Purdue (5-0, 0-0) vs Oklahoma State (5-0, 0-0)
12:00 PM EST
Line: Oklahoma State -13.5
Series Record: 1-0 Oklahoma State
Last Meeting: 67-48 Oklahoma State (1991)
Blog Representation: Hammer and Rails | Cowboys Ride for Free
Revenge for the Heart of Dallas Bowl?
The Purdue Boilermakers and Oklahoma State Cowboys have only faced each other once, way back in 1991 when I was a ripe two years of age, so a decent number of fans have no recollection of either team playing each other. Of course plenty of Purdue fans, myself included, have the misfortune of remembering the Heart of Dallas Bowl where the BCS trickle down effect of Northern Illinois getting in (and bumping out Oklahoma) led us to facing the Cowboys over a much more comparable Iowa State. The end result? Not pretty, not at all.
So of course with that game still slightly on the mind, I'm sure many Purdue fans would take a basketball win here as some form of retribution against Oklahoma State. Unfortunately for Purdue, Oklahoma State is very, very good. Very good as in top 5 in the nation, led by one of the best players in the nation in Marcus Smart and scoring over 100 points per game. So far Oklahoma State has been trailing for a little over five minutes in their 200 minutes of action, all while having a better schedule than Purdue. Their closest game? A 21 point win over Memphis. This of course while Purdue has eeked out wins versus Northern Kentucky, Rider and Siena...yikes.
So if Purdue wants to win, or have any chance here, they'll need to find a way to make a colossal defensive improvement for this game. Heading into today, Oklahoma State ranks 19th for field goal percentage and 4th when it comes to three pointers. Simply put, the team can score. Led by Marcus Smart and his 21+ points per game, this Oklahoma State team has an offense as deadly as their football teams impressive offense. If Smart can be contained it could be relatively meaningless when you consider what Markel Brown, Phil Forte, Le'Bryan Nash and Brian Williams have been capable of doing. Oklahoma State can score from all over, plays strong defense and limits turnovers...not exactly promising for the Boilermakers.
What does Purdue have to do to win? Well first off they need to control the pace and step up their defensive effort. If Purdue can slow down the game and play a more Big Ten, physical style of play, it'll greatly diminish the number of possessions the Cowboys have. Mix the slower game pace with a strong defensive outing and Purdue could try to significantly decrease the number of points Oklahoma State scores. This will be key as Purdue's offense, while improved, will likely stutter versus a stronger defense. If Purdue gives up points in bunches and this turns into a shootout, one has to wonder if Purdue can keep throwing punches for the duration of the game.
Scoring will be the other key for Purdue. Obvious, yes I know, but Purdue will need to find ways to score from outside. Three pointers can be lead to momentum swings and if Purdue can hit shots when necessary from deep, it'd be key to helping them pull off the upset. One major area of concern is free throws, with Purdue struggling so far this season. if they don't capitalize on free points then this game will be a loss, regardless of how well the team plays elsewhere on the court. Look for the Boilermakers to hope they can have a big day from the Johnson brothers and A.J. Hammons, with the trio needing to play their tails off if Purdue wants to compete here.
Purdue does benefit a hair from the game not being in Oklahoma (neutral site game in Florida) and the team not having Stevie Clark, though it may not be enough for the Boilermakers. We could see a lot of what Purdue will bring to the Big Ten slate this season today, or we could see an overmatched team become overwhelmed and do little on the national stage. It's hard to read into what this game will ultimately mean for Purdue, but it's still going to be one of the most difficult games of the season for Matt Painter and company.
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