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No. 25 Rutgers men’s basketball game preview vs. Purdue

How to watch, stats, and keys to victory.

Nebraska v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Purdue (11-9; 4-5) at No. 25 Rutgers (15-5; 6-3)

How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes

Where: The RAC in Piscataway, New Jersey (Alternate Traffic Pattern)

Tip-off: Tuesday, January 28th at 8:00 p.m. ET.

TV: BTN - Dave Revsine and Seth Davis

Stream: Fox Sports App

Radio: Live Listen - Rutgers Sports Properties Radio Network - WCTC 1450 AM/WOR 710 AM/XM 372; Chris Carlin & Joe Boylan; WRSU 88.7 FM - Justin Sontupe and Chris Tsakonas

KenPom Rankings: Rutgers 26th: Purdue 23rd; Rutgers dropped 2 spots since Saturday’s win over Nebraska. Purdue moved up 8 spots since Friday’s win over Wisconsin.

Efficiency Rankings: Rutgers - Offense 107.2 (87th) Defense 89.7 (9th); Purdue - Offense 108.2 (71st) Defense 89.8 (11th)

KenPom Prediction: Rutgers 61 Purdue 58. Rutgers is given a 60% chance to win.

OTB Guide to KenPom

Vegas Line: Rutgers -3.5

Series History: Purdue leads the all-time series 12-1, including an 89-54 victory in West Lafayette, Indiana on January 15, 2019 in the last meeting. Rutgers has never beaten Purdue as a member of the Big Ten and its only win came during the 1975-1976 Final Four season.

SB Nation’s Purdue Site: Hammer & Rails

Q&A with Hammer & Rails

Podcast with Jerry Carino

Key Contributors

Purdue - 6’9” sophomore Trevion Williams (11.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 56.6 FG%); 6’4” sophomore Eric Hunter Jr. (10.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 39.7 3-pt FG%); 7’3” junior Matt Haarms (10.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.1 blocks; 55.2 FG%); 6’4” sophomore Sasha Stefanovic (9.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 39.4 FG%); 6’3” senior Jahaad Proctor (8.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.1 steals); 6’7” junior Nojel Eastern (5.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals); 6’1” freshman Isaiah Thompson (5.4 points, 1.1 rebounds); 6’8” senior Evan Boudreaux (4.1 points, 3.3 rebounds); 6’9” sophomore Aaron Wheeler (3.9 points, 5.1 rebounds)

Rutgers - 6’6” sophomore Ron Harper Jr. (12.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 steal); 6’4” junior Geo Baker (10.0points, 3.7 assists, 2.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals); 6’6” senior Akwasi Yeboah (10.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 38.2 3-pt FG%); 6’10” sophomore Myles Johnson (9.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 68.9 FG%); 6’2” junior Jacob Young (8.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists); 6’7” sophomore Caleb McConnell (7.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steal, 36.8 3-pt FG%); 6’4” sophomore Montez Mathis (7.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.0 steals); 6’6” freshman Paul Mulcahy (3.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 57.7 FG%); 6’9” senior Shaq Carter (3.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 58.5 FG%)

Purdue Scouting Report

The Boilermakers are having a different type of season under fifteenth year head coach Matt Painter after losing seniors Carsen Edwards and Ryan Cline to graduation. The Boilermakers aren’t nearly as dangerous an offensive team as they’ve been in recent seasons. They are currently the least efficient team offensively in Big Ten play, but they continue to be strong defensively and are fourth in efficiency in conference play.

As usual, Purdue has a lot of size in the interior and lead the Big Ten with over 13 offensive rebounds per contest, while leading the conference in scoring defense (60.0 points per game). Trevion Williams and Matt Haarms are good rim defenders, while Eric Hunter Jr. and Sasha Stefanovic are snipers from behind the arc. The issue this team has had is consistency on offense and that’s hurt them on the road where they are 0-4 in Big Ten play.

The Boilermakers are averaging 67.7 points per game and are shooting just 41.6% from the field, despite a solid 33.4% from three-point range, and are shooting 66.3% from the foul line. They are 10-0 when shooting a better field goal percentage than its opponents. Purdue doesn’t turn it over much but have the top defensive turnover rate in Big Ten play (20.0%). As far as pace, the Boilermakers play at the slowest tempo in the conference (62.0).

Injury Report

Neither side has any major injuries entering this game.


