Purdue wiped away the sting from two disappointing losses and avoided its first three-game non-conference losing streak in three years with a decisive victory over then-No.4 Arizona in the seventh-place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday. The Boilermakers will get another chance against a top-tier team when No. 17 Louisville hits the road for the first time this season in Tuesday’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Purdue romped to victories in its first four games by a combined 157 points while averaging 102 points but were taken down by Tennessee 78-75 in overtime in the first game in the Bahamas before being shocked 77-73 by Western Kentucky in the next round, getting outrebounded in each contest and shooting under 40 percent from the floor overall. The Boilermakers recovered nicely against the Wildcats, shooting 57 percent and draining 11-of-22 shots beyond the arc in the 89-64 victory - their second-largest margin of victory against a ranked foe in school history. “It’s good that they were resilient and they bounced back and they won a game,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “But I don’t think it answers what happened in the other two games. The other two games, we didn’t make shots. You have to be able to win versus good people when the ball doesn’t go in.” The Cardinals, who opened the season with wins over George Mason, Omaha and Southern Illinois, survived a scare against St. Francis (Pa.) on Friday when junior Ray Spalding left in the second half with an ankle injury, and a 22-point lead was whittled to eight in the 84-72 triumph.
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ABOUT LOUISVILLE (4-0): The 6-10 Spalding, who is questionable for Purdue, matched his career high with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting and set new personal best with 13 rebounds and five blocks in just 26 minutes against the Red Flash. Seniors Quentin Snider (8.3 points, four assists per game), Anas Mahmoud (7.5 points, 7.8 rebounds), Spalding (12 points, 9.3 rebounds) and fellow junior Deng Adel (team-high 17.5 points) will be counted on heavily when the team plays its first road contest. “It’s going to be an eye-opening experience for the young guys just because they’ve never done it before,” Louisville interim coach David Padgett told reporters. “It’s going to be welcome to the jungle a little bit because there are not many places in college basketball that are tougher to play in than Purdue.”
ABOUT PURDUE (5-2): The play of wing Dakota Mathias, who had 24 points, five rebounds, six assists and played tenacious defense on Allonzo Trier (eight points on 3-of-10 shooting after the Wildcats’ guard averaged 27.8 points entering the contest) was key in the Boilermakers’ win over Arizona. Guard Carsen Edwards, who tallied 22 points and made 5-of-9 3-pointers in the win, leads the team in scoring at 18 points per contest while shooting 50 percent from the floor. Mathias is averaging 16.1 points and has connected on 20-of-35 shots beyond the arc, Isaac Haas chips in 14.4 points on 64 percent shooting and forward Vincent Edwards averages 14 points, a team-high nine rebounds and three assists.
1. Louisville won last year’s matchup 71-64, but Purdue leads the all-time series 11-6.
2. The Cardinals have opened with a 4-0 record in nine consecutive seasons.
3. Purdue C Matt Harms, a 7-3 center, has blocked 21 shots in just 125 minutes this season, including several against Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, a 7-1 freshman considered to be a potential overall No.1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
PREDICTION: Purdue 87, Louisville 81