Time to get some insights from our SB Nation brethren and find out about Purdue. This time it's Travis Miller from Hammer and Rails.
WVUIE97: Purdue comes into this game with 3 losses, all on the road (neutral court, but...whatever). Does this being a road game worry you at all (even with the likely less than stellar atmosphere)?
Travis: The game being a road game is a concern, but mostly West Virginia being a quality opponent worries me. Purdue has only played four games against teams from major conferences and looked good in just one of them: Boston College. The two games against Oklahoma State and Washington State, which were losses, are a microcosm of the season. The Boilers will look great one moment and then awful the next. In both of those games they combined one good half with one awful half to equal a loss.
This is Purdue's last chance to get anything out of a rather weak non-conference schedule. Lose, and the Boilers are likely looking at a minimum 12-6 record in Big Ten play to reach the NCAAs.
WVUIE97: Looking at the Boilermaker statistics, I see 10 guys averaging over 10 minutes per game. Is this a product of the schedule and several of the blowouts that Purdue has had or should we expect to see a deep bench with high participation this weekend?
Travis: I would expect a deep bench. Purdue only has 11 scholarship players and has been playing almost all of them with Travis Carroll (we call him Tacos because someone's phone autocorrected to that two years ago and it stuck) getting the fewest minutes as one of only two four year players on the team.
Purdue is at its best when it gets balance from all 10 guys. The Johnson brothers (Ronnie and Terone) often do most of the scoring, but freshmen Kendall Stephens and Bryson Scott have each had big games. Pretty much any one of the 10 regular guys can have a game where they hit double figures. I like that because it makes things difficult for opponents if Purdue is moving without the basketball. If it is standing around waiting for one of the Johnson brothers to drive, it is in trouble.
WVUIE97: With that many guys getting minutes, there are only 3 guys averaging in double figures. Who do you feel is Purdue's "go-to" scorer and what do you expect from him on Sunday?
Travis: Senior Terone Johnson has been the most consistent scorer and has been up and down like Purdue of late. His game against Butler on Saturday had a good line of 20-6-4, but he also had 6 turnovers and tried to do a little too much by himself. That has been the story of his career, however.
Purdue plays its best basketball when A.J. Hammons is dominant int he post on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, he has struggled a bit this year and even Jay Simpson has been starting over him recently. Much of his game depends on how well Purdue spreads the floor for him. Sterling Carter and Kendall Stephens are two long range shooters that help things out and weren't there last year, but again, this team is so up and down it is hard to say who will have a good game.
WVUIE97: You've got a couple of really big guys in your front court and a fairly tall guard in Johnson. How does that play into the style Purdue will go with? Can we expect to see more up tempo stuff or more half-court sets?
Travis: Against Butler we tried to get up tempo more and we played well in transition, but this team is often feast or famine in the halfcourt. If all five guys are moving, setting screens, cutting to the basket, etc, it looks good. Sometimes they seize up when faced with a zone and play "pass the ball around the perimeter before taking a dumb shot" It's frustrating because as Purdue fans, we see a clear difference win this team is looking good and when it is not. That difference is effort and movement in the offense. The two Johnsons and Bryson Scott are great on the drive, but they can border on reckless too.
Mostly, Purdue cannot be complacent.
WVUIE97: Your seven-footer has 39 blocks so far. What would be the best way for WVU to counter his shot blocking ability?
Travis: Hammons sometimes can get in foul trouble and when he does, he becomes less aggressive. Lately he has been less of a factor than he was at the start of the season. Sometimes he falls for the extra pass if you can get him in the air. Also, Purdue's perimeter defense has been lacking at times too, so if you can hit from the outside it will open things up.
WVUIE97: How do you see the game playing out?
Travis: It really depends on which Purdue team shows up. They looked great against Boston College but flat out awful against Washington State. Neither would surprise me.