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Purdue Basketball: Utah State Preview

NCAA Basketball: Utah State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Purdue opens the Cancun Challenge with 3-0 Utah State. The Aggies come into the game with some confidence after feasting on 3 cupcakes to start the season. Purdue is coming off an uninspired victory over Georgia State that required a 20-0 closing run to knock off the scrappy Panthers. Purdue gets another team that believes it can knock off the Boilermakers in Utah State.

Head Coach: Tim Duryea

Tim Duryea enters the 16/17 campaign looking to build on his 16-15 records from his inaugural campaign at the helm of the Aggies. While only in his second year as the Aggie’s coach, Duryea is no stranger to Logan, Utah, after serving 14 years as an assistant under Stew Morrill’s wildly successful Aggie program. It’s always nice to see a lifer like Duryea get the nod to take over a program he’s given so much to.


Not going to lie, I couldn’t find easily accessible film on any of Utah State’s first 3 games. Looking at the box scores of the first 3 games, it becomes fairly obvious that the Aggies have a balanced offense. The Aggies spread the ball around, with 3 players averaging between 8-10 shots per game. Expect a varied attack led by forward Jalen Moore, who plays a role similar to Vincent Edwards for Utah State.


Again, I’m not sure if they are going to play man or zone, but unlike Ga. State, Utah State has the size to match up with Purdue, almost man for man. Don’t expect the Boilers to be able to physically dominate Utah State the way the dominated Georgia State.


C - Norbert Janicek: 6’11, 240 – SO – 11PPG – 5.8 REB – 1.5 AST

Nobert is a big Slovakian in his first season at Utah State after one year at Snow Junior College who looks to do his damage close to the rim. He is shooting an absurd 79% from the floor, which should give you an idea on where those shots are coming from. While he rarely misses from the floor, he’s not good from the line, only shooting 55% and he leads Utah State by a wide margin with 12 turnovers on the season. I’m going to guess that Janicek hasn’t played many guys that are significantly larger than him, so Tuesday’s game should be a little surreal when he looks up at Haas. Expect this to be a Haas v Janicek battle down low for as long as the refs let the big guys bang. You’ve got to like Haas in this match-up.

PF - Ngor Barnaba: 6’8, 235 – JR – 7.5 PPG – 4.8 REB – 1.5 AST

Born in the Sudan, Barnaba is in his first season with the Aggies, after transferring from Missouri State-West Plains junior college, where he led his team in both scoring and rebounding averaging 14.7 pts and 7.5 rebs per game. He is another bruiser on the Utah St. front line. Unlike Janicek, Barnaba will step away from the basket occasionally, having attempt 8 3’s on the year. Banaba is the natural match up for Biggie, and honestly, I’d rather have Biggie match up against a bigger player. Barnaba is a good player, but he’s about to take a big step up in competition when he meets Mr. Biggie.

SF – Jalen Moore – 6’9, 225 – SR - 15PPG – 4.3 REB – 3.5 AST

Moore is the go to player for the Aggies. He was 2nd team All-Mountain West as a sophomore and 3rd team All-Mountain West as a junior. He has led the Aggies in points and rebounds the last two seasons, and is capable of having big offensive nights, breaking the 20 point barrier on five occasions last season. His game is similar to Vincent Edwards. He moves from the 3 to the 4 depending on what line up the Aggies are utilizing, and can score from both the inside and outside. He is adept at driving the ball and picking up fouls, leading the Aggies in both free throws attempted (22) and free throw percentage (86%). This should be a match up Edwards has circled, because containing Moore is the key to beating Utah State. Expect Vincent to be glued to Moore all night. It should be an interesting match up of almost mirror images. These are the match ups Vincent needs to win.

SG – Koby McEwen – 6’4, 195 – FR – 13.3PPG – 5.8 REB – 3.5 AST

McEwen is a 4* freshman from Utah by way of Canada that shocked the recruiting world when he picked Utah State over offers from Baylor, Ole Mis, and Wake Forrest. McEwen is a knock down shooter, shooting 50% (8-16) from outside the arc and 63% (22-35) from 2. Oddly, he has been an abysmal free throw shooter, mustering just 15% (1-7) from the stripe. McEwen is a talented guy that will drift between the point and shooting guard positions depending on the line-up the Aggies have on the floor. Dakota will likely draw this match up and he’ll have his hands full on the defensive end with this precocious freshman.

PG – Shane Rector – 6’2, 185 – SR – 13PPG – 2.3 REB – 5.3 AST

Rector returns for his second year as the Aggies point guard after spending his first two seasons at Miami Dade junior college. Rector led Utah State in assists last season, and currently leads them in assists. He is an active defender; recording 5 steals in his last game against Idaho State. He will shoot from 3 and is shooting 35% for the year. He will mostly be matched up with PJ and Spike, and his size could give the diminutive Boilermaker point guards difficulty.


G - Sam Merrill – 6’4, 195 – FR – 7.5PPG – 2.5 REB – 1.3 AST

Merrill is one of the classic Utah super freshmen, after spending his last 2 years on a LDS mission. Merrill is a scorer, shooting 61% from 2 (11-18) and 50% from 3 (5-10). Purdue will need to keep an eye on Merrill when he checks in and not give up any open 3’s to the freshman.

F- Quin Taylor – 6’8, 225 – SO – 5.8PPG – 4.5 REB - .8 AST

Taylor is the beef off the bench for Utah State. He’s another advanced sophomore after serving a 2-year LDS mission. Taylor is another guy that doesn’t miss many shots, shooting 67% from 2 (10-16) and 50% (2-4) from 3. It looks like he is willing to step out and shoot, so Purdue will need to keep an eye on him when he comes into the game. Otherwise, he’s just more grist for the Boilermaker inside game mill.


This is a talented Aggie team that won’t be intimidated by Purdue. After playing 3 games against teams that couldn’t really match up against Purdue’s size, the Boilers finally get a chance to play a team with a larger line-up. After a rough start to his season, this really needs to be Vincent Edwards game. The Edwards v Moore match up will go a long way in deciding this game. If Edwards outplays Moore, Purdue should be able to handle the Aggies. If Vincent struggles, Purdue could be in for a long night. Purdue should win this game, but Utah State will make them earn every point.