The Purdue Boilermakers will play their second game of the season looking to improve to 2-0 against the Morehead State Eagles. Purdue won their first game of the season 98-43 against Samford at home while the Eagles took on the Alabama Crimson Tide in their first game and lost 107-73. Morehead State won the Ohio Valley Conference last season by three games and is picked to finish in first place this season. This the second game in which Purdue will face an opponent who won their conference regular season title in the 2022-2023 season.
The Boilers will look to leverage their advantages over a team that is currently ranked 221st in the Kenpom rankings that places them currently as the second lowest ranked team in that system for the season (Jacksonville is 252nd). Purdue will share a total of three opponents with the Eagles as they will also play Indiana and Penn State. With the background information out of the way...
Let’s get into it!
1 | Make the Extra Pass on Offense
This should be a game that Purdue wins by 25 or more if they simply do the right things on offense. One thing that can tend to happen in games like this is guys will start to hunt their own shots instead of working on the things that can make them successful against a better opponent. Players can continue to work on those concepts simply by making the extra pass on offense and pass up good shots for great shots. That was something that Purdue showed a really good job of in their first game against Samford and one of the reasons why Purdue shot so well from outside.
Making the extra pass also forces more work from the defense and puts them into rotations that are hard to cover. In that case, it allows Zach Edey more opportunities in one on one situations in the post and guys like Cam Heide and Myles Colvin to attack the rim on the weak side. Those kinds of plays are the ones that will benefit Purdue the most as they move into more difficult opponents and help put opposing teams into foul trouble as they try to recover.
2 | Who Guards Riley Minix?
Through Morehead State’s first two games this season, Minix is averaging 18.5 points per game. 10 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He is clearly the primary scoring threat for the Eagles even though they have three other players that average double figures as well. Minix is a former NAIA All American from Southeastern who averaged 20.7 points per game and shot 40.8% from behind the arc in his four years there. Plainly put, the young man is a high level scorer and ball player. So who defends the 6’7 210 pound forward? That’s an interesting question and it depends largely on who the Eagles start.
Purdue is likely to stick with the same starting line they used in their first game so that likely means Trey Kaufman-Renn will draw the assignment first. Morehead will likely roll out at least three starters who are very good shooters from the outside but if they don’t have a fourth out there, Purdue may put Lance Jones on Minix and have TKR defend the worst outside shooter in the lineup. The issue is that Morehead State would best be served by having Minix play the four and forcing TKR into defending him out to perimeter.
The positive for Purdue is that they have a multitude of options to solve that problem without giving up major issues one the offensive end. Purdue could simply substitute Mason Gillis into the game as a more athletic power forward or slide Ethan Morton at the four to provide even more athleticism and get another ball handler onto the court. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see Cam Heide defend Minix and play the four alongside Smith, Loyer, and Jones.
3 | Leverage the Size Advantage
Only two players stand taller than 6’9 and both players combine to play only 30 minutes per game. That’s going to leave a lot of advantages for Purdue rebounding the ball and should make reading over the top of double teams to find shooters for Edey relatively easy. Leveraging that advantage into an overwhelming piece of the game is important.
Edey is likely to face double and triple teams again and there are a few ways to combat that. It would probably be in his best interest to either catch and make a quick move to score over the top of a defender before the double team can get there or to be patient and allow the double team to get to him and make a good pass to an open shooter. This is a game though that Purdue’s front line should dominate on the glass as Morehead State as they were outrebounded by the Crimson Tide by 10 and gave up 12 offensive rebounds.
The issue is that Purdue has a history of not taking the advantages they have and using to their more beneficial, as seen in loses in the NCAAT over the previous three seasons. Although Morehead State isn’t likely a very good team this will be a great judge in terms of giving Purdue a chance to see a similar kind of opponent that has ended their season the previous three years.
And 1 | Playing Connected as a Team Defensively Against a Smaller Lineup
Again, something that Purdue has obviously struggled with over the last few seasons and this team is going to present some of those things. Morehead State has the capability to string together spurts of hitting shots from behind the arc and have some talented players like Riley Minix that can score the ball. Purdue needs to play a focused brand of basketball that sees them communicating well and executing their defensive principals to a level that doesn’t see players defending in ways that leave the rest of the team out of position.
Coach Painter referenced this in his post-game comments after the exhibition against Grace College where he spoke about not fully preparing for those exhibitions so that the staff could see players simply using their defensive principals to play. Are players defending the pick and roll or pick and pop correctly? Are they getting into proper help side position? Are they doubling in the post when they should? Are they in the correct position to prevent run outs after a shot is taken on offense? Those are things that can be improved upon no matter who the opponent is.
Key Players for the Morehead State Eagles:
Riley Minix | Forward | 5th | 6’7 230lb | 18.5ppg, 10 rbs, 3.5 ast, 3 stl
Minix is the Eagles best overall player after a stellar career at NAIA program Southeastern and the 6’7 forward can be a matchup issue for a lot of programs given his size and ability to score. He’ll provide a good test for Purdue’s wings early in the season as the Boilers games ramp up with Xavier and Gonzaga coming up next.
Eddie Ricks | Forward | Freshman | 6’7 205lb | 12ppg, 6rbs, 1 ast, 1 stl, 2 blk
Eddie Ricks is the first man off the bench for the Eagles and has played an average of 27 minutes per game. Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t slide into the starting lineup for Morehead State given the size Purdue brings to the floor this season. Just a freshman, Ricks is another talented forward for a mid-major program favored to win their league.
This is great scheduling by the Boilers as they will get a chance to play an opponent who have three common opponents with them in Alabama, Northwestern, and Indiana. Morehead State is favored to win the Ohio Valley Conference but that conference is not as strong as it has traditionally been. That being said, this is a talented enough team to give Purdue so issues if they don’t play focused and cohesive. That might have been an issue at times last year but this squad seems to have a better focus and edge about it. Ultimately, the Boilers likely win this one going away and the walk-ons get some more extended minutes on the floor.
Morehead State: 60