Virginia Tech will face a significant challenge on Wednesday night when the
Purdue Boilermakers come to town as one of the premier games of the ACC-Big Ten
Challenge. Purdue is one of the top programs in the country, and a victory would
give the Hokies a much needed quality non-conference win.
Purdue is 5-1 on the season, with easy wins over Howard, Alcorn State,
Oakland, Austin Peay and Southern Illinois. However, they were upset in their
first real challenge of the year, a 65-54 setback at the hands of a very good
Richmond Spider team on a neutral court.
The Boilermakers have been an excellent program under the leadership of head
coach Matt Painter. Here’s what they have accomplished over the last four
Basketball, Last Four Seasons
NCAA 2nd Rd.
NCAA 2nd Rd.
Painter is one of the best coaches in the business, as you can see from those
results. The Boilermakers are a definite NCAA Tournament team this year, so a
win for Tech would be something the selection committee couldn’t overlook come
Purdue will come to Blacksburg with two of the best players in the Big Ten in
their starting lineup.
That was Purdue’s starting lineup against Richmond this weekend. We could see
them go with a bigger lineup against the Hokies, which would feature Patrick
Bade (6-8, 229, So.) in the starting lineup. He has started three games this
year, but he’s averaging just two points and two rebounds per game.
JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore make this team go, and both players could be
selected in next year’s NBA Draft. Moore is a very good scoring wing who was
once a Virginia Tech recruiting target. An all-around good player, he led Purdue
in scoring in each of the past three seasons. Last year he also led the team in
assists, becoming just the third player in program history to lead the team in
scoring and assists.
Johnson is Purdue’s most physically gifted player and their best NBA
prospect. He has advanced scoring skills, and he’s able to put the ball in the
basket from the three-point line as well. He is Purdue’s top rebounder, and he
has great length on the defensive side of the ball.
The rest of Purdue’s rotation features a number of quality role players. Only
three players on the team average more than 20 minutes per game: Moore, Johnson
and point guard Lewis Jackson (21.8 mpg). The Boilermakers will use as many as
11 players against the Hokies. Here’s a list of the rest of their contributors.
John Hart (6-2, 196, So.) comes off the bench to average 9.3 points per
game, and he is the third leading scorer on the team. Averaging almost 16
minutes per game, he’s shooting the ball 50% from three-point range on the
season. He will take over the scoring role when Moore and Johnson are gone after
D.J. Byrd has started three games for the Boilermakers, and he is their
second-biggest starter when they go with their smaller lineup. He’s a big,
physical wing player. Expect Purdue to use their biggest lineup against the
Hokies. Otherwise Byrd would have to defend Jeff Allen or Victor Davila in the
low post, and that would be a good matchup for Virginia Tech.
Terone Johnson is a freshman guard who has also started three games for
Purdue. He has struggled from the field (35.9%) as well as the three-point line
(21.4%). He plays just under 20 minutes per game.
Kelsey Barlow (6-5, 193, So.) made the All-Big Ten Freshman team last
season, and he’s following that up by getting 16.8 minutes per game this year.
He’s not a major offensive threat at this point in his career, but he’s a
lengthy wing who is very effective defensively on the perimeter.
Ryne Smith (6-3, 190, Jr.) has started three games for Purdue this
season. He is a three-point specialist who is shooting 41.2% from the outside
Lewis Jackson is the starter at point guard, and he averages just over 20
minutes per game. Jackson is not a scorer because of his lack of height, but he
runs the show very well for Purdue.
Travis Carroll (6-9, 230, Fr.) averages just under 10 minutes per game as
a true freshman. He is a solid rebounder at this point in his career, and he
brings toughness to the post. However, his offensive game has yet to round into
Sandi Marcius (6-9, 257, r-Fr.) is a big body who provides size down low.
He has played in five of Purdue’s six games.
Purdue doesn’t have any proven scoring threats on the inside, other than
JaJuan Johnson. With a number of talented perimeter players with varying
skillsets, it makes sense for them to use a smaller lineup at times. When Jeff
Allen and Victor Davila are on the court at the same time, however, look for
Purdue to try to match up with the Hokies by using their bigger lineup.
However, once Jarell Eddie or Manny Atkins is playing the “4”
position for Tech, the Boilermakers will have an opportunity to go with one of
their smaller lineups.
Though Purdue has a couple of excellent scorers, the strength of this team is
their basketball IQ and their defense. Opponents are shooting just 38.7% against
Purdue, and only 30.1% from three-point range. They have forced their opponents
into a total of 115 turnovers in just six games, an average of nearly 20 per
Purdue is missing senior forward Robbie Hummel (6-8, 228, Sr.), a top notch
player who was averaging 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game
before blowing out his knee last February. Purdue struggled for a couple of
weeks after losing Hummel before figuring out how to play without him. He tried
to return for the start of the preseason, but he tore his ACL yet again, and the
Boilermakers are showing signs of struggling offensively without him.
In their recent loss to Richmond, Purdue only had 14 first half points. It
was very similar to a game last year against Minnesota without Hummel during
which the Boilermakers had just 11 first half points. Purdue is still a good
basketball team without their senior forward, but his presence makes a big
difference on the court. They would likely be a Final Four contender with him in
The Hokies are struggling to find themselves as well right now. They have no
depth in the post, and Dorenzo Hudson’s scoring and shooting are down quite a
bit from last season. This should be a pretty even matchup.
Both of these teams like to play tough, physical on-ball defense. With the
way both offenses are struggling against good defensive teams, a low-scoring
game seems likely on Wednesday night. Purdue struggled to run their offense
against Richmond’s zone defense, so we could see some zone from the Hokies in