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Rutgers Men’s Basketball Game #16 Preview vs. Purdue

Includes how to watch, stats, & keys to victory

NCAA Basketball: Rutgers at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

How To Watch & Listen

Rutgers (10-5; 0-2) At #13 Purdue (13-2; 2-0)

Where: West Lafayette, Indiana - Mackey Arena (14,804)

Tip-off: Wednesday, January 3rd at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: BTN - Brandon Gaudin and Stephen Bardo

Stream: BTN2GO

Radio: WCTC 1450 AM & WOR 710 AM - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM

KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #121; Purdue #3

(Note: Rutgers dropped 22 spots since the 2 point loss to Hartford)

KenPom Prediction: Purdue 78 Rutgers 59; Rutgers has an 4% chance to win

Vegas Line: Purdue -19.5

Series History: Purdue leads 8-1 all-time, including 4-0 in Big Ten play

SB Nation Purdue site: Hammer & Rails

About Purdue

The Boilermakers pretty much do everything well and this is an extremely difficult matchup for Rutgers. Purdue has quality wins over Butler, Arizona, Louisville, and Marquette. In addition, they opened Big Ten play with five point victories over Maryland and Northwestern. Like Rutgers, they’ve only played twice in the past two and a half weeks, so they will be well rested.

Purdue is a tremendous shooting team, as they average 50.7% from the field, 41.4% from three-point range, and 75.4% from the free throw line. The Boilermakers share the basketball well and are very balanced on offense, with four players averaging between 13 and 18 points per game. They have multiple shooters who can cause damage behind the arc and average 9.6 made three-pointers per game.

The Boilermakers have lots of size in the paint as well with 7-footers Isaac Hass and Dutchman Matt Haarms. They make it difficult to score inside, as they have the 20th best block rate in the country at 15.7%. They are also 5th per KenPom in 2-point defense, holding opponents to just 40.7% shooting. While they are slightly above average in forcing turnovers, they protect the basketball very well on offense, as they have the 37th best turnover rate in Division I.

Here are per game statistical averages for key players on Purdue:

6’1” sophomore guard Carsen Edwards - 17.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.9 steals

7’2” senior center Isaac Haas - 14.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 blocks

6’8” senior forward Vince Edwards - 13.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.9 blocks

6’4” senior guard Dakota Mathias - 13.5 points, 4.9 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals

5’10” senior guard P.J. Thompson - 9.1 points, 2.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 1.7 steals

7’3” freshman center Matt Haarms - 5.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 blocks

Know Your Three-Point Shooters:

P.J. Thompson - 30 of 60 for 50%

Dakota Mathias - 38 of 84 for 45.2%

Vince Edwards - 21 of 52 for 40.4%

Ryan Cline - 18 of 46 for 39.1%

Carsen Edwards - 31 of 84 for 36.9%

Rutgers Notes:

The Scarlet Knights will face its third ranked opponent in Big Ten play in as many games to open conference play.The last road win over a ranked team for Rutgers came when they defeated #13 Pittsburgh by the score of 77-64 on Jan. 26, 2008. Rutgers is ranked second in Division I in offensive rebounding (15.9) and third in overall rebounding (44.6). They are also fourth in scoring defense (59.5 ppg) and seventh in FG% defense (36.9%).

Keys To Victory

Regain Identity

Rutgers has to get back to what made them such a difficult opponent against Florida State, Michigan State and Seton Hall. Stifling defense and relentless effort on the glass is why Rutgers was able to be so competitive in those games and they'll need to do the same against Purdue to have any chance tonight. In the past two games, Deshawn Freeman has struggled offensively and hasn't been as active of a rebounder, which also can be said of Eugene Omoruyi. Those two guys in particular, need to bring energy and attitude on the floor tonight for Rutgers to make this a game. Both of them will need to contain Vince Edwards on offense as well. The defense of Mamadou Doucoure, Shaq Doorson, and Candido Sa on Haas and Haarms will be key also. Purdue will look to establish the paint to open up looks on the perimeter, so Rutgers needs to be extremely active in its halfcourt defense.

Attack The Rim

The mentality of the backcourt is so important and if we see multiple jumpers of 12+ feet at the start of this game, it will be worrisome. The guards need to create offense through dribble penetration by attacking the rim and either taking shots near the basket or finding Freeman & Omoruyi in the paint. Dishing out to the wing for Issa Thiam and Geo is key too, but I'd like to see them attack from the perimeter initially unless they have open looks from behind the arc, which could come later in the game. Rutgers has lost it’s way on offense by getting caught up in one on one matchups against lesser competition. They need to work the Purdue defense in the halfcourt by swinging the ball around the perimeter and attack from the wings.

Be Aggressive

This is tied to my first two keys and it's a must for Rutgers to rekindle its identity in this game. The Boilermakers are a big team and in order to rebound in the paint, Rutgers needs to get a body on the trees of Purdue and box them out on every possession. Another aspect that's important, especially as heavy road underdogs, is getting to the foul line. When attacking the rim, the guards need to be able to draw contact and get to the foul line. Geo Baker, Mike Williams, and Corey Sanders are all shooting 75% or better from the charity stripe. They haven't been the issue for the team's struggles at the line and it would be a good way for them to get into rhythm offensively, as well as keep up with Purdue on the scoreboard.

Defend The Three

As mentioned above, Purdue has multiple shooters who are dangerous from three-point range and Rutgers needs to avoid allowing too many open looks tonight. Transition defense is key to this as well, as Purdue will look to the perimeter for shots off the break. In both of Purdue’s losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky, they had poor shooting nights, making just 33.3% of its 54 three-point attempts combined in those defeats. Stopping dribble penetration, which Purdue can create shots from behind the arc off of, is a big key as well.

Survive First Half

If Rutgers isn't ready to play from the opening tip, this is the type of game that could get out of hand quickly. Defensive intensity and efficient offense early on are a must for Rutgers to make this a battle on the road against the defending conference champions. Limiting Purdue in having 10-2 type runs is also key, as Rutgers simply isn't built to come back from a double digit deficit due to a lack of three-point shooters. The Boilermakers can score in bunches, averaging 87 points per contest, and Rutgers can’t have too many breakdowns defensively or they will pay dearly. The longer the Scarlet Knights can battle and keep it close, the more confidence they will gain as the game progresses.

In The Bonus

Purdue is a very difficult matchup for Rutgers and it will require the best played game of the season for them to win. It’s possible they can catch the Boilermakers asleep in this one, but Rutgers will need to execute as well as they have all year on offense and bring a similar defensive effort they produced against Michigan State, as well as Seton Hall down the stretch. The most important thing is that this team exhibit some fight and get back to its identity on defense and with rebounding. With a quick turnaround against Wisconsin at home on Friday night, the Big Ten gauntlet is officially in full swing. Anything less than tremendous effort from Rutgers and it could spell disaster tonight.