December 11, 2015

A big reason for Purdue's best start in six seasons has been Caleb Swanigan's strong beginning to his collegiate career.

In a final tune-up before their schedule gets much tougher, Swanigan and the No. 11 Boilermakers try to improve to 11-0 on Saturday against visiting Youngstown State.

Averaging a Big Ten-high 9.6 rebounds, the prized freshman has fit right in with a talented Purdue squad that's off to its best start since going 14-0 in 2009-10. The 6-foot-9, 250-pound McDonald's All-American from Fort Wayne nicknamed "Biggie," Swanigan had a season-high 19 points - 10.7 more than his average coming in - and pulled down 12 rebounds in Wednesday's 93-55 rout of Howard.

Swanigan's four double-doubles already are the most by a Purdue freshman since Russell Cross had seven in 1980-81.

''He has been playing really well,'' teammate P.J. Thompson said. ''I kind of think people forget he is a freshman, even though he is a highly touted freshman and a high school All-American."

Swanigan has totaled 26 rebounds in the last two games but isn't just a player who does all of his work inside. He's made nine 3-pointers and is fourth on the team with 2.4 assists per game.

''His instincts are great,'' coach Matt Painter said. ''He just makes really good decisions and doesn't force things. He has an excellent basketball IQ.''

Swanigan is one of six Boilermakers averaging at least 9.1 points and is joined by 7-2 Isaac Haas (13.6 ppg) and 7-footer A.J. Hammons (12.3) to make up one of the more imposing frontlines in the nation.

As for the backcourt, reserve Kendall Stephens has hit seven 3-pointers in the past two games while totaling 27 points, and the versatile Rapheal Davis scored 10 on Wednesday in his return after missing four games with a sprained knee.

The Boilermakers have averaged 82.2 points and allowed 56.9 per game while becoming the first team in school history to win 10 straight games by at least 10 points. However, they're hardly satisfied.

"We've got to keep growing in every aspect of the game," said Davis, who averages 11.3 points on 53.2 percent shooting.

That's especially true with No. 18 Butler waiting in Indianapolis next weekend and a home date with 21st-ranked Vanderbilt to follow before the Boilermakers visit Wisconsin to open conference play Dec. 29.

Purdue first tries for a 14th straight home victory when it faces a Youngstown State team which hasn't beaten a ranked opponent since knocking off 19th-ranked La Salle in 1952. The Penguins (4-5) haven't even faced one since 2010.

These teams' only meeting was a Boilermakers win Dec. 17, 1983.

Forward Bobby Hain (15.2 ppg) and guard Cameron Morse (15.1) lead four Penguins averaging in double figures. However, the pair combined for 20 as Youngstown State blew a 10-point halftime lead in its most recent contest, a 60-56 loss to American University last Friday.

"I don't think we played with much intensity," coach Jerry Slocum said. "I don't think we played with focus and ... mental toughness. With what we have coming up, it's very disappointing."

You May Like