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Purdue at Ohio Preview

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After a Sunday disaster Purdue needs a major tune-up.

NCAA Basketball: Ohio at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Well, yesterday was a disaster. Purdue shot 30% from the floor, 17% from three, and only got to the free throw line five times. Matt Haarms was lost indefinitely to a concussion and a terrible Nebraska team that lost handily at home to UC-Riverside beat Purdue by 14. The most troubling part is that even through a very poor start, Purdue had to down to two with the basketball and just under 8 minutes to go. Isaiah Thompson missed an open good look that would have tied it and Purdue was outscored 18-6 the rest of the way.

This was an awful, awful loss. It cannot be sugarcoated. It was worse than Notre Dame last year and probably up there with Gardner-Webb a few seasons ago (I would say north Florida, but North Florida at least made the tournament that season). Purdue’s offense was terrible. The defense was mostly okay, except for a triple double from Cam Mack, but the offense was atrocious. Until Purdue can consistently hit open looks and score at the basket, both things it had in bunches yesterday, results like this can happen.

There is little time to piss and moan about it, too. Tomorrow night the Boilers head to Ohio for a similar game to last year when we played them in Mackey Arena. Last season Purdue played the Bobcats just a few days after a bad loss to Notre Dame. It blew them out by 28 in a game that didn’t bely the turnaround coming, but was the first step towards the strong finish and Big Ten title we saw. Purdue entered that game at 6-5 with a ton of questions after not looking great for weeks. Now it enters this game, almost a year to the day later, at 6-4 and hoping another comfortable win can be a springboard to something greater again.

Ohio Bobcats

From: Athens, Ohio

Date: Tuesday, December 17, 2018

Tip Time: 9PM ET

Location: Athens, Ohio

Arena: Convocation Center (13,080)

Television: ESPN2

Online: Watch ESPN

Radio: Purdue Radio Network

SiriusXM Satellite: XM (Ch. 381); Internet (Ch. 968)

Live Stats: bit.ly/PurdueLiveStats

Odds: No Line Yet

KenPom: 168

NET: Not released yet

2018-19 Record: 14-17, 6-12 MAC East

2019-20 Record: 7-3, 0-0 MAC East

Opponent Blog: Hustle Belt

Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 5-2

Last Ohio Win: 80-79 at Ohio on 12/6/1969

Last Purdue Win: 95-67 at Purdue on 12/20/2018

NCAA Tournament History: 13 appearances, last in 2012. 1964 Elite Eight

Coach: Jeff Boals (7-3 in 1st season at Ohio, 62-45 overall)

So far for Ohio the Bobcats have been a study in winning the games they should and losing the ones they should. Their three losses were to Villanova, Baylor, and Utah, while they have beaten a bunch of nobodies otherwise. Their best win is likely over St. Bonaventure in their season opener on November 5th. Two of their wins are over non-Division I teams in Heidelberg and Rio Grande.

For the most part, they have been a high scoring team. In five of their wins they have cracked 80 points. In the three losses they only scored 54, 53, and 66. They rank almost exactly in the middle of every category on KenPom. They are 168th overall, 180th in offense, and 163rd in defense. Even after the Nebraska loss Purdue is 11th overall, 37th in offense, and 5th in defense. Even if our record is not great at 6-4 after 10 games the cold, hard math still loves us as a top 15 team nationally.

Jason Preston is their leading scorer at 16.9 points per game. He had only five in last year’s game against us, but this season he has taken more of a lead role with first year coach Jeff Boals. He also averages an impressive 8.6 assists per game and 5.8 rebounds. After giving up a triple-double to Cam Mack last night that is definitely a concern. Ben Vander Plas averages 13.6 points and 6.2 rebounds and he had the best game of anyone last year against Purdue. He scored 15 off the bench in Mackey and hit four threes.

Jordan Dartis is their third leading scorer at 12.9 per game. He is a senior that missed the entire 2018-19 season, but has returned stronger. The 6’3” guard is shooting nearly 40% from three. Overall the Bobcats are a good three-point shooting team at 37.3% compared to Purdue’s 30.4%. Sylvester Ogbonda could be very interesting if Haarms is out. The 6’10” center is their tallest player and he can step outside and hit the three, going 6 of 11 on the season. Purdue could have difficulty defending him.

After last night his has become a very concerning game. Ohio is a better shooting team than Purdue by a wide margin. It is one thing to have a bad game and lose on the road in the Big Ten. That happens all the time and this season it is happening to everyone when home teams in conference play are now 13-0. Maryland lost at Penn State, Ohio State lost at Minnesota, and Michigan lost at Illinois. If Northwestern upsets Michigan State on Wednesday the first two Big Ten games will officially be a wash for everyone as all 14 teams will be 1-1. What’s concerning is that Purdue had a ton of open looks. You knew it was going to be a bad night when Purdue had a possession 90 seconds into the game and did not score despite three offensive rebounds and four good looks.

The good news, if there is some, is that the Big Ten and all of college basketball is wide open this year. North Carolina lost to Wofford. Kentucky lost to Evansville. Duke lost to Stephen F. Austin. There is no dominant team and it seems anyone can lose to anyone. There is still time to figure things out. As I often say: You can piss and moan about this or move on and get better. I trust coach Painter with the latter. I still think this is an NCAA Tournament team, and it will easily make the tournament.

The defense is going to be fine, but Purdue has to find a way to be more consistent on offense. Jahaad Proctor, Eric Hunter Jr., and Sasha Stefanovic were a combined 5 of 31 at Nebraska. When you throw in Haarms going 1 of 8 (and his one make was a dunk on the first possession), 6 of 39 from four of your starters is going to get you beaten by anyone.

Simply put, that can’t continue. Those four are going to be taking 35-40 shot per game, and I trust them to. They are starting for a reason. Maybe last night was simply all of them having a bad game at once. If you get them up to 50% from the field Purdue will be just fine. Until then, the Boilers will struggle.