Lehigh-Purdue Preview - Sports Illustrated

Lehigh-Purdue Preview

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A combination of good balance and quality depth has helped Purdue get off to a dominant start.

That formula likely won't change when the No. 16 Boilermakers try to remain undefeated by keeping visiting Lehigh winless Saturday night.

Purdue (5-0) has averaged 86.0 points, shot 50.5 percent and allowed one opponent to score more than 70 while winning each of its first five games by at least 15 points for the second time in school history. The Boilermakers, who won their first in-season tournament in six years with an 85-70 victory over previously unbeaten Florida in Sunday's title game of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, last opened with six straight wins during the 14-0 start of 2009-10.

"They play great team basketball," Florida forward Dorian Finney-Smith said.

While 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas (13.2 points per game), 7-foot top returning scorer and rebounder A.J. Hammons (11.0 ppg), 6-9 freshman Caleb Swanigan (10.2, 8.6 rebounds per game) and 6-8 Vince Edwards (10.8 ppg) make up perhaps the most imposing frontcourt in the nation, the Boilermakers also rank among the country's top 30 3-point shooting teams at 41.8 percent. They shot 32.7 percent to rank 239th last season.

Senior guard Rapheal Davis is averaging 11.6 points and shooting 53.8 percent, including 6 of 13 from beyond the arc. Sophomore reserve Dakota Mathias has hit half of his 18 3-point attempts, and backup point guard P.J. Thompson earned a spot on the all-tournament team last weekend after scoring 15 points against the Gators.

Six Purdue players average at least 9.8 points, eight have made a 3-pointer and four are pulling down five or more rebounds per contest.

''We've got a good group,'' said the 5-10 Thompson, who also had four assists and five rebounds against Florida. ''We've got bigs that are physical and fundamental. We've got good shooters that we can sub in no matter which one of them gets going that day.''

That doesn't bode well for Lehigh (0-5), which is off to its worst start since losing the first seven in 2001-02. The Mountain Hawks are shooting 39.2 percent, allowing 80.4 points per contest and coming off an 80-54 loss at No. 12 Virginia on Wednesday.

Though Lehigh shot 40.0 percent, committed 17 turnovers and allowed the Cavaliers to hit 52.3 percent of their shots, coach Brett Reed was pleased with the heart his team displayed.

"I was really so proud of our guys," he said. "You saw an effort, intensity and passion on display, scrambling to the ball. We were first to the basketball and chasing down long rebounds. We had the fight you really like to see."

Six-foot-10 junior Tim Kempton, whose father, Tim, played at Notre Dame and parts of eight seasons in the NBA, leads the Mountain Hawks with 16.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Lehigh, which stunned then-No. 8 Duke 75-70 in the second round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament, is playing two ranked teams during the regular season for the first time since 2005-06.

This is Lehigh's first meeting with Purdue, which is 36-1 at home in November during Matt Painter's 11 seasons as coach.