After lighting it up for several games in a row Purdue’s offense has struggled a bit of late. On Sunday at Indiana we struggled from long range, hitting only 28% from three against the worst 3-point defense in the Big Ten. On Wednesday night back home against Maryland Purdue was only 44.8% from the floor overall and a slightly better 31.8% from three, but still not near our normal averages.
That is what makes tomorrow’s game against Rutgers a good one. There may need to be a little fine tuning necessary before the biggest week of the Big Ten season for us. Purdue should win because Rutgers has regressed to being Rutgers in the last few games. It is still a road game though, and they have sold out their little arena in anticipation of taking on one of the best in the nation. That’s the atmosphere we’re going to face in all four remaining road games. The Scarlet Knights are still a decent defensive team, too.
From: Piscataway, NJ
Date: Saturday, February 3, 2018
Tip Time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: Piscataway, NJ
Arena: Rutgers Athletic Center (8,000)
Radio: Purdue Radio Network
SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)
Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats
2016-17 Record: 15-18, 3-15 Big Ten
2017-18 Record: 12-12, 2-9 Big Ten
Opponent Blog: On the Banks
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 9-1
Last Rutgers Win: 81-73 on 12/4/1975 in New York, NY
Last Purdue Win: 82-51 on 1/3/2018 at Purdue
NCAA Tournament History: 6 appearances, last in 1991. Reached 1976 Final Four
Coach: Steve Pikiell (27-29 in 2nd season at Rutgers, 224-204 in 12th season overall)
After Purdue demolished Rutgers by 31 a month ago the Scarlet Knights returned to Piscataway and collected their first Big Ten win of the season 64-60 over Wisconsin. They followed that by taking Michigan State to overtime in East Lansing and later beating Iowa by 16. It looked like they were on the rose somewhat, but the last four games have not been kind. A defense that was once the best in the Big Ten (now sixth) has stayed strong, but the offense has been horrendous.
Rutgers is dead last in the conference in scoring at 57.6 points per game, a full five points behind Wisconsin in 13th. They entered the week with a scoring margin of -10.7, and that was before losing by 31 at Illinois. They are, by far, the worst shooting team in the conference at 35.6% from the floor. In virtually every offensive category they are either last or near last in the conference. Purdue, meanwhile, is the opposite.
And their defense can only do so much. They have failed to score even 50 points in three of their last six games, and now they have to find a way to beat the conference’s best scoring offense (79.2 points per game) and second best scoring defense (64.2 points per game given up). On scoring margin alone Purdue has a 25.7 point advantage.
In the first game at Mackey Arena Rutgers never seriously threatened. Geo Baker had 11 points and Mike Williams had 10, but the Boilers held leading scorer Corey Sanders to 8 points on 4 of 14 shooting. As a team Rutgers was 20 of 60 from the floor and just 2 of 13 from three. On the other side Purdue put five players in double figures, including Ryan Cline, who had 12. It was solid balance for Purdue. Isaac Haas led us with 14, while Carsen Edwards had 12, Dakota Mathias had 13, and Vince Edwards had 10.
I’ll be honest: probably the most exciting thing to watch will be Dakota. He currently stands at 990 points for his career, so he needs just 10 to be the 52nd 1,000 point scorer in Purdue history. He would pass some guy named Caleb Swanigan too, who “only” scored 994 points. He would join Vince and Isaac to form just the second time in Purdue history that we have had three 1,000 point scorers on the team at the same time. The other time was 2010, when we technically had four such players at one time (JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel, and Keaton Grant).
If you’re curious about getting a fourth one this year it is not likely. The next two closest players are P.J. Thompson (731 points) and Carsen Edwards (761 points). If Purdue reaches the final of the Big Ten Tournament and the national championship game for the maximum of 16 more games PJ would have to average 16.8 points per game and Carsen would have to average 14.9. So it is possible Carsen could get there, but we’re going to need a big run in March.
Back to this game for a moment. I really don’t expect Purdue to have much trouble. Rutgers is clearly better than the unmerciful 52 point beating it took from us two years ago, but this is a game Purdue really has no valid excuse to lose. Purdue 82, Rutgers 60