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Purdue Basketball: Rutgers Preview / Open Thread

The Boilermakers look to go 3-0 to start conference play against a tough Rutgers squad.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Noe Padilla/Journal & Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Rutgers (9-4, Big10 1-1) vs Purdue (13-0, Big10 2-0)

Boilermaker Kids Club Game #4

January 2nd, 2023, 7 EST

Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana


*Note: I was planning to save this until after the football game, but I think we should focus on basketball now.


Rutgers Starting Lineup

Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
Center 11 Clifford Omoruyi Jr 6'11" 240 Benin City, Nigeria
Forward 18 Mag Mawot Jr 6'7" 216 Melbourne, Australia
Wing 4 Paul Mulcahy Sr 6'7" 213 Bayonne, NJ
Guard 22 Caleb McConnell Sr 6'7" 200 Jacksonville, FL
Point Guard 10 Cam Spencer Sr 6'4" 207 Davidsonville, MD Loyola Maryland

Rutgers Bench

Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
Position # Player Class Height Weight Hometown Previous Team
Guard 0 Derek Simpson Fr 6'3" 170 Mt. Laurel, NJ
Wing/Forward 5 Aundre Hyatt Jr 6'6" 227 The Bronx, NY LSU
Center 13 Antwone Woolfolk Fr 6'9" 250 Cleveland, OH

Rutgers on Offense

Rutgers plays a perimeter oriented game, either utilizing 5 out or 4 out around Omoruyi. They are average in terms of efficiency at 104 (127th in the nation) and play a medium pace (67.7 adjusted tempo).

Center Cliff Omoruyi, at 27%, has the highest usage rate on offense, but from the games I’ve watched, they don’t treat him like a traditional low post center. He starts most possessions as a screener, either at the top of the key or the free throw line. When he starts at the free throw line, he dives to one of the low blocks for a post up. He has absurdly long arms, and utilizes a hook shot that sometimes looks like he’s dropping the ball in the basket. He leads Rutgers in scoring at 15 points a game.

The Scarlet Knights have interchangeable players on the perimeter. They start three 6’7” wings that can do a bit of everything and 6’4” Cam Spencer at point. Spencer, in particular, is having a solid start to the season. He leads the team in 3 point percentage (43%) and 3 point attempts per game (4.6). He’s also deadly from the line at 96%. Needless to say, he can shoot the basketball, and comes off pick and rolls looking to pull the trigger.

This is a test for the Purdue defense. Omoruyi and Spencer are tough in the pick and roll game, and as we’ve witnessed over the last decade, that’s not ideal for Purdue. Spencer worries me the most, because he will punish the Boilermakers from deep if they stick with their drop coverage. Smith will need to fight hard to keep Spencer from getting open looks off Omoruyi screens and Edey needs to move his feet because they love the lob over the top off the pick and roll. Zach can disrupt it with his size, but he’s got to be in position to jump and contest because Omoruyi is an above the rim finisher and won’t hesitate to put a late recovering big on a poster. He might be the most athletic true big Purdue has played this year.

Rutgers on Defense

The Scarlet Knights are hell on defense. Steve Pikiell recruited a long, hyper athletic team, and that pays off in a big way on defense. Their 84.8 adjusted efficiency is third in that nation, and their effective field goal percentage of 41.2 is 4th. They are also elite at defending the 3, only giving up 24.6%, good for 3rd in the nation. Their inside the arc defense isn’t bad either, coming in at 44.3% (32).

Their man defense is active. Their 25% turnover percentage is 10th in the nation, and their steal rate of 14.8 is good for 6th. Cam Spencer (17), Caleb McConnell (73), Paul Mulcahy (89th) are all in the top 100 nationally in steal percentage. They like to jump passing lanes and create deflections.

Post entry passes will be at a premium for the Boilermakers tonight. Against Indiana, they held Jackson-Davis to 11 attempts. He shot a respectable percentage (5-11) when he got the ball on the block, but I.U. couldn’t regularly get it inside. Rutgers is going to pressure the ball with the long wings and Omoruyi may be one of the few big men capable of fronting Edey without giving up lobs over the top. Zach will have an advantage in the post once he gets the ball, but the Scarlet Knights will do their best to prevent that from happening.

X-Factor - Turnovers

This will be a test for the young Purdue guards. Rutgers thrives on turnovers, and are adept at creating them. They forced Wake Forest into 22 turnovers in an 81-57 domination of the Demon Deacons. In their win over Indiana they forced 14 turnovers, and they also forced 14 in their 1 point loss to Ohio State.

Smith and Loyer have to be intentional in their passes, or the ball will be headed the other direction. Ethan Morton and Mason Gillis will play an important roll in entering the ball into the post. They have the size to find angles, but McConnell, Mulcahy, and Mag will make them work. If they telegraph passes, Omoruyi won’t hesitate to try and step in front.

Purdue Wins If...

They value the basketball. This includes rebounding and not turning the ball over. Rutgers has a 34.7%(33) offensive rebound percentage. Purdue needs to dominate the glass and hold the Scarlet Knights to one shot. They’re not efficient on offense but they can make up for that with extra possessions.

If Purdue puts up as many shots as Rutgers, they easily win this game.

Rutgers Wins If...

They hold Purdue under 65 points. I don’t think they can score enough to beat Purdue if the Boilermakers puts 70+ on the board, but I’m not sure Purdue wants to get in a rock fight with Rutgers. If Purdue doesn’t 65+ probably means they’ve committed double digit turnovers. That’s the ideal scenario for a Scarlet Knight victory.



Purdue - 66

Rutgers - 60

73% confidence


Purdue - 71

Rutgers - 64

The Boilermakers start off the new year with a nice home victory over a tough Rutgers squad. Edey goes for 20 and 10 and Loyer knocks down a few 3’s. Purdue pull away in the second half.