Previewing the Purdue Boilermakers

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Kocorowski

Coming off a 14-point home win over Nebraska earlier this week, the Wisconsin Badgers hope to secure another road win at a tough Big Ten venue when it travels to Purdue for a Friday night conference contest.

Wisconsin (12-7 overall, 5-3 Big Ten) trails in the all-time series to Purdue by a 71-109 margin. In West Lafayette, however, UW fares far worse (18-71). Dissecting the record even further, the Badgers have not won inside Mackey Arena since Jan. 25, 2014 and are 4-40 overall in that specific venue.

However, Purdue (10-9, 3-5) has lost four of five games heading into the conference clash. That includes its most recent 79-62 defeat at home at the hands of Illinois on Tuesday night.

Here are some key stats and players to watch for head coach Matt Painter's team. Assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft provided some insight as well.

Purdue Rankings, Stats

  • AP Ranking: N/A
  • KenPom Ranking (as of Jan. 23): No. 30 (No. 72 adjusted offensive efficiency, No. 14 adjusted defensive efficiency)
  • NCAA NET Ranking (as of Jan. 23): No. 46
Stats
Purdue
Purdue's Opponents

Points Per Game

67.6

60.5

Field Goal Percentage

41.4

40.3

Three-Point Percentage

32.8

28.0

Free Throw Percentage

66.0

69.5

Rebounds Per Game

37.2

33.8

Assists Per Game

13.6

12.6

Turnovers Per Game

11.4

14.4

Steals Per Game

6.5

5.0

Blocks Per Game

3.6

3.8

On the offensive side of the ball, it appears Purdue has struggled at times this season. It ranks 11th out of 14 Big Ten teams in assists, 12th in scoring offense, 12th in free throw percentage and 13th in field goal percentage. However, they do rank second in offensive rebounds per contest (13.0)

That being said, the Boilermakers have performed well on the other side of the floor outside of defensive rebounding (last in the conference at 24.2 per game). They rank second in the Big Ten in scoring defense, first in three-point percentage defense, and first in turnover margin (+3.1). 

According to Krabbenhoft, what stands out about Purdue on the defensive end can be traced back to the same thing that has always made the program successful -- playing "extremely hard."

"They don't waver, and their intensity, that competitive spirit, all those things are at an all-time high when you play Purdue," Krabbenhoft said. "If you can go toe-for-toe with Purdue for 40 minutes, win or lose, you've done a good job because the intensity of which they play with has always been high. This team probably, maybe even more so than ever because they understand that maybe there isn't a Carsen Edwards or a (Ryan) Cline -- and not to take anything away from some of those guys because they all have the ability and have shown it to score in bunches -- but they understand that Carsen ain't coming in and scoring 40 right away. You know, bang, bang, bang. 

"So the defensive focus has been really, really good and that's why the numbers are good. But again, that's what's always made them good. Offensively when they find their rhythm, man, they're a load because they have great actions. They touch the post, they got shooters, they got drivers. They got it all. They're just putting it together in pieces. Everybody's had their ups and downs in that. We certainly have so we're preparing to play one of the better teams in the Big Ten."

Players to Watch

At least eight players average 19.2 minutes per game with five bringing in at least 9.2 points per contest.

Sophomore forward Trevion Williams leads the team in scoring (11.3 points per game) and rebounding (7.5 per game). Though he has converted just 44.4% of his free throw attempts, he shoots 56.8% from the field and has only attempted four three-pointers in 19 contests. He set career highs for points (36) and rebounds (20) in a double-overtime loss to Michigan in early January.

Fellow big man, 7'3 junior center Matt Haarms, averages 10 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest in 17 games (13 starts). Krabbenhoft believes Wisconsin has to be ready for a battle on the inside.

"Both of those guys are veterans and experienced and have experienced success and understood what it takes to play down low in the Big Ten," Krabbenhoft said. "They're a load. They play well off each other at times ... give each other a rest. It's as good a big combo as there is in the Big Ten. 

"There's a lot of them in the Big Ten. We got two guys that complement each other pretty well, too, so just we better be ready for a fight and last man standing wins."

Guards Eric Hunter, Jr. and Sasha Stefanovic can light it up from three-point range (40% and 39.6%, respectively). The former ranks second behind Williams in scoring (10.5 points per game) and shoots about 41.4% from the field overall. The latter scores just under 10 points per contest.

Grad transfer guard Jahad Proctor averages 9.2 points per game and has attempted the second-most free throws on the team, making 76% of them. Nojel Eastern has contributed 5.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, but the junior guard has scored 14 points each in Purdue's past two contests against Maryland and Illinois.

Comments