Purdue begins the new Indy Classic as the #1 ranked team in the country for the second season in a row and will face the Davidson Wildcats for the third time in program history. The first meeting was highlighted by a well known small school player by the name of Steph Curry who ended up averaging 28.6 pots that season but was held to just 13 points against the Boilermakers (his second lowest total of the season). This season will be highlighted by the head to head matchup of Foster and Fletcher Loyer along with the Boilermakers trying to extend their #1 ranking to a second week.
Let’s get to the matchups to watch for on Saturday in Indianapolis.
1 | Foster vs. Fletcher Loyer
If you didn’t think this wasn’t going to be the first thing then you might have dipped into the spiked eggnog a bit too quickly this holiday season. The Loyer brothers have turned out to be quite the scoring force for their respective programs to start the season with Foster averaging 19.5 points per game while Fletcher is averaging 13.1.
Foster, is in his second season with the Wildcats, has upped his scoring by over 3 points per game while also averaging 5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. Loyer also averages nearly 37 minutes per game and is clearly the primary scoring option while also being the primary ball handler. Fletcher is averaging 13.1 points per game but has averaged 17.3 over the last three games against Minnesota, Hofstra, and Nebraska.
Look for the brothers to guard one another at some point as Purdue does switch on the perimeter and that could be an advantage for the younger Loyer as he is 4 inches taller and more athletic than his older brother. It will be interesting to see what had to have been hundreds of games of 1 on 1 finally play out during a real game.
2 | Zach Edey vs. Davidson’s Double & Triple Teams
If you watched the Nebraska game you saw a team that effectively took the ball out of Zach Edey’s hands by playing him roughly 3⁄4 of the way on his high side and then doubling from the lower baseline to force him to make quick decisions and get the ball out of his hands. Zach did a nice job most of the game but struggled with 5 turnovers and only got 7 shot opportunities. That is not a recipe that Purdue can win their games at a high percentage against B1G conference opponents not named Nebraska, Minnesota, and Northwestern.
Frequently, Nebraska was able to make Zach uncomfortable and force him to pass the ball out to the perimeter using skip passes from the post. Zach needs to be more patient and even turn to face the hoop more to effectively use a pass fake to get the defense to move and make better passes, pass back out for a post reload, or to then get himself into better post position.
I liked the patience Edey showed in the post, and it eventually got Morton open. Extra pass to Smith, who I think needed to take that shot pic.twitter.com/7DvZqgjrnf— Joe Jackson (@Joe_Jackson2210) December 11, 2022
Davidson has some decent length that see 20+ minutes per game but only 6’9 Sam Mennenga has size at 245 pounds to really meet Edey in the middle. Expect Davidson to send plenty of help in a similar manner to Nebraska from the lower backside until Purdue proves they can make them pay from outside.
3 | Davidson’s 3pt Shooting vs. Purdue’s 3pt Defense
This is an aspect of Purdue’s defense that has greatly improved over the course of the last year. Purdue is allowing opponents to shoot 27.3% from behind the arc which is an improvement of nearly 6% from last year’s defense (33.2%). Last year Purdue just seemed to get lost on defensive rotations and frequently leave shooters wide open or get caught in bad positions on transition defense after a poor shot on offense. Those two aspects have been significantly reduced this year just from playing a more fundamentally sound and high effort brand of basketball. Purdue currently ranks 18th in the country in three point parentage defense.
On the flipside of this matchup is Davidson who has a number of different players who have the ability to get hot from behind the arc. Davidson has 3 players who shoot above 40% from behind the arc in Loyer (41.3), Mennenga (44%), and Skogman (40%) while having two others at 35% or better in Kochera (37.2%) and Bailey (35.7%). Good perimeter defense against the Wildcats will be very important and likely the Boilers will want to funnel Davidson into Edey for short floaters and pull up jumpers over the top of him. This has worked well for Purdue up to this point allowing opponents to score and average of 64.2 points per game.
Duke goes PnR, putting Edey in action. Edey does a good job in drop coverage, and I think Loyer did fine getting through the screen, just a good shot by Proctor pic.twitter.com/WcOWQvdzO3— Joe Jackson (@Joe_Jackson2210) November 28, 2022
Thanks to Joe Jackson for the great highlight here against Duke where Purdue wants to not give up shots from three by certain players and instead force them into jumpers from the 12+ foot area. If players are able to make those shots on a consistent basis, which are largely the lowest percentage hit in the college game, you live with that and move on knowing. Look for Purdue to force Davidson into these types of shots over their length in the post and on the perimeter.
***I wanted to give a brief shoutout to Joe Jackson who does a wonderful job of cutting up highlights from each game and describing briefly what is going on. For any fan of Purdue and basketball, he is a great follow! You can follow Joe on Twitter @Joe_Jackson2210.