Doesn’t get any easier in the Big Ten, as PSU tries to survive their toughest four game stretch in their Big Ten schedule (@ Wisconsin, Purdue, @ Minnesota, MSU). After coming up short in the Kohl Center, PSU will host the preseason favorite Purdue Boilermakers Tuesday night at 9 pm on the BTN.
Luckily for PSU, Purdue will be coming into this game ailing. But the bad news for PSU is that Purdue had all week to recover from their home loss to Illinois, while PSU will have to rebound quickly after the tough road loss. Chris Kramer, Robbie Hummel, and Nemanja Calasan are coming into the game dinged up and there are questions surrounding whether they’ll even play. Kramer has had this sprained foot problem for about 3 or 4 weeks now. He’s listed as questionable. Hummel has been on crutches all week and is listed as doubtful. He’s been fighting back problems ever since the Duke game. Calasan only played 6 minutes against Illinois and apparently suffered a freak weightroom injury. The only injury I’ve ever witnessed in a weightroom is kids dropping 45 lbs plates on their toes. He’s probably going to play but how healthy he really is is a mystery.
Purdue is nothing imposing offensively, especially if Robbie Hummel doesn’t play. Keaton Grant has struggled all season to find his jumper. He shot 44% from three last year while averaging 11.2 PPG. This season he’s only hitting 29.2% (21-71), while only scoring 7.9 PPG. Considering over 50% of his points come from behind the arc, he’s had a rough start to the season. E’Twaun Moore has struggled from behind the arc as well, but he’s versatile and has been productive inside the arc. He’s the Boilers’ leading scorer as he averages 14.6 PPG, up from 12.7 PPG his freshmen year. However, his 3 point percentage has dropped 11 points from 43.4% to 32.3% .
But Purdue doesn’t win with offense, they shut you down. Just ask Stephen Curry. They force teams to turn the ball over on 25.6% of their possessions. While they are averaging 70 possessions so far, that number is inflated with 2 OT games. They’re still a Big Ten team that wants to play a 60-65 possession halfcourt game. Battle and Pringle are great ballhandlers, but they will not have faced pressure anywhere near the intensity of what PU will bring to the BJC. This will be a great test for the duo and a good measuring stick for just how good they’ll be in conference. They have to perform, especially with Kramer ailing.
PSU has a big chance to steal one here. If PU held off Illinois last week, I’d be jumping all over PSU on this one. But Purdue didn’t win, and they’re facing a dreaded 0-2 start in the Big Ten. For a team that wants to win the title, that start’s not going to get it done. PSU, on the other hand, has had so many letdowns at home, it’s almost hard to believe there won’t be one tomorrow night. This game’s tough to predict, due to the uncertainty of Hummel and Kramer’s status. But if PSU can’t beat a Purdue team without two of their captains and without 2 of their 8 man rotation, at home no less, then doubts will start to creep into many PSU fans minds. This is a game PSU has to win. This league’s too tough to pass up on opportunities like this.
If Battle and Pringle can keep doing what they’ve been doing this season, I think PSU will win. If PSU can’t be effective from the perimeter and they turn the ball over, PU will win. This is a big game for PSU’s supporting cast to show that they can deliver. Brooks and Morrissey have to take some of the scoring load away from the Big 3. Also, PSU in recent years has been the team to regain your shooting touch against. We cannot allow Moore and Grant to get going from the outside.
PREDICTION: I’m going to be a homer and say PSU gets a big W. I love the resiliciency of our backcourt, and I think Jamelle Cornley’s going to have a big game, especially if Hummel’s not in the lineup. There’s still some doubt in my mind that PSU’s backcourt will be physically man-handled and PSU will lose an ugly game. But who needs doubt when there’s kool-aid. I’ll take PSU 62 Purdue 53 – as PSU continues their hot-shooting from the charity stripe down the stretch.
Also, I’m going to take Painter’s quote here seriously and say Hummel won’t play.
“Hopefully with some rest here, it can help him get back on the floor. But we’re going to make the best decisions for Rob. Right now, we just need to get him some rest and look at the big picture,” Painter said.
I would hope the big picture for Purdue would be getting healthy for the whole Big Ten season and not beating Penn State.