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Rutgers Men’s Basketball Game #25 Preview vs. Purdue

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Includes how to watch, stats, and what the Scarlet Knights need to do to keep it close

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 03 Rutgers at Purdue Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

How To Watch & Listen

#3 Purdue (22-2; 11-0) At Rutgers (12-12; 2-9)

Where: The RAC (capacity 8,000) NOTE: Game is Sold Out

Tip-off: Saturday, February 3rd at 4:00 p.m. ET

Traffic Info: If you are attending the game, check this traffic pattern change

TV: BTN - Kevin Kugler and Shon Morris

Stream: BTN2GO

Radio: WCTC 1450 AM, WOR 710 AM, Sirius/XM 83 - Jerry Recco & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM

KenPom Rankings: Rutgers #151; Purdue #3

(Note: Rutgers regressed 18 spots since the 31 point loss at Illinois)

KenPom Prediction: Purdue 73 Rutgers 58; Rutgers has an 8% chance to win

Vegas Line: Purdue -15.5

Series History: Purdue leads the all-time series 9-1, including a 82-51 win a month ago.

SB Nation Purdue site preview: Hammer & Rails

About Purdue

The Boilermakers have the third best offensive efficiency and thirteenth best defensive efficiency out of 351 Division I teams, per Kenpom. In Big Ten play, they have the best offensive efficiency and third best defensive efficiency. They are shooting a scorching 45.1% from three-point range in conference play, but have struggled in the past two games, making just 12 of 40 attempts for 30%.

Purdue do average 50.4% from the field overall and have shot below 50% from two-point range in just two of eleven Big Ten games this season. The Boilermakers share the basketball well and are very balanced on offense, with four players averaging between 12 and 17 points per game. They have multiple shooters who can cause damage behind the arc and average over 10 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, they are also 9th per KenPom in 2-point defense, holding opponents to just 43.1% shooting. They also have the 23rd best block rate in the country at 14.4%. While they are slightly above average in forcing turnovers, they protect the basketball very well on offense, as they have the 27th best turnover rate in Division I.

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

6’1” sophomore guard Carsen Edwards - 16.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals

6’8” senior forward Vince Edwards - 15.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists

7’2” senior center Isaac Haas - 14.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks

6’4” senior guard Dakota Mathias - 12.3 points, 4.6 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals

5’10” senior guard P.J. Thompson - 8.4 points, 2.0 assists, 1.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals

7’3” freshman center Matt Haarms - 5.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.6 blocks

6’6” junior guard Ryan Cline - 4.5 points, 2.1 assists, 2.0 rebounds

Know Your Three-Point Shooters:

P.J. Thompson - 45 of 92 for 48.9%

Dakota Mathias - 63 of 136 for 46.3%

Vince Edwards - 39 of 90 for 43.3%

Carsen Edwards - 57 of 140 for 40.7%

Ryan Cline - 31 of 70 for 39.7%

Rutgers Notes:

For Division I (351 teams), Rutgers is ranked fourthteenth in scoring defense (63.2 ppg), seventeenth in offensive rebounding (13.4), twenty-second in FG% defense (39.9%) twenty-seventh in rebounding (39.7), and thirtieth in turnover margin (3.4)..... Rutgers is 6-0 when holding opponents to 59 points or less this season.....Senior captain Mike Williams (ankle) and sophomore forward Eugene Omoruyi (knee) are both out indefinitely with injuries......In Big Ten play this season, Rutgers is currently ranked 14th in offensive efficiency and 7th in defensive efficiency. Through 24 regular season games overall, their offensive efficiency is ranked 304th out of 351 teams and the defense is ranked 17th per KenPom.....Rutgers has had the most difficult strength of schedule in Big Ten play through eleven games.

Steve Pikiell Pregame Quotes

On Purdue

“Offensively and defensively, they’re major problems. They have four seniors in the starting lineup, seems like they’ve been around for a long time. They’re on a 19 or 20 game win streak, a lot of games they’ve won in a row. This is as good a team as I’ve seen in the country. I’ve seen everybody, whether it be on TV or who we played. They have great chemistry, they shoot the ball at an unbelievable level, they have two of the best big guys in the conference. They pose many problems and they’re very veteran. They’ve been through the wars and Matt Painter’s done a really good job. They were really good last year and I think they’re really improved and I say that and they lost (Caleb) Biggie Swanigan, who was one of the best players int helage and I think they’re improved on that. Posed many problems. The RAC is sold-out, I’m excited about that. Our players will play hard and i’m hoping some new guys can step up and do some things and I think we have a better game plan the second time around against them, maybe some things we have to do this game that we didn’t do the first time. So that game film really helps us and we’ll dissect that in the next couple of days.”

