Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Purdue desperate for big victory over UW

The Purdue Boilermakers (17-9, 7-6) ride into town on Sunday looking to spoil the Wisconsin Badgers’ (18-6, 9-4) bid for a perfect home season. UW is coming off a tough week in which they lost two games on the road, along with the lead in the Big Ten title race. If the Badgers hope to win their third straight Big Ten title, they cannot afford to drop another game, especially at home.

In contrast, the Boilermakers wander into Madison searching for momentum to propel them into the Big Ten tournament and hopefully the NCAA Tournament. Purdue currently stands fourth in the Big Ten and is among the “bubble” teams hoping for a bid to the Big Dance in March.

Purdue enters Sunday’s contest during a disappointing stretch. After a great start that included wins over Duke, Seton Hall, Illinois and Wisconsin, Purdue was riding high with a 14-4 record and stood atop the Big Ten conference standings at 4-1. Since then, the Boilermakers have gone 3-5, with two of those wins coming against Minnesota (10-16, 2-12) and Penn State (9-15, 3-10) and the third against disappointing Indiana (12-13, 6-8).

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For all of its recent struggles Purdue remains a talented bunch, as the Badgers saw when the Boilermakers defeated UW 53-51 at Mackey Arena, where Wisconsin has lost 29 straight contests. However, Sunday’s game will take place at the Kohl Center, where the Badgers have won 27 consecutive games.

In order to remain undefeated at home, Wisconsin will have to shut down one of the stronger backcourts in the Big Ten. Senior guard Kenneth Lowe, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, leads the Boilermakers in scoring with an average of 13.8 points per game, while shooting almost 40 percent from the land of three and averaging two assists.

Lowe is joined by sophomore guard David Teague who averages 11 points and 5.1 boards a game, showing the versatility that defines the Boilermaker backcourt. Junior guard Brandon McKnight also averages 8.7 points and 2.8 assists to round out the potent backcourt of Purdue.

The guard trio of Lowe, Teague and McKnight were key to the Boilermakers’ narrow victory over Wisconsin earlier this year scoring 13, 11 and 8 points respectively, representing Purdue’s leading scorers that night. Lowe shot 10-10 from the free-thrown line that night, and junior guard Devin Harris missed a last second three pointer that sealed the win for Purdue.

Purdue comes into the match-up with the best shooting percentage defense in the Big Ten, limiting opponents to a paltry 39.8 points per game. Purdue shut down the Badgers offense in West Lafayette limiting Harris to 12 points and only allowing one other Badger (Mike Wilkinson) into double figures.

Purdue is not as strong in the post, an area in which the Badgers have had problems defending opponents this year. The Boilermakers could also be without their top two frontline players Sunday. Senior forward Chris Booker was second on the team in scoring before being declared academically ineligible, ending his season and career. Senior center Ivan Kartelo, who was arrested last week, could also find himself on the bench for Sunday’s match.

Purdue’s win over Wisconsin earlier this season was the 500th career win for Big Ten coaching dean Gene Keady, who has the distinction of having the longest tenure (24 years), most wins (505) and most Big Ten coach of the year awards (seven) in the conference. Keady has seen all there is to see on a basketball court and will make sure his team is ready to play, even in the hostile environment of the Kohl Center.

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