Opponents will face a tall order when they play No. 21 Purdue this season and Fairfield will be the next to experience the task when it visits the Boilermakers on Saturday. Matt Haarms, a 7-3 freshman forward from the Netherlands, joins 7-2 senior center Isaac Haas to form a tandem that has blocked 13 shots and made 25 of its 38 field-goal attempts this season while contributing to a 3-0 start that has seen Purdue average 100.7 points.
“When you have an advantage with your height and size, and you have skill level, (opponents are) in a predicament,’’ Boilermakers coach Matt Painter told reporters. Purdue also possesses an outside threat in sophomore guard Carsen Edwards (team-high 18.7 points per game), who is shooting 60 percent from the floor and is 7-for-15 from 3-point range while executing when the opposition double-teams down low. “Making the right decisions early on offense is really important for him,” Painter told reporters about Edwards, who averaged 10.3 points and shot 38.2 percent from the field as a freshman. The Stags, who were voted to finish fourth in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll, begin a stretch of seven straight games away from home after a 64-42 victory over Loyola (Md.) on Tuesday, and boast preseason MAAC Player of the Year Tyler Nelson.
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ABOUT FAIRFIELD (2-0): Nelson, a senior guard, scored 30 points in the season-opening 80-72 victory over Pennsylvania on Nov. 11 and is averaging 21 points, five rebounds and four assists. Junior forward Matija Milin - the Stags’ tallest player at 6-9 - recorded his third career double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) versus Loyola and has 27 points and 16 rebounds this season. Freshman Wassef Methnani (20 points, 15 rebounds this season) leads a strong continent of newcomers who combined to score 37 points versus Penn.
ABOUT PURDUE (3-0): Haas (15.3 points, 6.0 rebounds per game) and Haarms (9.0 and 5.0) are complemented down low by senior forward Vince Edwards (13.0 points, 8.3 rebounds), who recorded 15 and 12 in a 111-42 rout of Chicago State on Nov. 12. Senior point guard Dakota Mathias (team-high 4.3 assists) runs the show but can also call his own number as he averages 15.3 points. Junior forward Grady Eifert has 25 points and 11 rebounds this season after totaling 22 and 16 in his first two campaigns combined.
1. The Boilermakers are shooting 59 percent from the field, including 42.4 from 3-point range.
2. Purdue has 22 blocks this season led by Haarms’ eight and Haas’ five. It didn’t have 22 in 2016-17 until the 10th game.
3. Purdue is 11-0 versus MAAC teams while Fairfield is 1-14 against the Big Ten with a 92-77 victory over Northwestern in the 1976-77 season.
PREDICTION: Purdue 80, Fairfield 58