Purdue Vs. Lamar: A Preview

Scott Sewell-US PRESSWIRE

Purdue can get back to .500 with a win over lowly Lamar tonight.

Purdue is now entering a critical stretch of the season if it is going to reach the 2013 NCAA Tournament. So far it has avoided a bad loss with Villanova being the weakest team it has lost two. Four of the next five games should be victories even for the worst of Purdue teams. The fifth, against Notre Dame, is now a must win in addition to 10 Big Ten games. This is merely the roadmap to the NCAAs. Following said road will be difficult, but not impossible.

Lamar Cardinals

Location: Beaumont, Texas

2011-12 record: 23-12, 11-5 Southland Conference

2012-13 Record: 1-6

RPI: 227

2012 Postseason: Lost 71-59 to Vermont in NCAA Tournament First Round

Blog Representation: None

Series With Purdue: Purdue leads 1-0

Last Purdue win: 67-56 on 12/27/85 at Santa Clara, CA

Time: 6:30pm

TV: Big Ten Network

Odds: Purdue by 20

For the first time in 12 years a Knight will be coaching against Purdue in Mackey Arena. Pat Knight, the son of legendary Bob Knight, is the coach of the Cardinals and last season he took them to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years. This is far from a strong program. They are 5-6 all-time in the NCAAs, but did reach the Sweet 16 in 1980. They had a run over four tournaments in five years from 1979-1983, but have only gone twice (2000 and 2012) since.

A lot of last season's team left due to graduation. Knight famously ripped his seniors after a loss to Stephen F. Austin, but they ripped off six in a row to take their conference's automatic bid before losing in one of the First Four games in Dayton.

As far as this season goes it has not been a fun one. Their lone win came against IUPUI 86-82 in a preseason NIT consolation game in Virginia in which former Boiler John Hart had 20 points. Since Hart is averaging 16.6 points per game this season I really do miss him.

Many of their six losses have been in blowout fashion. Arkansas State beat them by 40. Alabama topped them by 28. Their nearest win was a 75-59 loss to North Texas. That is their highest point total aside from the IUPUI game.

This is not a high scoring team. They ranked 328th out of 343 teams nationally in scoring at 56.1. They don't share the ball well (326th in assists) or shoot it well (299th in field goal percentage). This is a bad team that Purdue should have absolutely no trouble against, and they may turn out to be the weakest team on the schedule.

Freshman forward Rhon Mitchell leads them in scoring at 10.9 ppg and he rebounds decently at 5.4 per game. Senior forward Stan Brown is next at 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds. Guard Donley Manor is also a senior at 9.3 points per game, but the scoring drops off dramatically from there. Unfortunately, he turns the ball over twice as much as he provides an assist.

Manor and Keilan Blanks are the only players to provide even a remote threat from long range. Of the 15 made three-pointers for Lamar they have a combined 11 of them. The team doesn't even shoot many with only 55 attempts from long range. Outside of Banks and Manor the rest of the roster has a combined 19 3-point attempts.

As is typical of most bad teams, Lamar turns the ball over. A lot. They average 19 turnovers per game. Only Donnell Minton has an assist-to-turnover ratio that is remotely close to good.

As I said above, this is a team that Purdue should beat by a lot. If we are challenged at all then there are serious problems with this team going forward. Walk-ons Stephen Toyra and Neal Beshears should both get to play tonight. If not, something is wrong. Purdue simply needs to see a chance to work on things like shooting from the perimeter and avoiding the hot lava offense. This is a confidence building game, as will be Eastern Michigan, William & Mary, and Ball State. Purdue needs to find its shot and work out the kinks, especially before playing Notre Dame in a week and a half in a game we're likely going to need a victory. Purdue 95, Lamar 60

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