Keys to Purdue's Match-up with Xavier

By Drew Wooden

Purdue faces off with Xavier in Cincinnati, Ohio for its most difficult non-conference game of the season. This game will be a challenge for the Boilers because Xavier has a nice mixture of playmaking guards and size in the paint. Will Matt Painter’s squad stumble against the higher ranked Musketeers? Or will Purdue earn a very impressive road victory?

Here are the keys to the game:
  • Staying competitive on the glass. I don’t think Purdue will be able to outrebound Xavier, but they do have to keep it close. Allowing 7 footer Kenny Frease and company to create extra possessions with offensive rebounds is just too much to overcome when Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons are combining to average over 35 points per game.
  • That brings me to my next point. Can Kelsey Barlow, Lewis Jackson, Ryne Smith, and the Johnsons control Xavier’s scoring tandem of Holloway and Lyons? Jackson will likely matchup with Holloway and perhaps Barlow will guard Lyons. I don’t think this game is a great matchup for Ryne Smith on the defensive end, so we may see more of Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson rotate on either Lyons or Holloway. One thing is for sure — it won’t be easy to limit these two productive veteran guards.
  • Can Sandi Marcius effectively body up with Kenny Frease? Frease is massive (7-0 and 269 lbs), so Sandi Marcius may see more minutes in order to battle Frease down low. I think Marcius is strong enough to contain Frease, but he has to play smart and not foul easily (even if Frease is only hitting 21% of his free throws currently).
  • Jacob Lawson will probably be counted on heavily in this game as well. Xavier utilizes several athletic forwards, including 6-7 Andrew Walker who averages 6 rebounds/game and Travis Taylor who averages 6.8 rebounds/game. When Frease is out of the game, I expect to see Hummel and Lawson on the court together. Not to mention, 6-4/220 pound freshman Dezmine Wells is averaging nearly 10 ppg and grabbing 5 rebounds per game. These three players will be difficult match-ups for the Boilers and Lawson, Barlow, and Hummel will all be counted upon heavily.
  • Oh and that Robbie Hummel guy — we could use 35 minutes or more from him on Saturday. Hummel will be counted on heavily both on offense and defense, but this is nothing new for the fifth year senior.
  • Xavier has the athleticism and length to disrupt Purdue’s offense. It’s a good thing Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson have been playing great lately because we may need their scoring big time on Saturday. If Ryne Smith can’t find a way to get open and Lewis Jackson can’t find a way to drive to the basket, the Boilers will have to find more scoring options than our savior Robbie Hummel. And no, we don’t want to rely on outside shots from the players that Xavier will guard with space: Lewis Jackson, Kelsey Barlow, and DJ Byrd. Hopefully Matt Painter has some effective offensive sets to create the mismatches it can find against Xavier.
I think Purdue will at least keep this game close and has an outside chance of an upset. Xavier is certainly a tough team though and deserves to be the favorite at home.

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