After Wednesday’s disappointing game it is clear Purdue has a lot to work on. Fortunately, there are three games left to do so before facing Notre Dame in Indianapolis. Two of them are at home against mid-major teams, while the other game is in New York against an Arizona State team that has not looked very good so far. Purdue needs to cut down on its turnovers in the half court, most of which are self-inflicted. It also needs to get Vincent Edwards going after a very slow start to the year.
That’s what Saturday is for.
Morehead State Eagles
From: Morehead, KY
Date : Saturday, December 3, 2016
Tip Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
Location: West Lafayette, IN
Arena: Mackey Arena (14,804)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
Odds: No Line Yet
2015-16 Record: 23-14, 11-5 OVC (CBI runner-up)
2016-17 Record: 2-4
Opponent Blog: None
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 1-0
Last Morehead State Win: None
Last Purdue Win: 81-71 at Purdue on 12/5/1985
NCAA Tournament History: 7 appearances. 1956 and 1961 Sweet 16. Last appearance in 2011
Morehead State was one of those troublesome mid-majors a few years ago led by Kenneth Faried. He was twice the Ohio Valley player of the Year and he took them to the NCAA Tournament in 2009 and 2011. Both times they even won a game. In 2009 it was just the play-in game before they lost to No. 1 seed Louisville by 20. Two years later they got Louisville again in a 4/13 and topped them 62-61 before losing to Richmond in round 2.
Since then they have been a decent mid-major, but they haven’t gotten back to the tournament. Last year was their best year as they made the CBI final and reached the Best-of-three final. They won the first game over Nevada, but dropped the next two to lose the title. The only games against power conference teams were a 92-59 loss at Indiana and a 72-62 loss at Pittsburgh.
They enter this game on a four game losing streak with losses to Marshall, Evansville, Pittsburgh, and Northern Kentucky. This was after a couple of season opening wins over Kentucky Christian and Lipscomb.
The Eagles are led by Xavier Moon, a 6’2” senior guard averaging 13.3 points and 2.8 assists per game. Malik Maitland is their only other scorer in doubles figures, averaging 12 points and 4.5 assists. The 5’11” sophomore guard gives them a pretty competent back court that can at least challenge Purdue.
A familiar name for Purdue fans is their best forward. DeJuan Marrero, who led Bowman Academy to a couple of state finals and a Class A state title in 2010, averages 9.8 points and 7.8 rebounds as a 6’6” senior. Purdue gave him a long look in the 2012 recruiting cycle, but he eventually signed with DePaul before transferring to Morehead State. Against Pittsburgh he had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
It is a common refrain in these types of games, but Purdue should have an overwhelming advantage in the post because of Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan. They have absolutely no size to match up with them. Lamontray Harris (6.5 points and 5.7 rebounds) is a 6’7” sophomore forward, but aside from the 6’9” senior Ty’Quan Bitting, who plays just 10 minutes a game, he is their post presence.
There are a few other names of interest here too. Freshman Djimon Henson played at Lawrence North in Indianapolis, the same school as Basil Smotherman. Jordan Walker, another freshman, was a solid player at Cathedral and he is averaging 5.3 points per game.
After a disappointing outing against Louisville and some unexpected struggles at home against Georgia State and NJIT Purdue needs to come out and assert its will in this game. This is a game for Purdue to tweak a few things in terms of cleaning up turnovers. It should not be a challenge to win, but we thought that about Georgia State as well.
Expect a large, comfortable win here. It is probably time to panic if we see anything otherwise.