Butler-Purdue Preview

Purdue has dominated its way to its best start in six years, and the ninth-ranked Boilermakers have been especially impressive defensively.

They're about to face their toughest test yet against No. 17 Butler.

Purdue's attempt at a 12-0 record will require slowing down the high-scoring Bulldogs and beating them for the first time in five tries Saturday at the Crossroad Classic in Indianapolis.

The Boilermakers (11-0) are outscoring opponents by an average of 25.9 points while winning each game by at least 12. They're unbeaten this far into a season for the first time since going 14-0 in 2009-10.

Purdue's current run has been buoyed by stingy defense, yielding the lowest shooting percentage (33.3) in the country while its 57.5 points allowed ranks eighth.

The Boilermakers were dominant in every facet in last Saturday's 95-64 rout of Youngstown State. They collected 26 assists on 33 field goals, outrebounded the Penguins 44-29 and had a 40-20 scoring edge in the paint.

"Good passes into the post means a great deal for us," said guard Rapheal Davis, who had 13 points. "You've always got four skill guys out there who can make plays. Any way we can get the ball inside, we have guys who can do it. We have guys who can pass, catch and shoot."

In particular, Purdue has a pair of 7-footers at center in Isaac Haas and A.J. Hammons. Haas leads the team with 13.5 points per game and Hammons is second at 12.6 despite being used exclusively as a reserve.

"I don't think we've played a team with two 7-footers on the front line, so I think we're going to have to game plan specific things to prepare for that kind of size," Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. "You can get overwhelmed with their size and they're certainly elite at finishing around the rim and getting the ball inside."

Scoring isn't a problem for the Bulldogs (8-1), who are second in the nation with 91.7 points per game and eighth with a 51.4 shooting percentage.

They only shot 46.8 percent last Saturday but connected for 10 3s for a second straight game in their fifth consecutive win, 94-86 over Tennessee.

Kelan Martin is looking to continue his terrific stretch. The reserve forward is averaging 23.0 points on 64.3 percent from the field - 7 of 12 from beyond the arc - over the last three games after scoring 25 points with 11 rebounds and a career-high five 3-pointers against the Volunteers.

Kellen Dunham averages a team-best 19.1 per game, but he only had 12 points while missing 10 of 13 from the floor last Saturday. The guard scored 25 in a 76-70 win over Purdue on Dec. 14, 2013.

The Boilermakers' P.J. Thompson will be available to play and will reportedly wear a protective mask after suffering a cut under his right eye just three minutes into the win against Youngstown State. The starting guard didn't return and needed 14 stitches to close the cut.

While this is Purdue's first matchup of the season against a ranked opponent, Butler won 78-76 on the road over then-No. 17 Cincinnati on Dec. 2.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.