It’s time for the real games to start! Purdue basketball takes the floor for a regular season game Friday night after an extended 14 game preseason. That included three warm-up games for the World University Games, the Games themselves in Taipei (8 in all), exhibitions against Carroll College and Indiana State, and a secret scrimmage against West Virginia.
Through all that, Purdue went an impressive 13-1, losing only to Lithuania in the gold medal game in Taipei because it wore down late. It has been quite a run, but the games begin for real with the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Cougars.
Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Cougars
From: Edwardsville, Illinois
Game Location: Mackey Arena (14,240)
Time: 8:00pm ET
TV: BTN PLus
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
RPI: None yet
2016-17 Record: 6-24, 1-15 Ohio Valley Conference
Record vs. Purdue: 0-2
Last Purdue win: 90-63 on 12/22/2009
Last SIU-Edwardsville win: None
Blog Representation: None
NCAA Tournament History: None
Coach: John Harris (12-46 in 3rd season)
It has been a rough transition to Division I for SIU-Edwardsville. They moved up for the 2008-09 season and the most games they have won in a single season is 12 in 2014-15. The last two seasons have seen them win only six games each season. They started out last season by winning the first two games over Hawaii and Florida Atlantic in the Rainbow Classic, but they lost the title game to Texas State. By the end of November they were 4-3 with wins over IUPUI and Grand Canyon, but they won only one more Division I game the rest of the season. That came over Eastern Illinois in the season finale. Their only major conference games were losses to Indiana and Marquette.
As expected from a team that lost 24 games, scoring was an issue. The Cougars were 290th in scoring nationally at 68.1 points per game. They enter this season at No. 302 in the KenPom rankings, while Purdue is at 17. They also gave up 76.1 points per game and were 346th out of 351 teams in assists.
Complicating matters is that the Cougars lost their top two scorers from a year ago. Jalen Henry, a 6’8” senior, is their top returning player at 12.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Christian Ellis (7.3 points, 4 rebounds) and Keenan Simmons (6.7 points, 7.2 rebounds) are their next two top returning scorers, but this is not a team long on experience. Simmons and Henry are their only two seniors, while the roster lists three freshmen and four sophomores. There is not a lot of size with 6’9” Julian Torres listed as their tallest player.
As expected, this is a game Purdue should win by a lot. The Cougars shot below 30% from three last season and lost their best two shooters. They were barely above 40% from the floor and their assist numbers were atrocious. Freshman D.J. Jackson could be a very promising player though after averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds a game last year in high school.
This is the first of two tune-up games this weekend and it will likely be the most competitive. That is not saying a lot though. As bad as SIU-Edwardsville has been, Chicago State is worse at 334 in the KenPom and they were 6-26 last season. There is a Purdue connection here though. Former player Tarrance Crump is an assistant coach from the Cougars.
The biggest thing we will learn in this game is who is redshirting. It certainly seems like Sasha Stefanovic will. Aaron Wheeler might too. We should know before tipoff. Other than that, Purdue is going to win by a lot. Purdue 97, SIU-Edwardsville 60