Purdue-Pittsburgh Preview - Sports Illustrated

Purdue-Pittsburgh Preview

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Pittsburgh is one of college basketball's most unselfish teams with a highly productive offense.

Purdue is among the nation's best defensive squads and also features a major weapon with the country's leader in field-goal percentage.

The Panthers have won 31 straight regular-season home games against nonconference foes heading into Tuesday night's meeting with 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas and No. 11 Purdue in a Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup featuring unbeaten teams.

Pittsburgh (4-0) is second among major conference teams with 22.5 assists per game and a 2.20 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Panthers are averaging 89.3 points for one of the nation's best marks and finished with 26 assists on 31 baskets in Saturday's 85-76 win over Kent State.

''I like the passing,'' coach Jamie Dixon said. ''The shot selection was as good as it gets and the numbers certainly show that.''

Michael Young made his first six shots and scored a season-high 23 while James Robinson had 18 points and 10 assists.

The Panthers' attack will be tested by defensive-minded Purdue, which is limiting opponents to 31.9 percent shooting to rank second in Division I. The Boilermakers (6-0) are surrendering a Big Ten-best 57.3 points and average 6.7 blocks.

Haas blocks 2.3 shots per game to rank second in the conference, and he's shooting an astounding 75.6 percent to lead the nation. He scored 21 of his career-high 24 points in the second half of Saturday's 77-55 victory over Lehigh.

''Because this team has great camaraderie, it helps us share the ball and find the open man," Haas said. "If we continue to play like this, we can play deep into the NCAA Tournament.''

The Boilermakers played Saturday without Rapheal Davis, who is second on the team with 11.6 points per game and was out with a sprained knee. Davis is expected to play Tuesday, though Purdue will be prepared if he isn't able to provide much.

"We just gotta play to our strengths, obviously he's a big part of our team," coach Matt Painter said. "He's a two-way player, he helps us on both ends of the court. We don't need guys trying to do what he does, we need guys just to play to their strengths and be simple."

Dakota Mathias and P.J. Thompson made their first starts Saturday. Johnny Hill came off the bench for the first time and scored a season-high 13.

Purdue averages 84.5 points to rank second in the conference and may see Pitt use a zone defense to collapse on Haas. The Panthers used zone extensively in the second half Saturday.

"I think we're comfortable playing man, too," Robinson said. "Obviously we went to the zone for a good part of the second half especially, but I think around the two- or three-minute mark, we did go man and we held them from scoring as easy as they were in the first half."

Pitt has not lost at home in the regular season to a nonconference opponent since falling 59-54 to Wagner on Dec. 23, 2011.

Purdue has won six of 10 meetings, with the last coming in 1977.