Purdue heads back to West Lafayette coming off another heart wrenching game Wednesday, but a game in which it won late, something it hasn't been able to say with consistency this season.
Even though it was a Big Ten road game and every game in the Big Ten is tough, Illinois (12-2, 1-0) comes in with a better team than Iowa and presents some serious problems for Purdue.
The game against the Hawkeyes was pretty up tempo for much of the game. The first half score was 45-39. If Purdue wants to win this game, it should refrain from going back-and-forth with what looks like a more athletic team in Illinois. Even though it looks like Purdue plays better sometimes when they play at a faster pace, Matt Painter realizes against more athletic teams that is not an option. More than anything it comes down to the defensive end. If Purdue can limit Illinois to playing in the half court and get them to work for their points, it would prove big for Purdue. When it doesn't stop the ball in transition and gives up easy layups on its own end, it looses control of the game. If Purdue can control the pace on the defensive end, there is no reason why painter wouldn't let the guys get out and run in transition offensively.
|Leonard will be tough for Purdue to match-up with|
Leonard will be a tough match-up for any Big Ten team this season, even Ohio State, but particularly for Purdue. With Sandi Macius out for the third straight game due to injury, Purdue is severely overmatched. Freshman Jacob Lawson is projected to start his third straight game and while extremely athletic, with Leonard coming in at 7' 1'', and Lawson at 6' 8'', that is a big problem. Purdue's frontline will be at a huge height disadvantage in this game.
What Purdue lacks in the frontcourt, it should be able to make up for in the backcourt. Illinois does have a good groups of guards with Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson and emerging scorer Joseph Bertrand, but they are prone to taking bad shots and turnover the ball quite a bit. Illinois had 21 turnovers in its loss against Missouri last week and Brandon Paul had 5 of them. If Purdue can step up its pressure defensively and knock down some shots around the perimeter, its backcourt should win out in this one.
|Hummel needs to shoot the ball more efficiently for Purdue to win|
In the end, with the game being played in Mackey (even though the students are gone), the upper hand goes to Purdue in a barnburner.
Prediction: Purdue 67, Illinois 64