the ball over, but can’t get to the free throw line and are hitting just 31-percent of their three point attempts.
If there is a path to victory for Purdue, its on the defensive end of the court. Purdue is above average in all defensive categories and likely won’t be run out of the building by the Illini. Illinois holds a big advantage in this game just by being at home.
There are too many “ifs” for Purdue to win games lately and this one is no exception. The Boilers leave Champaign with a loss.
Penn State at Purdue
Jan. 18th – 7:00PM ESPNU
The Nittany Lions come to West Lafayette with a 9-9 record, and are 0-5 in the Big Ten. Once again, Penn State proves that they are a football school.
Penn State actually has a pretty good offense, averaging nearly 77 points per game and an overall shooting percentage of 45-percent. They’re much better inside the arc, hitting 51-percent of shots taken. They also don’t turn the ball over very often and can get to the free throw line (where they shoot 74-percent) on nearly half their possessions.
The Penn State defense is another story. They struggle to get stops, especially without fouling. They’re not particularly good at defending the three point line but play above average defense in the paint and mid-range. Where they struggle most is getting turnovers, forcing takeaways on just 15-percent of opponents possessions.
Purdue is going to get good looks on offense and will have to cash in off turnovers. Purdue has the typical Big Ten home court advantage and will win a close game against a very mediocre Penn State team.
Don’t forget to follow us on twitter, @InkOnIndy.