When the AP Poll came out on Monday it revealed an absolutely brutal slate for Purdue’s next 10 games. Of those 10, seven will come against teams currently in the top 25. Of the other three, Purdue will face Notre Dame on a neutral floor and a currently undefeated Belmont team that is favored to represent its conference in the NCAA Tournament. Only Ohio is a break on paper. As if this run wasn’t challenging enough, only four of those games will come in the friendly confines of Mackey Arena. Purdue must go to Florida State, to Michigan, to Texas, to Michigan State, to Wisconsin, and face Notre Dame on a neutral floor.
This is the stretch that will define the season. We probably need to go 5-5 to have a shot at an NCAA bid. If we go 7-3 or better we can dream of a Big Ten title and high seed in March. The critical thing (especially for Painter haters) to remember is that we very likely WILL lose a couple of these games. A 10-0 run would be absolutely fantastic, but it is highly unlikely. We need to show improvement, play close games, and probably get some luck because this team still lacks experience in many areas. It is still a great opportunity, because coming through in this stretch would be huge for later. It’s where experience is gained.
It all begins tonight in Tallahassee.
From: Tallahassee, Florida
Game Location: Donald L. Tucker Center (12,100)
Date: November 28, 2018
Time: 9:15 pm ET
Radio: Boilermaker Sports Network
Odds: Florida State by 4.5
2017-18 Record: 23-12, 9-9 ACC (Lost to Michigan 58-54 in Elite Eight)
2018-19 Record: 5-1, 0-0 ACC
Series with Purdue: Florida State leads 2-0
Last Purdue win: None
Last Florida State win: 97-57 at Florida State on 11/29/2005
Blog Representation: Tomahawk Nation
NCAA Tournament History: 17 appearances, last in 2018. 1972 NCAA Runner-Up
Coach: Leonard Hamilton (332-209 in 17th season at Florida State. 532-419 overall)
This is going to be an interesting game because both teams dropped their only games of the year on a neutral floor to a ranked team after holding an early lead. Florida State lost to Villanova in the championship game of the Advocare Invitational in Orlando this past weekend. They earned a good 79-76 win over LSU in the tournament and they opened the season at home with a win over Florida, so they have already faced a pretty challenging schedule.
This is a talented, athletic team that will definitely push us. M.J. Walker was a 5-star in the 2017 recruiting cycle and ranked 27th overall. He averages 9.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2 assists. He is also active defensively with 1.5 steals per game. Trent Forrest, a 6’4” junior guard, averages 10 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals, making him another versatile, athletic guard. This is a backcourt that is definitely going to challenge us, and Carsen Edwards is going to need to be much better defensively.
Terrance Mann (12.8 ppg, 7 rpg) is their leading scorer and rebounder. He can step outside and shoot the three a little and he is a good passer at 2.2 assists. He does a little bit of everything and will likely draw Nojel Eastern on him. Center Mfiondu Kabengele averages 11.8 points and 4.3 rebounds and will be a challenge against Matt Haarms. He, too, can spread the floor as he has attempted 7 threes this season and 26 last year as a sophomore.
The Seminoles have a deep bench, too. PJ Savoy, Christ Koumadje, Devin Vassell, Anthony Polite, Raiquan Gray, and David Nichols all play nine minutes or more. Koumadje actually brings more size than Haarms at 7’4”, 268 pounds. There is plenty of size elsewhere too as Gray is 6’8”, Polite is 6’6”, and Savoy is 6’4”
Purdue has been shooting the ball a little bit better this year than the Seminoles, but not by much. We’re at 48.2% from the floor and they are at 46.1%. We’re hitting 39% from three and they are at 37.5%, but we have shot 187 to 112 for them. That could be the difference.
I think my biggest concern, honestly, is Carsen. Yes, it is odd to say that about someone who is 10th nationally in scoring at 25.3 points per game, but I am concerned he is becoming a bit of a volume chucker. He’s 41% from three and 45.6% from the floor, but has taken the largest share of our shots by a wide margin. He has taken 114 shots while Ryan Cline has 71. No one else has more than 40.
Purdue is going to need an efficient game out of its offense. We have to play in control, limit turnovers, and not go cold offensively like we did against Virginia Tech. We had a solid first half and a versatile offense against the Hokies, but relied a little too much on Carsen in the second half. Our defense also broke down and gave up too many open looks. As long as we have the type of performance like we did in the first half against Virginia Tech we have a great shot. Let’s hope we get that, because getting a top 15 win on the road out of conference would be huge for our March resume.