“They have an unbelievable two big guys that can play and are really a problem around the basket. You will see, he’s as big a player probably (that’s ever) gone through these RAC doors. He’s huge and he makes every free throw too. He’s a big guy that makes free throws so you gotta decide how you’re gonna guard him and when you decide that then you gotta understand that they have the best shooters in the country around him. It’s certainly a challenging game, not just for us, it’s been challenging for everyone. If you look at their scorers, they are playing high, high level basketball. Again, these guys have been around. They are a veteran basketball team. Well-coached, good players at every position, good depth, two of the biggest guys in the country around the paint that can play. This isn’t one of those things you can take away A, B or C. They do a lot of things very well and we have to be on top of our game on every possession. And they cause a lot of fouls too. They get into your bench and their bench is probably better than a lot of benches in the league. With fouls, (it) generates you going into your bench a little bit deeper. Their bench is good too. (They) pose many problems, this good Purdue team. They’re talking about Final Fours out there and those kind of things. This team has a lot of pieces. They got the great backcourt, they got the great 3-point shooters, they got the post guys that can play against anybody. You’d be hard pressed to find teams that have all the weapons that they have in the country.”

On The Rebuild

“Every game in this league is just a different matchup. We obviously didn’t play well against Illinois and they played great. They shot the ball well to their credit. On their home court, they’ve played really well and they played really great against us and I think the adversity that we hit during that game, hopefully that’ll help us move forward here and we have to figure that out with less guys on our bench to do it. This is part of the challenge. When you’re picked 14th in a great league like we were picked, to get out of that position, you’ve got to work and you got it get some breaks and we haven’t seemed to have our share of those this year and that’s okay. That’s why I’m here. I’ve been through this before. We keep plugging, we keep recruiting. I was on the road all day yesterday with my staff and we’re going to have a great film session today, hopefully great practice, get some guys into the rotation who haven’t played and hopefully they’ll respond to that.”

“When you’re building a program sometimes there’s just different obstacles. You never know. It’s a long season. College basketball is long. You get these weird kind of (injuries). Mike’s was a weird injury and Eugene’s was weird, but bad. You get these kind of things and we really can’t afford any injuries to any of our guys. Gotta play through it. Once adversity hits you, there’s great opportunity too that comes from adversity. I’m hoping that some guys step up. Certainly not just those guys that I mentioned, but Geo’s gotta play better and Corey’s gotta and (Deshawn Freeman) and our veteran guys too. Mamadou (Doucoure). Those guys gotta step up too, a little bit, to make up for the energy that Eugene brought and Mike brought... so we gotta make up for some of those losses and those guys are capable of doing that.”

Video of the complete pre-game presser courtesy of our own Brian Fonseca, who covered the need for the bench of Rutgers to step up in this game and the rest of the season.

What To Watch For

I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the odds of Rutgers winning this game actually seem less than the 8% chance that KenPom currently lists. With Eugene Omoruyi now out for an extended period, on top of Mike Williams, Rutgers will be without their two toughest players on the roster, in addition to the 16.8 points and 8.9 rebounds they average combined. Regardless of who does fill in those additional minutes in their absences, Pikiell doesn’t have anyone on his bench who can match the skill sets of those two players. Facing Purdue a second time in a month is a steep enough challenge as it is, but despite a sold out RAC, Rutgers will need every break possible to keep this game close.

Contesting every three-point attempt by Purdue is key, as the Boilermakers made four wide open shots from behind the arc in the opening frame of the first meeting, essentially putting that game out of reach. While Purdue has struggled in their past two games from deep, they are too good a shooting team with too many weapons to stay cold for too long. Rutgers needs to do everything they can to make the Boilermakers work to get back on track.

Offensively, Rutgers has struggled significantly and need Corey Sanders to get back on track. Although Sanders has never been the most efficient scorer, he is mired in a major slump during this current four game losing streak, making just 12 of his 46 shots from the floor (26%) in those contests. As Dave White broke down in detail this week, opponents have utilized the pack line defense of late, taking away driving lanes that Sanders is so good at using to attack the rim. He and the rest of the backcourt and wings are settling for jump shots and other than the second half against Illinois with the issue no longer in doubt, they’ve shot a very poor percentage.

Rutgers has to use all hands on deck to scrap and battle in front of a sold out crowd at the RAC, hoping to feed off of the atmosphere and make every single possession that Purdue has the basketball a challenge. Rutgers needs to limit mistakes on both ends of the floor. Offensively, taking care of the basketball and generating points off of turnovers and in transition would be a positive development. The Scarlet Knights have committed a whopping 68 turnovers during the four game losing streak, after averaging just under 11 per contest entering that stretch. That hasn’t prevented them from producing a lot of takeaways from their opponents, who have turned it over 59 times during those four losses. They need to hold the edge in turnover margin and points off of turnovers to even keep this game close. Second chance points off of offensive rebounds will be key as well.

The longer Rutgers can maintain their composure and keep the home crowd in the game, the better. Sanders and Deshawn Freeman need to produce offensively, but Issa Thiam and Geo Baker need to catch fire from behind the arc to give Rutgers a chance as well. If anything, let’s hope this team gives a strong effort and does their best to not make it easy for Purdue, who are one of the most talented and versatile teams in the country. That’s probably the most realistic expectation there is in rooting for Rutgers in this game. After the worst performance of the season against Illinois, how this team responds is key for the rest of the season. The effort that this team puts forth in this matchup is important in the overall rebuild of this program and the culture Pikiell is cultivating.

In The Bonus

You have to love the return of a popular marking promotion from Rutgers, as for a second straight season, the age old battle within New Jersey continues between Taylor Ham and Pork Roll.