As a team, Rutgers averages 71.7 points per game and is shooting 46.0% from the floor, 30.8% from three-point range, and 64.1% from the free throw line......The Scarlet Knights are 12th nationally in field goal percentage defense (37.2%), 16th in scoring defense (60.7) and in total rebounding (40.95), 17th in rebound margin (+7.7), 30th in blocks (4.8) and 31st in scoring margin (+11.0)......Rutgers is undefeated this season at the RAC (14-0), as well as when they score 15 or more fast break points (8-0).......RU has an RPI ranking of 22nd and a NET ranking of 23rd, which is used by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee to help determine the field of 68 at the end of the season....Rutgers is currently 9th in Big Ten play in offensive efficiency and 3rd in defensive efficiency.........The Scarlet Knights’ remaining schedule ranks 3rd nationally in difficulty per ESPN’s BPI.

Keys To Victory

Battle on offensive glass

Both teams play great defense and struggle shooting wise, so second chance points off of offensive rebounds will be a major factor in this game. Purdue is second in Big Ten play in offensive rebounding rate, while Rutgers is just 8th. Trevion Williams is an elite rebounder, but so is Myles Johnson, so whoever stays on the floor more and asserts control on the boards will give their team an upper hand. The key for Rutgers has always been rebounding as a group and I think they have wing players that can outplay Purdue.

Defensive awakening

Rotations need to be better, finding the shooters of Purdue along the perimeter, as well as tightening up driving lanes is crucial tonight. It will be interesting to see if Rutgers tries to deny entry passes into the paint to Haarms and Williams, who will be hard to contain the closer they are to the rim. Obviously limiting second chance scoring opportunities off the glass is a must. After two subpar defensive games, this is one Rutgers needs to get back into elite form and create havoc in the halfcourt for Purdue. Making them work late into the shot clock and take contested jumpers is the ideal result.

Speed things up

With the visitors preferring a slow pace, Rutgers has the athleticism to cause problems in transition. Defensive rebounding is key in the Scarlet Knights getting the break going, as Purdue rarely turns it over. RU needs strong guard play and to take advantage of scoring opportunities in transition. The more they can get the trees of Purdue up and down the court and away from the basket, the better. It will pay dividends down the stretch. Jacob Young’s quick step off the dribble, the passing of Paul Mulcahy, and the ability of Montez Mathis to run the floor all need to be factors in this game. It’s unlikely Rutgers will get many alley-oop opportunities in the halfcourt, so their best chance to do so is on the break.

Bench Play

Both teams play a rotation of nine and are pretty deep, so whichever bench plays better could decide the outcome of this game. Rutgers desperately needs a good game from Shaq Carter, both in providing scoring in the paint and on the defensive end. Expect Mamadou Doucoure to get some minutes as well, who has proven to be an able rebounder and defender in stretches. Of course, having Mulcahy and Young contribute on the offensive end is important as well. Their ability to penetrate and then kick out to shooters on the perimeter will be key, as scoring near the rim will be a difficult task with Williams and Haarms. Lastly, whether Geo Baker comes off the bench again or Caleb McConnell does, both need to provide complete performances that they are capable of producing.

Hunted vs. Hunter

This is huge in my opinion, as Rutgers needs to have a killer instinct tonight. This will be one of the hardest played games all season and after two consecutive slow starts at the RAC, they need to come out swinging from the opening tip. Purdue is not the offensive juggernaut they used to be and if Rutgers can put them in a deficit early, it puts more pressure on them and will lead to forced shots. Despite never beating Purdue before, Rutgers is the favorite in this game and is arguably the better team. However, they have to prove it and despite playing its fourth game in ten days, they need to dig deep and win the hustle plays to outlast a talented Purdue team.

Appropriate Music Selection

For the twenty-first game of the season, I’m featuring “Something Good Can Work” by Two Door Cinema Club. It was a recommendation by our Fred Gaudios and it works well with tonight’s game. The line “You gotta step up your game to make it to the top” and “We’re gonna show the world that something good can work” are the exact mindset this team needs coming into such a pivotal game. Rutgers has a tremendous opportunity to equal a program best seventh Big Ten regular season victory and its only at the midpoint of conference play. Holding serve at the RAC is crucial towards marching towards the NCAA Tournament. They play Purdue twice this season, so ensuring at least a split is very important. A strong start to get the RAC faithful into a tizzy and carry the momentum in what will be an old school, physical battle is key to winning this game.