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Purdue Basketball: Georgia State Preview

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Xavier v Georgia State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Purdue looks to recover from their achingly close defeat to defending champs Villanova on Friday as the Georgia State Panthers comes into Mackey looking to upset the Boilermakers. Let’s take a look at what Georgia State brings to the table.

Head Coach: Ron Hunter

Purdue fans should be familiar with Hunter. He spent 17 seasons in Indianapolis coaching IUPUI before moving to Georgia State for the 2011/12 season. He has found success at both IUPUI and Georgia State, taking both teams to an NCAA Tournament, including a Cinderella run to the third round in 2014/15 season on the back of his son R.J. Hunters stellar play. Hunter is also known for his charity work. He famously coached a game barefoot in 2008 to raise awareness for Samaritans Foot, a non-profit organization that provides shoes to those who can’t afford them. Hunter is truly one of the good guys in the NCAA.

Offense:

Hunter runs a fast paced, 3 guard offensive system, often employing a 5 out look to give his undersized team a chance to attack the rim off the dribble and kick out to waiting shooters. It’s not pretty basketball, but it can be deadly effective if you can’t contain dribble penetration.

This is the type of offense that has given Purdue fits in the past. There is no one for Haas and Biggie to match up with on defense. Expect to see our big men pulled out to the perimeter quite a bit in this game. It will be interesting to if Painter matches up with Georgia State by going small. I think you will see a good bit of the Biggie, Vince, Basil frontcourt in this game.

Defense:

They play an aggressive match up zone that looks very much like man-to-man when you spread it out with shooters. They have active hands in the zone and look to swipe at the ball and get into passing lanes whenever they can. They pressure the ball and front the post in an effort to prevent clean post passes because of their lack of size. They are vulnerable to interior scoring and offensive rebounds. They ran some junk presses against Auburn, but Auburn plays such a fragmented game it was hard for them to use it consistently. I expect to see them attempt to press the Purdue some, and I expect Purdue to punish them accordingly.

Purdue should be able to eviscerate Ga. St. on the inside if they move the ball and feed the paint. I expect some turnovers from the Boilermakers because of Ga. St.’s aggressive defense, but I also expect to see several open dunks and put back dunks. Biggie should be able to dominate the boards and the post. Their biggest player is 6’8, 245; if Haas can stay out of foul trouble, he shouldn’t have much competition around the rim.

Starting Lineup:

F – Jeremy Hollowell – 6’8 – 220 – SR – 21.5 PPG– 5 REB - 2.5 AST

Hollowell is another name Purdue fans should be familiar with. The 4* forward out of Indianapolis spent his first 2 seasons of college basketball in Bloomington playing for the Hoosiers. He transferred to Ga. St. after the 2013/14 season, and after sitting out a year, has been a staple in the Panther line up.

Hollowell is a talented wing player that will most likely be checked by Biggie on the defensive end of the floor. This is the type of match up that Biggie has struggled with in the past. Hollowell will look to pull Biggie outside and drive the ball. He’ll also look to come off of screens and shoot the 3, but he’s not an efficient 3 point shooter, shooting it 33% last season and only 18% over the first 2 games (including going 0-6 vs Auburn). Hollowell is a guy you can’t put on the line, because he is almost automatic from the stripe, shooting 81% last season and 95% this year. If Ga. State wants to pull an upset they are going to need a huge game from Hollowell. If he heats up, look for Painter to go small and match him up with Vincent Edwards.

F – Willie Clayton – 6’8 – 245 – SR – 8.5 PPG – 8.5 REB – 2.5 Blks

Clayton is another transfer to the Ga. St. program, after spending his first 3 seasons playing for Charlotte. The 3* forward has some impressive credentials, including A-10 Freshman of the Year, on his resume. He is known for his work on the glass and is an efficient scorer on the inside.

Clayton is going to spend most of his night matched up with either Haas or Biggie, so everyone might want to light a candle for him tonight. He struggled with foul trouble against Auburn, and I expect the same against Purdue if the Boilers make a concerted effort to get the ball into the paint early in the game. If Purdue can get Clayton out early, Ga. St. doesn’t really have anyone else to guard the center position.

SF/G: - Malik Benlevi – 6’5 – 205 – SO - 6 PPG – 3.5 REB – 2 ST

Malik is a rarity in the Panther’s line-up as both an original Ga. St. player and an underclassman. Benlevi is a solid athlete who tries to score around the rim. He’s not much a threat from outside. He stands out as a physical wing defender who is adept at jumping into passing lanes and getting out on the break.

Vincent will start the game on Benlevi, and I kind of feel bad for Malik. I look for Vincent to be dialed in on defense after having a sub par (for his standards) performance against Nova. Benlevi should be in for a long night, and will hope Vincent gets shifted down to the 4 at some point so he can breath.

SG – Justin Seymour – 6’3 – 205 – SR – 14 PPG – 4.5 REB – 1.5 AST

Seymour is yet another transfer into the Ga. St program. The 3* guard started at Utah, moved on to Murray State, and is finishing up with the Panthers. Seymour is a big-bodied guard that uses his strong frame to finish at the rim. He’s not a knockdown shooter, but won’t hesitate to launch a 3 if open. He shot 37% for Murray St. last year, and went 3-7 against Auburn, so he’s more than capable of hitting from the outside.

Dakota will match up with Seymour to start, and this should be interesting. Dakota has shown some tremendous improvement on defense, and he will be tested once again with the experience Seymour, who is coming off a 20-point performance against Auburn. Ga. St. needs Seymour to score to stay in the game, so look for the spotlight to be on Dakota’s defense. He has the size and strength to match up with Seymour; I think he’ll be O.K.

PG- Isaiah Williams – 6’1 – 170 – JR – 3.5 PPG – 2.5 REB – 1 AST

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Williams is another transfer, finding a home at Ga St. after starting his career at Samford, where he was named Southland Conference Freshman of the Year. Williams is another quick player that likes to attack the rim of the dribble. He’s a competent 3-point shooter (37% last season) that will spot up and look to catch and shoot off dribble penetration. He has quick hands on defense.

P.J. will be tasked with checking the Panther’s point guard. Williams has a height advantage, but I’m pretty sure P.J. has faced that before. I look for P.J. to use his strength to get into Williams and shut him down. I’m not worried about this match up as long as P.J. stays home and keeps Williams in check from 3.

Key Subs:

Jeff Thomas – 6’5 – 190 – SO – 12.5 PPG – 2.5 REB – 1.5 BLK

Thomas is Ga. St.’s best player off the bench. The 12.5 PPG is a little deceiving because he put up big numbers against NAIA Thomas (GA). His 8 points against Auburn are probably more indicative of his true scoring potential. Percentage wise he Ga. St.’s best 3-point shooter at 46% (4-7). He’s a springy athlete Purdue will see a good bit of during the game.

Jordan Session – 6’7 – 220 – JR – 2.5 – 2REB – 4 PF

I expect to see Session’s 10 minutes a game (unless he fouls out quickly) go way up against Purdue. He’s the only reserve post player Ga. St. played against Auburn. He committed 4 fouls in 10 minutes.

Overall:

Georgia State is a senior laden team that won’t be intimidated by the environment. They played with Auburn for a half before collapsing under the pressure. I expect the same against Purdue. I wouldn’t be surprised to the see halftime score be within 5-7, but they will run out of post players in the second half and Biggie and Haas will destroy them. The only thing that can derail Purdue in this game is a spate of turnovers combined with hot outside shooting from Georgia State. I expect Purdue to go with the P.J., Spike, Carsen look if the pressure starts working, otherwise, this should be a game where Purdue is challenged but not threatened.