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December 15, 2012

Preview: Notre Dame vs. Purdue

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Head coach: Matt Painter (8th year at Purdue) - 188-87 in ninth year as head coach: 164-82 in eighth year at Purdue, 25-5 in one year at Southern Illinois. Six straight NCAA tournament appearances at Purdue, including Sweet 16 trips in 2008-09/2009. Posted 55-14 mark in 2009-10/2010-11.

You should know: Notre Dame and Purdue have squared off 40 times with each team winning 20 times. This is just the second meeting since 1966 with the Irish claiming a 71-59 home victory in the 2004 NIT. From 1954-66, the Boilermakers won nine of 12 games against the Irish. The first game was played on Dec. 15, 1916. The first six games were played in West Lafayette - all Purdue victories. This is the 10th time Notre Dame and Purdue have played in Indianapolis. The last time was Dec. 27, 1960…Purdue has not strung together more than two wins in a row this year and are coming off a 47-44 loss at Eastern Michigan last Saturday. The Boilers also lost their season-opener at home to Bucknell, 70-65, when they missed 8-of-15 free throws. Following an 83-54 victory over Hofstra at home, the Boilers fell, 89-81, to Villanova in overtime in Madison Square Garden. Purdue lost the next day in MSG to Oregon State, 66-58, when they were out-rebounded, 47-36, and made just 5-of-19 from three-point range while shooting .338 from the field. Back-to-back wins came against UNC-Wilmington (66-40) and at Clemson (73-61) when the Tigers converted just 4-of-23 from three-point land. Purdue has lost two of its last three, falling to Xavier (63-57) at home as the Boilers missed all 17 of their three-pointers. Before falling to Eastern Michigan, Purdue defeated Lamar, 72-39.

Top losses: Kelsey Barlow (8.3 ppg., 3.7 rpg., 1.7 apg.), Robbie Hummel (16.4 ppg., 7.2 rpg., 1.2 bpg.), Lewis Jackson (10.4 ppg., 4.2 apg.), Ryne Smith (9.1 ppg., 2.5 rpg.)

Top players: The Boilermakers have just one senior among their top seven scorers - 6-foot-5, 228-pound D.J. Byrd -- who is averaging 8.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He is converting just .325 from the field and .263 from three-point range, although his six three-pointers in the first half of the Clemson game propelled Purdue to a 42-22 halftime lead en route to a 12-point victory.

Purdue's leading scorer is 6-foot-2 junior Terone Johnson, who is averaging 13.0 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He is Purdue's leading three-point shooter (.406, 13-of-32) after missing the season-opener with an ankle injury. Johnson scored 19 points against UNC-Wilmington and Xavier.

A.J. Hammons is a rugged 7-foot-0, 280-pound freshman who is second on the team in scoring at 9.3 with 6.0 rebounds per game. He leads the Boilers in offensive rebounds (22) and blocked shots (13). Hammons scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the loss to Oregon State.

Ronnie Johnson is a 6-foot-0 freshman averaging 7.8 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He leads the team in steals with 10, but is shooting just .315 from the field. The third Johnson in the Purdue rotation is Anthony, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, who is scoring at a 7.4 clip while grabbing 4.2 rebounds per game.

Donnie Hale is a 6-foot-8, 220-pound freshman who is second to Hammons in offensive rebounds with 15. He's scoring at a 5.2 clip while grabbing 3.6 rebounds per game. Jacob Lawson, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, is scoring and rebounding at a 3.2 pace.

Brey on Purdue: "They are really going to guard you. They pressure the ball and physically defend you. It's what Matt has done with his teams every year, and they rely on that and they really rebound the ball. So we may not be able to get into a beautiful flow offensively against them, so if it's an ugly one, can we be mentally prepared to play like that? It's a little bit like the Evansville game, the first game of the season.

"I want us to be able to defend. Guarding them is a little bit like guarding ourselves. Their motion and their movement and their screening, they move very similar to us. (Terone) Johnson certainly can score the ball. He's a scorer. I loved Hammons. We recruited him. I loved him when I saw him as a young player. He's really blossoming. We recruited D.J. Byrd. I remember when he called me and told me he was going to Purdue. Great kid, and I know he's gone off from the three-point line once this year against Clemson.

"I think they're still trying to find their lineup, so it's kind of hard to get a real scouting report on who's going to play because I think they're still trying to figure out who starts and what their roles are. The thing we have to be prepared for is the way they will guard us. We're going to have to work offensively to get good shots against Purdue's defense."

Brey on Painter: "I have the utmost respect for Matt. Matt's done a heckuva job with the Purdue program. He's a good friend, and when you coach in this state as long as he and I have, you spend a lot of time together in the same gyms on the same circuit. The stat that stuck out to me when I was watching the NCAA tournament was that for 10 or 11 straight years, they've won an NCAA tournament game. That speaks to the consistency of Matt's program. Purdue is going to do what they do under Matt. They always have and they always will."

Prister's take: This is not a typical Purdue squad with a .416 shooting percentage from the field, a .262 mark from beyond the arc, and even a .641 number from the free-throw line.

"We had every opportunity to win, but we went above and beyond the call of duty to lose," said Painter after Purdue committed 20 turnovers in an overtime loss to Villanova. That pretty much sums up the Boilermakers' season so far.

Although they're tenacious on the offensive glass (143 rebounds, 15.7 per game), they've turned it over more times (129) than they've assisted on baskets (126). But they're still good on the defensive end, allowing just a .371 field-goal conversion rate (29th nationally) and a .269 mark from three-point range (27th).

This has the makings of a close, low-scoring physical affair with each offense working hard for every basket it makes. Purdue has held eight of its nine opponents to less than 67 points. Notre Dame is 41st nationally in scoring defense (58.5 ppg.) while Purdue is 45th (58.8). Fast breaks will be kept to a minimum.

Ultimately, however, the Boilermakers should have more difficulty scoring than the Irish. You almost have to try to miss all 17 three-point attempts as Purdue did in its six-point loss to Xavier. Notre Dame shot .381 from the field in this arena last year against Indiana, and it could be more of the same.

This is an important game for the Irish since it is their last game against an opponent from a major conference until they open conference play on Jan. 5 against Seton Hall. With both teams coming off final exams, it won't be pretty. But the Irish prevail.

Pointspread: Notre Dame by 4 ˝
Prister's Prediction: Notre Dame 61, Purdue 55
Prister's record: 8-1 straight up; 5-2 vs. points


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